Michael Swanwick

About Michael Swanwick

Starting out in the early eighties, American author Michael Swanwick has been making a name for himself for a long time now. Beginning as a short-story writer he is well known for producing science-fiction novels that really transport the reader to far off distant lands. Asking some of the bigger questions on life and human nature, he is definitely a writer who excels in his particular literary genre. Making a distinctive niche for himself, he sets himself apart with his idiosyncratic style that really resonates with the reader, despite the otherworldly settings of the stories themselves. It is the characters that make his stories too, allowing them to breathe life into the worlds that he creates, giving them a grounded and realistic tone.

Winning awards for his work over the years as well, this New York based author is also known for infusing his stories with an element of fantasy too. Imbuing his stories with a sense of the mystical almost, he always makes sure to make them entertaining, whilst putting forwards a set of strong ideas as well. Creating a number of series and franchises too, he manages to keep his stories going over time, something which he will continue to do for many years to come.

Early and Personal Life

Born and raised in Schenectady, New York, in the United States, Michael Swanwick was born on the 18th of November, 1950. Over time he would turn to writing short-stories, as literature had been hardwired into him from an early age, as he would continue to hone his craft. This would carry on for quite some time to follow, as he would focus on science-fiction, a genre which he would gradually establish his name with throughout the intervening years. Getting his work published in various different publications, his profile would quickly rise in stature, as he would come to be respected by both his peers and contemporaries alike. Currently living in Philadelphia with Marianne Porter and Sean, their son, he continues to regularly write to this very day.

Writing Career

Publishing his first short story titled ‘Ginungagap’ in 1980, he would see it feature in the ‘TriQuarterly’, which he would follow that same year with the story ‘The Feast of St. Janis’. This would feature in ‘New Dimensions 11’, and soon he was well on his way to making a name for himself as a fully fledged author of literary fiction. Both of these short stories went on to become awards nominees, as they were nominated for the ‘Nebula Award for Best Short Story’ in 1981 the following year. He would soon go on to publish ‘In the Drift’ in 1985, which would use the real-world event of the Three Mile Island catastrophe to help inspire it. Using this as the basis of his commentary, he has gone on to create work of similar nature ever since, producing a lot of fiction, as well as many non-fiction essays too.

The Dragons of Babel

First released through the ‘Tor Books’ publishing label, this would originally come out in 2008 on the 8th of January. Providing a sequel of sorts to ‘The Dragon’s Daughter’, it is set in the same world, whilst also being its own unique story. This allows readers to read it at their own pace, not needing to follow the series overall to understand what’s going on, as it’s set within an industrialized world, as opposed to the first.

Working as a follow-up to the massively influential fantasy novel ‘The Iron Dragon’s Daughter’, this definitely has a lot of ground to cover. Set in the same world and universe, it manages to make its own mark as a novel and story, allowing it to have its own self-contained narrative in the process. With Michael Swanwick returning to the world of the novel with which he made a large name for himself, he works well the honor the original too. Creating strong and lasting characters that really stay with the reader long after they’ve finished the story, it definitely manages to leave quite the lasting impact.

Pulling into a village, a war-dragon from Babel makes his home there, set within the post-industrialized world of Faerie. This sees him declaring himself as king, whilst he goes on to make Will his lieutenant, whilst at night he will crawl into this fey’s mind in order to learn what it is that his subjects think. After being forced from his village, Will must travel with female soldier centaurs, whilst witnessing giants clashing, all whilst acquiring a surrogate daughter named Esme. Meeting Nat Whilk, a confidence trickster, in the Tower of Babel, a sprawling city, he then becomes a hero to the homeless and dispossessed. Will he find what it is that he is looking for? How will he deal with his love for the high-elven woman as he rises through the political ranks? What will become of the dragons of Babel?

Not So Much, Said The Cat

This time released through the ‘Tachyon Publications’ publishing outlet, this would first come out in 2016 on the 9th of August. Not being a part of any series, it would act as a follow-up of sorts to Swanwick’s earlier collection of short-stories titled ‘The Dog Said Bow-Wow’. Keeping a thematic set of ideas running constantly throughout, Swanwick says all that he wants to say with these stories, being strong as they are.

As a writer of short-stories, Michael Swanwick is unsurpassed, with this being the medium with which he made his name. In this collection he does what he does best, creating succinct and to-the-point stories that say exactly what he wants to say. Allowing the reader to really invest themselves in the action, he gives them brief glimpses into other far off exciting universes to explore. Painting a vivid portrait of these landscapes too, he definitely works at allowing them to come off of the page as well.

Transporting the reader across all of time and space, these short-stories really do have everything in this enthralling collection. With a galactic sense of scope and scale, they allow the reader to truly understand the full breadth and scale of Swanwick’s imagination. Hurtling all across the globe and throughout the galaxy, the stories are otherworldly in their nature and setting, whilst simultaneously being grounded in very human realities. As magical horses protect the innocent, trolls seek repentance, teenagers aim to take on the devil with only their savvy, and time-travelers party, everything is laid out here. Looking to the distant future, as well as the distant past, this collection really is one that stands the test of time in ‘Not So Much, Said The Cat’.

Books in order of publication:

Iron Dragon’s Daughter Books

The Iron Dragon’s Daughter(1993) 
The Dragons of Babel(2008) 
The Iron Dragon’s Mother(2019) 

Darger and Surplus Books

Dancing With Bears(2011) 
Chasing the Phoenix(2015) 
The Postutopian Adventures of Darger and Surplus(2020) 

Mongolian Wizard Books

The Mongolian Wizard(2012) 
The Fire Gown(2012) 
Day of the Kraken(2012) 
House of Dreams(2013) 
The Night of the Salamander(2015) 
The Pyramid of Krakow(2015) 
The Phantom in the Maze(2015) 
Murder in the Spook House(2019) 
The New Prometheus(2019) 

Standalone Novels

In the Drift(1985) 
Vacuum Flowers(1987) 
Griffin’s Egg(1990) 
Stations of the Tide(1991) 
Gravity’s Angels(1991) 
Jack Faust(1997) 
Bones of the Earth(2002) 


Slow Dancing Through Time(1990) 
Cigar-Box Faust(1991) 
Tales of Old Earth(1992) 
A Geography of Unknown Lands(1997) 
Moon Dogs(2000) 
Michael Swanwick’s Field Guide to Mesozoic Megafauna(2004) 
The Periodic Table of Science Fiction(2005) 
The Dog Said Bow-Wow(2007) 
The Best of Michael Swanwick(2008) 
Not So Much, Said the Cat(2016) 

Short Stories/Novellas

Zeppelin City(2011) 
The Trains That Climb the Winter Tree(2011) 
The Dala Horse(2011) 

Non-Fiction Books

The Postmodern Archipelago(1997) 
Being Gardner Dozois(2001) 
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