Profile: Tanith Lee, by Donald A. Wollheim - A short and glowing introduction to the author. All true, but although it's not mentioned, it wasn't written for this volume, or in 2009, as Mr. Wollheim passed away in 1990, and since then, DAW Books has dropped Lee (showing that Mr. Wollheim had better discrimination than his successors...)
**** Tiger I - By coincidence, I just finished reading Nicola Griffith's 'Yaguara' - this makes a nice companion piece. It makes for some interesting contrasts on the theme of the cat-woman. In Griffith's piece, the woman becomes part-cat, as part of a symbol of joining with an earthy, animal essence and a community that, although secret and separate, lives close to nature - but she gives birth to a human child who is taken back to 'civilisation.' In Lee's story, the woman finds her cat 'connection' as part of events that allow her to gain independence, self-esteem and the trappings of wealth and 'civilisation' - but also results in her isolation - rather than joining a community, her new qualities set her alone.) She gives birth to cats, which remain with her, at least on the surface, as 'pets.'
**** Death Loves Me - An historical piece about a charioteer who believes that the female figure of Death is haunting him, watching him from the stands, and bringing him bad luck. But a more prosaic explanation may exist, as a companion story unfolds, about a wife who seeks to recapture her husband's interest.
*****Anna Medea - I recently read Lee's werewolf novel, Lycanthia, and loved it. This is another great take on the werewolf legend. Into a formal household terrorized by two insufferable children comes a Mary-Poppins-like governess, Anna Medea, and all seems to be improving. The husband breathes a sigh of relief. But for some reason, the wife cannot stand Anna Medea, and wants her fired...
**** Ondralume - In a fantastic world, drought has struck. The priestesses pray for rain, and the people contemplate sacrifices. Meanwhile, in a more prosaic setting, a secretary seethes with anger over the boss she's been having an affair with going to Palm Springs with another woman. Out of revenge, she decides not to water his exotic plants over the weekend, or care for the other baubles that decorate his office...
*****After I Killed Her - A beautiful, powerful take on the myth of the dragon slayer, and truths about the destruction of wild nature.
*** God and the Pig - In a post-apocalyptic scenario, a pig speaks to God in a theological dialogue.
*** The Kingdoms of the Air - A pretty but somewhat meandering tale of a a knight's Quest and the magical things he encounters. Heavy on symbolism. I felt it went on a bit too long, getting a baker's dozen of archetypal elements in.
*** Eustace. A short and odd paragraph, not really a story.
**** These Beasts - A tomb robber's unsavory occupation catches up with him. Reminiscent of tales of Ancient Egyptian curses.
*****Cain - a rich boy is erotically haunted by the ghost of his twin, who died at birth.
*****The Lady-of-Shalott House - A graceful ghost story with a classic feel.
*****Where Does the Town Go At Night? - Another near-perfect story. A man, in town to pay off the mother of his unloved child, is accosted by a homeless man who seems compelled to tell him a dreamlike story of how the town, on certain nights, and for a certain few, mystically travels, becomes part of a fantastic, aquatic land. A powerful musing on the loss of dreams.