the Avram Davidson electronic newsletter

Vol. V No. 3
29 September 2000
ISSN 1089-764X

Published bimonthly by whim and fancy for the Avram Davidson
Society.  Contents copyright 2000 The Nutmeg Point District Mail
and assigned to individual contributors.  All rights reserved.

Henry Wessells, Editor.
Cooper Wessells, Honorary Secretary.

All correspondence to:
Post Office Box 43072, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-0072


Use this electronym for requests to be added to or dropped
from the mailing list.  Back issues are archived at the
Avram Davidson Website, URL :

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     The newest collection of writings by Avram Davidson, Everybody
Has Somebody in Heaven, edited by Jack Dann and Grania
Davidson Davis, is forthcoming from Pitspopany Press of New
York and Israel in late October, and will be reviewed in a future
issue of the District Mail.

On Thursday 26 October, there will be a luncheon of the Avram
Davidson Society in New York City to celebrate the new book
(see below for details).

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Whispers Through a Brass Tube :
Collaborating With Avram Davidson
Michael Swanwick

     Over his dead body. To be quite frank, that was almost certainly the
only way Avram Davidson would have allowed a collaboration with the likes
of me to occur. But he was dead, alas, and so it came to be. Among his
papers was a brilliant, maddening 5,000-word fragment titled "Vergil Magus:
King Without Country." It was not a story, though it contained within it
the unpacked implications of a story. It was, in fact, a literary puzzle,
waiting not so much to be finished as to be solved.
     Solve it I did. Whatever the merits of the completed work -- I, for
one, like it -- I have had the satisfaction of having several noted scholars
tell me they could not detect where Davidson's hand left off and mine
began. This is an accomplishment I shall always cherish. Yet honesty
compels me to admit that in essence all I did was to spell out what was
already implicit in the fragment. It was so easy! All I had to do was
apply that same skewed sensibility that Davidson conveyed in his other
comedies, and the jokes and situations popped into existence.
     All puzzles are exercises in topography. So, for the benefit of those
who enjoy wandering over complex terrain, I have decided to spell out
exactly how I achieved my resolution. If it makes me seem more cunning
than inspired, well . . . so be it.
     The fragment as received begins with a description of Emericho, the
aged Count Mar, Master of Ceremonies to the Roman Emperor Festus, and
how he comes to be the last of his line, and what