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The history of Darkover Anthologies

The Friends of Darkover

The success of the Darkover early novels (especially the first version of Sharra's Exile, i.e., The Sword of Aldones) was so important that fans begun to organize special meeting in SF conventions, and to ask Marion clarifications about her world (the youth of Lew Alton for instance).

All this fannish activity ends up with the creation of The Friends of Darkover. This amateur group started to publish a periodic letter (the Darkover Newsletter) in 1975 which turns into a fanzine named Starstone in 1977.

Starstone used to publish apocryphal Darkover fiction, written by young authors. Marion used to patronize this fanzine. She wrote, in the introduction to The Keeper's Price anthology, the following sentences (but see her new policy at the bottom of this page):

I have always encouraged young writers to write in my world; I think it's fun. Besides, how else can I get to read Darkover stories without going to the trouble of writing them?

Marion even published some short stories in the fanzine:
[...] I made a habit of publishing, in Starstone, various short bits of Darkover fiction which I considered too short, or too fragmentary, to develop into novels.

Marion had nothing against apocryphal Darkover fiction. She gave in the introduction to The Keeper's Price anthology precise explanations about her feeling towards young writers' use of Darkover:

[...]I don't mind other writers writing about Darkover [...].
Nor do I feel threatened by stories not consistent with my personal vision of Darkover. To me, all Darkover stories written by anyone else are presumed to be in a parallel world to "my" Darkover; [...].
Because, in a very real sense, I regard myself not as the "inventor" of Darkover, but its discoverer. If others wish to play in my fantasy world, who am I to slam its gates and in churlish voice demand that they build their own? If they are capable of it, they will do so someday. Meanwhile, if they wish to write of Darkover, they will. [...] Why should I deny myself the pleasure of seeing these young writers learning to do their thing by, for a little while, doing my thing with me?
Unfortunately (??), this is not the case anymore (see the end of the page).

First professional publication: The Keeper's Price

Donald Wollheim, the founder of DAW Books, knew that Marion used to publish short stories in Starstone. He thought that an anthology of Darkover short fictions can be interesting. Marion's answer was simple: there were not enough of these short stories to make a book. D. Wollheim thought that Darkover apocryphal fiction contained some good stories and therefore
[...] he suggested that I [Marion] might include the best of the short stories written by the Friends of Darkover, some of whom showed tremendous talent.
This suggestion ended up with the publication in 1980 of the anthology The Keeper's Price.

After the success...

The first Darkover anthology was a commercial success and D. Wollheim asked Marion to keep on editing such work. She wrote in the introduction to Sword of Chaos, the second anthology, the following sentences:
Don Wollheim, who over the years has been the first friend of Darkover, and most helpful of editors, has helped this phenomenon [the fact that many writers write about Darkover] to emerge, not only by urging me to continue with the Darkover series when I felt hesitant to do so, but also by publishing the first volume of stories by me and the other writers, The Keeper's Price; and then by giving me the go-ahead for a second volume. When I made this known, through the mechanism of the Friends of Darkover, I was promptly deluged with stories.
The story if the Darkover anthologies had just begin at this moment. There are now twelve anthologies and there will never be others, as explained in the following section. Anyway, Darkover is now more or less the property of Mercedes Lackey. In the anthology Snows of Darkover, Marion writes (page 179) in the introduction to Mercedes Lackey's short story:
Betsy Wollheim and I have chosen her [Mercedes Lackey] to inherit the Darkover series in the unlikely event that I ever become unable-or unwilling-to do any more of them.
This anthology was printed in April 1994 and Marion's sentences make official what have been already announced by the co-authoring of Rediscovery, printed in April 1993.

Official goal of the Anthologies

This goal was described in the Reader's guide included in each Darkover book printed by Daw. It has recently changed so I include here the old one, which can be found for instance in Renunciantes of Darkover:
These volumes of stories written by Marion Zimmer Bradley herself, and various members of the society called The Friends of Darkover, strive to "fill in the blanks" of the Darkover history, and elaborate on the eras, tales and characters which have captured their imaginations.
This is to my mind the publisher's point of view: do buy these books, they are great and they "fill in the blanks". But Marion herself does not believe that everything written in these anthologies really belongs to the true Darkover.

The end of the story..

I don't really know about the quality of the Darkover anthologies, but wathever you think about them, you won't ever read new Darkover fiction written by anyone else than Marion herself or specifically chosen authors. In fact, has explained in the DARKOVER NON-GUIDELINES Marion had a legal problem that made her waste a lot of work, and the only manageable answer was to stop working on those anthologies.

Moreover, she now forbids the use of Darkover stuff (the world itself, characters, etc) in fictional work. I strongly suggest you to read those non-guidelines in order to understand the details.

copyright 96-99 Fabrice Rossi (

source file (Last modification: Wed Apr 21 17:21:45 1999)