Beautifully crafted, unfailingly strange, and always moving, Susan Palwick's stories shift effortlessly between fantasy and science fiction, magical realism and horror. Here you will encounter aliens, ghosts, and robots, along with a colorful assortment of eccentric and vulnerable humans. You will see souls trapped in lucite, witness the operations of a magical measuring tape, and watch the oldest woman on a generation ship bequeath a precious Terran relic to a young friend. Collecting tales published in markets such as Tor.com, Asimov's, F&SF, and Lightspeed, All Worlds are Real also includes three new pieces exclusive to this volume.
INTRODUCTION BY JO WALTON
"Susan Palwick is a master storyteller with a deep understanding of the human soul and an expansive imagination that charms (and sometimes alarms) me. Her stories will transport you to strange places and will introduce you to the people who inhabit them. And yes, all of those worlds and all of those people are very real. They linger in the imagination, as solid as the floor beneath you, as intriguing as the stranger you met at a party, and as startling as a human soul, captured in a lucite cube and sold at the gift shop in the tenth circle of hell."
—Pat Murphy, author of The Falling Woman
"Susan Palwick’s vivid characterization and knife-edged prose draw the reader into situations they never imagined, partnering in adventure with oft-unsettling companions. Lost souls, true believers, and unwilling good Samaritans abound in All Worlds are Real, pulling you into worlds strange and thrilling, alien and yet familiar—and then leaving you in them, working to draw your own map home."
—A.M. Dellamonica, author of Child of a Hidden Sea
"Palwick always makes me think, and makes me care, and makes me keep on reading. The easy comparison would be to Connie Willis or Neil Gaiman, but there's a depth and a groundedness to Palwick's work that makes her even better. These are important exciting stories that are fun to read, even when they're harrowing. I'm tempted to pick out favorites, but they're all so good! Go read them. They can speak for themselves. You can thank me later."
—Jo Walton, author of Among Others
"I don’t just read a Susan Palwick story, I inhabit her characters. I experience their joys, doubts, sorrows, triumphs, and redemptions as if they were my own. Susan lays bare their hearts and, more importantly, their souls. I find the characters and their surroundings so convincing that as I read I know 'all worlds are real.' This collection includes many of my long-time favorite Susan Palwick stories and some brand new ones."
—Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
"The 15 inventive stories in the heartfelt second collection of speculative fiction from Palwick are connected by themes of death and recovery . . . Palwick’s mastery of vibrant, immersive storytelling is never in doubt. Readers will be thoroughly transported by these achingly beautiful tales."
"It is rare indeed that a story collection in this or any other genre can be characterized as graceful and full of grace; concise yet expansive; calm yet thrilling; topical yet timeless; and full of lighthearted gravitas. These streamlined stories all exhibit clean, strong and authentic narrative frames that are packed with powerful tropes brilliantly handled. You will emerge from immersion in this book feeling you have actually lived these lives . . . Palwick specializes in asking “‘what if’ questions of the human heart.” All her speculative scenarios, however cleverly and intricately constructed, take a back seat to the psychological and emotional odyssey that each character undergoes in his or her search for how best to relate to others, and to oneself, and how to balance communal duties against individual needs. Whether it’s Welly, confined to his hermitage in order to be shepherd to the visiting aliens, or Lhosi, expending the last of her life force to honor her people, Palwick’s protagonists generally come down, however reluctantly at first, on the side of sacrifice and interconnectivity with even those opposed to them (see “City of Enemies” and “Sanctuary”). All these beautifully limned journeys are conveyed in a trademark prose that is full of telling details calmly and crystal-clearly conveyed, details which also deliver insights into the protagonist . . . Any reader who’s even just a little bit tired of intergalactic warfare, endless heroic quests, and bloody abominations will revel in Palwick’s down-to-earth yet miraculous fables."