There are a lot of fantastic books available on the SF Gateway (and a lot more to come), but if I’m honest, when I heard about the project, the book that made me most excited – even though I own it in paperback – was Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg.
My copy is in a box somewhere, victim of my recent house-move – along with most of my ageing SF paperbacks – but I can picture it now. I can remember the first time I read it, and although some of the details are blurring, I can remember the impact it had on me. I bought it at the age of about thirteen, because it had a cover by the same guy who did Terry Pratchett, although the two authors are worlds apart. I’m looking forward to revisiting.
Of the sequels, I recall the second, Majipoor Chronicles – as the name suggests, a fix-up of short stories – to be fun but slight compared to the joy of the first book. Lucky, then, that I didn’t find a copy until long after I’d read the final part of the original trilogy, Valentine Pontifex. A magisterial novel, building on and completing the themes and plot of the first.
I haven’t read them for about ten years, but in my memory, those two books and their short-story companion are among the most impressive and enjoyable works of fantasy (or SF, if you prefer – the definition is blurred) I’ve ever read. If you haven’t invested in them, do so now.
Silverberg returned to the world of Majipoor almost fifteen years later, with The Mountains of Majipoor. A slighter novel, this, but enjoyable none the less. Set some time after the original trilogy, it’s worth a read if you’ve exhausted the other Majipoor works.
The success of this sequel led Silverberg to write a second trilogy, set long before the other works, which fleshes out some of the history and folklore of Majipoor. Sorcerers of Majipoor, Lord Prestimion and The King of Dreams form, for me, a more satisfying follow-on than Mountains, if only because of their scale. That said, they should be read after their predecessors. Look, just bloody go and read Lord Valentine’s Castle, alright?
And for me, this sums up what the SF Gateway is for. In a just universe there’s no way that these books would be unavailable. Unfortunately, publishing has to obey certain rules, and there’s only so much space on the shelves of the bookshops of the UK. Clearly these books fell through the gaps. I’m deeply proud to be part of the team that’s made them available again.
I’m also very very pleased to announce that we’ll be publishing one final Majipoor book next year. Tales of Majipoor will collect eight short stories in a framing sequence. It is truly a dream come true to be listed as the editor of a Majipoor book. Some of these stories have been available before, but many are brand new, and I can’t wait to return to the world of Lords Valentine and Prestimion. I hope you’ll join me there.