Hey! Here’s a reading recommendation for you from the DAW-way-back-machine.
Merovingen Nights shared world anthology series, edited by C.J. Cherryh.
What’s a shared world anthology?
Well, another well-known example has been Thieves’ World from Robert Asprin and Lynn Abbey.
Someone writes a cool book about an immersive and cool world and then a bunch of other cool authors jump in and write short stories taking place in that world. Neat, huh?
C.J. Cherryh wrote Angel With The Sword in 1985. Then her buds jumped up and down and said, “ZOMG! dude that’s so cool! Can I write a story taking place in Merovingen?” And Cherryh says “sure, that’s a totes fab idea, yo, but I get to edit for consistency, LOL.” (paraphrased, of course)
Merovingen is a city of small islands, canals, dead bodies, waterways. The primary mode of transportation is by small canal boat: shipping, mass transit, murder, politics and derring-do all take place via water craft. The lower city at water level is hard living, wealth and ease rise with the elevation, and much of the story centers around the interaction between the two socio-economic statuses.
Our main character is Altair Jones, seventeen and street-savvy. She makes her living polling a canal boat for hire. In Angel With The Sword, she finds Thomas Mondragon washed up and nearly dead from a dose of too much intrigue.
When we get to the short stories, it’s the editing for consistency that makes this series what it is. The story authors haven’t just dipped their toes in Cherryh’s universe. They’ve bought in, lock, stock and barrel. Cherryh writes a single short story that she breaks up into parts, focusing on the two main characters from Angel With The Sword. The parts are interspersed with tangential short stories by the guest authors, such that the characters in the short stories will be reacting to the actions taken by the main characters’ encompassing story arc. Very tidy.
Additionally, there’s some swank bonus material. What’s a fantasy book without maps, right? Well, we have not just one dinky hard to read map, but nine, yes nine maps, o soon-to-be fans! We’ve got the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, the different districts and quarters of the city, Major Eastern Oceanic Currents and –serious– maps of the ocean floor.
Now on to the appendices. In each of the different volumes Mercedes Lackey wrote up supplemental background material on the Merovingen universe. She gives us in depth info on diseases, ecology, folklore and poisons.
(If you want a definition of “Filk”, that’s it, right there.)
All of these books are totally out of print, and mucking about with e-rights for multiple authors, some deceased, would be the headache you’d expect so don’t look for these on your e-whatnot anytime soon. But do look for them in your local used bookstore. If you’re really, really nice, I *might* lend you my copies.