“One of the most important writers in 21st-Century fantasy.”
—Contra Costa Times
“Robin Hobb is one of our very best fantasy writers…always fresh, entertaining, and completely engrossing.”
—New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson
The Inheritance & Other Stories is a marvelous new collection of short fiction from New York Times bestselling master storyteller Robin Hobb—including tales written under the pseudonym Megan Lindholm, by which the acclaimed fantasist first began her illustrious writing career. Included in this essential volume are Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated short masterworks, as well as brand new tales and the never before published in the U.S. title story—a unique compendium of wonders displaying the breathtaking skill, imagination, and remarkably varied styles of both alter egos.
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About the Author
Robin Hobb was born in California but grew up in Alaska. It was there that she learned to love the forest and the wilderness. She has lived most of her life in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of five critically acclaimed fantasy series: The Rain Wilds Chronicles (Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven, City of Dragons, Blood of Dragons), The Soldier Son Trilogy, The Tawny Man Trilogy, The Liveship Traders Trilogy, and The Farseer Trilogy. Under the name Megan Lindholm she is the author of The Wizard of the Pigeons, Windsingers, and Cloven Hooves. The Inheritance, a collection of stories, was published under both names. Her short fiction has won the Asimov's Readers' Award and she has been a finalist for both the Nebula and Hugo awards.
Robin Hobb / Megan Lindholm was born in California, grew up in Alaska, and currently lives in Tacoma, Washington. As Robin Hobb, she is the author of fourteen novels and numerous shorter works. Megan Lindholm has published nine novels; her short fiction has won the Asimov's Readers' Award and been a finalist for both the Nebula and Hugo awards.
Read an Excerpt
The Inheritance and Other Stories
By Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm
Harper VoyagerCopyright © 2011 Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Touch of Lavender
The old question Where do you get your story ideas from? still has the
power to stump me. The easy, and truthful, answer is Everywhere. Any
writer will tell you that. An overheard conversation on the bus, a
newspaper headline read the wrong way, a simple what if questionany of
those things can be the germ that grows into a story.
But for me, at least, there is one other odd source. A stray first line.
I may be driving or mowing the lawn or trying to fall asleep at night,
and some odd sentence will suddenly intrude. I always recognize these
sentences for what they are: the first line of a story that I dont yet know.
In the days before computers figured into writing, I would jot those
butterfly lines down on a piece of scrap paper and keep them in my
desk drawer, with other stray ideas. I knew they had to be captured
immediately or they would flutter off forever. The line We grew up
like mice in a rotting sofa, my sister and I came to me at a time when
I had just moved into a house that possessed just such an item of
furniture. It was a smelly old sofa, damp and featuring a green brocade
sort of upholstery. It came with the used-to-be-a-chicken-house house
that my husband and I purchased with my very first book advance
from Ace Books. My advance was $3,500 and the run-down house, on
almost four acres of choice swampland (oh, wait, we call those wetlands
nowadays and preserve them!) cost us the whopping sum of
$32,500. The payment of $325 a month represented a $50 saving over
what we had been paying in monthly rent! And we could keep chickens
for eggs. Such a deal!
From the attic, I could look up and see sky between the cedar
shingles that were the roof. A brooder full of chickens was parked in
the bathroom. (Buff Orpingtons for you chicken connoisseurs.) We
regarded those twenty-five half-fledged layers as a value-added feature
of the house, much better than a spare room. A spare room cant lay
eggs! There were no interior doors in the house, and some of the
windows didnt close all the way. We tore up the rotted carpet and lived
with bare ship-lap floors. There were no shelves in the noisy old refrigerator;
we cut plywood to fit and inserted it. The only heat came from
a woodstove. It was thus a mixed blessing that the yard was dominated
by an immense fallen cedar tree. My ax and I rendered it into
heat for the house for that first winter, one chop at a time.
A week after we bought it, at the end of March, Fred said good-bye
and went off to fish the Bering Sea, leaving me there with my faithful
portable Smith-Coronamatic, three children under ten years old, an
overweight pit bull, and a tough old cat. I would not see my husband
again until October. We were impossibly broke when he left, and I
knew that somehow I had to hold it together until after the end of
herring season when he would finally get paid. We borrowed money from
his sister to buy a can of paint because my daughter could not stand
the lavender walls left her by the previous tenant of her bedroom. The
bathroom chickens got older and began to lay eggs. It was mend-and-
make-do time. Smelly and mice infested or not, the couch and other
abandoned furnishings were what we had. I felt a bit bad for the mice
when I evicted them. Theyd been cozy and safe there, despite the rundown
surroundings. Vacuumed, cleaned by hand, and with an old
bedspread tossed over it, the rotting sofa became the main seating in
the living room.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I suppose it occurred to me
that my children were now much like those mice had been. Tough as
things were, we now had a place to call our own. And, I hoped, my kids
had good folks who would see them through.
Did the lavender walls have anything to do with the story that
would be written, years later, and feature that opening line? Who
Its all grist for the writing mill.
We grew up like mice nesting in a rotting sofa, my sister and
I. Even when I was only nine and she was an infant, I thought of
us that way. At night, when shed be asleep in the curl of my belly
and Id be half falling off the old sofa we used as a bed, Id hear
the mice nibbling and moving inside the upholstery beneath us,
and sometimes the tiny squeakings of the newborn ones when the
mother came to nurse them. Id curl tighter around Lisa and
pretend she was a little pink baby mouse instead of a little pink baby
girl, and that I was the father mouse, curled around her to protect
her. Sometimes it made the nights less chill.
Id lived in the same basement apartment all my life. It was
always chill, even in summer. It was an awful place, dank and ratty,
but the upstairs apartments were worse, rank with urine and rot.
The building was an old town house, long ago converted to four
apartments upstairs and one in the basement. None of them were
great, but ours was the cheapest, because we had the furnace and
the water heater right next to us. When I was real small, three
or so, a water main beside the building broke, and water came
rising up in our apartment, maybe a foot deep. I woke up to my
stuff floating beside me, and the old couch sucking up water like
a sponge. I yelled for Mom. I heard the splash as she rolled out
of bed in the only bedroom and then her cussing as she waded
through the water to pick me up. Her current musician took the
whole thing as a big joke, until he saw his sax case floating. Then
he grabbed up his stuff and was out of there. I dont remember
seeing him after that.
My mom and I spent that day sitting on the steps down to our
apartment, waiting for the city maintenance crew to fix the pipe,
waiting for the water to go down, and then waiting for our landlord.
He finally came and looked the place over and nodded, and said,
hell, it was probably for the best, hed been meaning to put down
new tiles and spraysulate the walls anyway. You go ahead and tear
out the old stuff, he told my mom. Stack it behind the house, and
Ill have it hauled away. Let me know when youre ready, and Ill
send in a crew to fix the place up. Now about your rent . . .
I told you, I already mailed it, Mom said coldly, looking past
his ear, and the landlord sighed and drove off.
So Mom and her friends peeled up the cracking linoleum and
tore the Sheetrock off the walls, leaving the bare concrete floor
with stripes of mastic showing and the two-by-four wall studs
standing bare against the gray block walls. That was as far as the
remodeling ever got. The landlord never hauled the stuff away, or
sent in a crew. He never spraysulated the walls, either. Even in the
summer the walls were cool and misty, and in winter it was like
the inside of a refrigerator.
My mom wasnt so regular about paying the rent that she could
raise a fuss. Most of the folks in our building were like that: pay
when you can, and dont stay home when you cant, so the landlord
cant nag at you. The apartments were lousy, but complaining
could get you kicked out. All the tenants knew that if the landlord
had wanted to, he could have gotten a government grant to convert
the place into Skoag units and really made a bundle. We were
right on the edge of a Skoag sector and demand for Skoag units
That was back when the Skoags were first arriving and there
wasnt much housing for them. It all had to be agency approved,
too, to prevent any interplanetary incidents. Cant have aliens
falling down the steps and breaking a flipper, even if they are
pariahs. These outcasts were the only link we had to their planet and
culture, and especially to their technology for space travel that
the whole world was so anxious to have. No one knew where they
came from or how they got to Earth. They just started wading out
of the seas one day, not all that different from a washed-up Cuban.
Just more wetback aliens, as the joke went. They were very open
about being exiles with no means of returning home. They arrived
gradually, in groups of three and four, but of the ships that brought
them there was never any sign, and the Skoags werent saying anything.
That didnt stop any of the big government people from
hoping, though. Hoping that if we were real nice to them, they
might drop a hint or two about interstellar drives or something.
So the Skoags got the government-subsidized housing with showers
that worked and heat lamps and carpeted floors and spraysulated-
walls. The Federal Budget Control Bill said that funds could
be reapportioned, but the budget could not be increased, so folks
like my mom and I took a giant step downward in the housing
arena. But as a little kid, all I understood was that our place was
cold most of the time, and everyone in the neighborhood hated
It really bothered Mom. She wasnt home that
much anyway. Shed bitch about it sometimes when she brought
a bunch of her friends home, to jam and smoke and eat. It was
always the same scene, party time, shed come in with a bunch of
them, hyped on the music like she always was, stoned maybe, too.
Theyd be carrying instruments and six-packs of beer, sometimes
a brown bag of cheap groceries, salami and cheese and crackers or
yogurt and rice cakes and tofu. Theyd set the groceries and beer
out on the table and start doodling around with their instruments
while my mom would say stuff like, Damn, look at this dump.
That damn landlord, he still hasnt been around. Billy, didnt the
landlord come by today? No? Shit, man, that jerks been promising
to fix this place for a year now. Damn.
Everyone would tell her not to sweat it, hell, their places were
just as bad, all landlords were assholes anyway. Usually someone
would get onto the Skoag thing, how it was a fine thing the
government could take care of alien refugee trash but wouldnt give its
own citizens a break on rent. If thered been a lot of Skoags at the
café that night, Mom and her friends would get into how Skoags
thought they were such hot shit, synthesizing music from their
greasy hides. I remember one kid who really got worked up, telling
everyone that theyd come to Earth to steal our music. According
to him, the government knew it and didnt care. He said there was
even a secret treaty that would give the Skoags free use of all
copyrighted music in the United States if they would give us blueprints
of their ships. No one paid much attention to him. Later that evening,
when he was really stoned, he came and sat on the floor by
my sofa and cried. He told me that he was a really great musician,
except that he couldnt afford a good synthesizer to compose on,
while those damn Skoags could just puff out their skins and make
every sound anybody had ever heard. He leaned real close and told
me that the real danger was that the Skoags would make up all
the good music before he even got a chance to try. Which I knew
was dumb. While Skoags can play anything theyve ever heard,
perfectly, no one had ever heard them play anything original. No
one had ever heard them play Skoag music, only ours. I started to
tell him that but he passed out on the floor by my sofa. Everyone
ignored him. They were into the food and the beer and the music.
All my moms parties were like that.
Id usually curl up on one end of the sofa, face to the cushions
and try to sleep, sometimes with a couple necking at the other end
of the sofa and two or three musicians in the kitchen, endlessly
rehearsing the same few bars of a song Id never heard before and
would never hear again. Thats what Mom was really into,
struggling musicians who were performing their own stuff in the little
play for tips places. Shed latch on to some guy and keep him with
her aid check. Shed watch over him like he was gold, go with him
every day, sit by him on the sidewalk while he played if he were a
street musician, or take a table near the band if he was working
cafés and clubs. Theyd come home late and sleep late, and then
get up and go out again. Sometimes Id come in from school and
find them sitting at the kitchen table, talking. Its funny. The men
always looked the same, eyes like starved dogs, and it seems like
my mom would always be saying the same thing. Dont give up.
Youve got a real talent. Someday youll make it, and youll look
back at them and laugh. Youve really got it, Lennie (or Bobby or
Pete or Lance). I know it. I can feel it, I can hear it. Youre gonna
be big one day.
Excerpted from The Inheritance and Other Stories by Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm Copyright © 2011 by Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm. Excerpted by permission of Harper Voyager. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Excellent collection of short stories. I love the other's opening remarks about how the story sort of came to be. I have read a lot of her books and always look forward to more.
This ten story collection showcases how talented Margaret Lindholm is as both her pseudonyms have published super shots and novels. The introduction will fascinate fans of "both" writers as to how the two names and their distinct styles came into being. Part I focuses on the Lindholm persona with seven modern day profound science fiction and fantasy tales that place people in subtly extraordinary situations; five of them previously published between 1989 and 1993 all worth making the "Cut". These also include two award finalists ("A Touch of Lavender" and "Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man") and two new shorts ("Finis" and "Drum Machine"). Part II provides three Robin Hobb medieval-like fantasies with two previously published (the novella "Homecoming" and the title tale "The Inheritance" both in the Realm of the Elderlings). The final contribution "Cat's Meat" is a new story. All ten entries are well written and affirm why Margaret Lindholm as Megan Lindholm and as Robin Hobbs is critically acclaimed. Part of the fun is to compare the writing styles to see if the reader can draw the conclusion that Duane Wilkins did. Though I still fail to see what he saw except that in each contribution regardless of size the star(s) are fully developed and that in either persona this winning anthology affirms the talent of Ms. Lindholm. Harriet Klausner
great book of short stories by robin hobb and her other pen name megan lindholm. I'm not usually a fan of short stories but these were all absolutely engaging and once i started reading i couldn't stop.
I always find it interesting to follow an author's development. You can see how she formed the ideas for her long fiction in some of these stories. Some of them are raw, she has definitely gotten better with age and practice, but I have to say I really prefer her novels. I much prefer it when her female characters have more spunk and fight in them.
I¿m not usually much of a short story reader. I like my novels. But I snagged an Early Reviewer copy of Robin Hobb¿s The Inheritance: And Other Stories, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE her Mad Ship Trilogy and the Dragon Wilds Chronicles, so I was actually kind of excited to win this one. I¿d never read anything by her alter ego, Megan Lindholm, so I was dubious about that half of the book, but I was pleasantly surprised.Great stuff. Solid Science fiction and fantasy.A Touch of Lavender ¿ I thought this was a literary piece at first, and was disappointed, but it turned out to be an intriguing sci-fi story instead about an alien named Lavender who falls in love with a human woman. The story is told from her son¿s point of view, who watches in horror as his mother becomes addicted to the slimy excretion of the alien¿s skin and falls into the all-too-familiar downward spiral of a junkie¿s life.Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man ¿ Not my favorite, but short and sweet. A writer who has given up on her dreams finds mystery and romance with a customer who claims to be a magician, but keeps vanishing at inopportune moments ¿ often leaving her to pay the check.Cut ¿ This one gave me the creeps. A somewhat morbid and perhaps a little too realistic tale set in the not-too-distant future. It¿s about a teenage girl who wants to free herself from the `bondage¿ of sexual desire, and her mother and grandmother¿s desperate attempts to keep her from mutilating herself.The Fifth Squashed Cat ¿ A hitchhiker shows two women how a special bone from a dead cat contains a special kind of magic¿for some. Strays ¿ A strange young woman escapes into a hoard of stray cats to escape her abusive family life.Finis ¿ A vampire story, with a bit of a twist. Better than some vampire stories I¿ve read, and short enough to keep me from becoming impatient from yet another vampiric tale.Drum Machine ¿ One of the more forgettable stories in the book. I¿m honestly having trouble remembering what it was about. Something to do with standardizing standardization. Everyone¿s the same, all the time, even the music.Homecoming ¿ Yay, Rain Wilds! This was my favorite story in the book. A peek into the history of Bingtown. This is the tale of the very first settlers in the Rain Wilds and their struggle to fend off the madness and survive in a harsh and magical land.The Inheritance ¿ Title story. A grandmother dies, leaving her granddaughter virtually nothing ¿ except a wizardwood pendant, which comes to life and helps the cast out grandchild of a Bingtown Trader reclaim what is hers.Cats Meat ¿ Yet another cat story, although it was a good one. The father of Rosemary¿s son returns after abandoning them three years ago. He demands access to the home and the life she has built up from nothing but a run-down cottage. He threatens Rosemary and her son, and their only hope for salvation comes in the form of the disgruntled cat who shares their home.Altogether, it was a delightful anthology. Very original, and I loved getting to revisit the worlds she¿s created. I may have to re-read the Liveship trilogy again, even though I have a stack of new books a mile high awaiting my attention.My only complaint is that there were too many cat stories, and that most of them involved dead or dying cats. I¿m not a cat person anyway. I don¿t think they¿re smarter than people or dogs, they can¿t solve mysteries, and they¿re neither sensitive nor special. Take them away, thank you. That being said, I also don¿t enjoy reading about them being tortured, boiled, or eaten.I hope she writes some more Rain Wilds books soon.
Robin Hobb is one of my favorite authors, and though I knew she also wrote under the name Megan Lindholm, I had never read Lindholm previously. This anthology was a great introduction to both of the author's signature styles. In reading the Lindholm stories, I discovered that I had actually read one of them before, "The Fifth Squashed Cat." It was a story that stuck with me for a long time after reading it the first time, and still resonated this time around. Though I do have to say that the story which most sucked me in was the first, "A Touch of Lavender." The world created in the story unfolds with perfect timing, bits and pieces dropped along the way, building a picture of the strange, dangerous place lived in by the young protagonist.Being a fan of Hobb to start with, I of course enjoyed the stories set in the world of Hobb's most intriguing creations, the Elderlings. The real stand-out here was, again, the first story, Homecoming. I find the Rain Wilds and the ruined cities there to be a fascinating setting, and I loved getting a glimpse at the early years of that civilization. The second Hobb story, The Inheritance, was certainly enjoyable, but I felt it was also a bit...uninspired. It didn't have quite the emotional depth I've come to expect from Hobb.Over all, this is a most satisfying collection. Whether you're a Lindholm fan, a Hobb fan, or a fan of both, you will find much to enjoy here.
This book surprised me - I was expecting a book filled with well written, but mostly generic type stories. Instead, I get a wonderful book with stories of magic, but character driven with very original plot. If I had to say something about how these stories feel - its reads a more down to earl Urusula LeGuin. So, onto the reviews!A Touch of Lavender- This is one of the weaker stories of the anthology. It tells the story of a boy, his junkie Mom, her alien love, and the little sister that is a bit odd.Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man- I liked this one. We get a story of a down and out writer who meets a magician. Only he keeps disappearing and stiffing her with the bill. Cut- An odd story about a near future where teens have total control over their sexuality. Its a story about the current rights of teens to have control over things like birth control and STD prevention taken to a new level.The Fifth Squashed Cat- A story about being surrounded by special people with a particular sort of magic, and not having it yourself.Strays- One of the more bleak stories in the book - a young girl is at the end of a line of abuse. Her new friend is torn between helping her or staying out of trouble.Finis - A vampire story with a twist. That is all. A great story with a different sort of vampire than the current fads.Drum Machine - Conformity is everything in this world where standardization has become the ultimate standard, even down to the music and children. Homecoming- This is the best story in the whole book. Here we have a story of a pampered artist, the wife of a powerful lord, who travels to an unexplored land with husband. During the journey, secrets are revealed, but more importantly the narrator find strength that changes her.The Inheritance- this is the title story of book. A woman gets turned out of her home when her grandma dies. On the advice of a magical pendant, she moves to the city and regains what her grandmother lost years ago. Cats Meat- When the father of Rosemary's child decides to come back, Rosemary needs to find ways to protect her, and her young son, All with the help of her cat. Who in typical cat fashion helps in a way only a cat can.
This is my first time reading any of Hobb's Lindholm stories. Perhaps my favorite aspect was I had no idea where she was going with each story despite her introductions to each. She writes with a gritty sense of realism that pulls you in immediately and keeps you invested despite the strangeness of the fantastical or bazaar elements. My favorite of these would have to be A Touch of Lavendar, Cut, Strays and Drum Machine. In her introduction to Cut she says "I like to think...that I write stories because I have a question. Not the answer, mind you, but just the question." I found myself thinking about the stories for a time afterwards wondering how I would feel and what would I do in those situations.The second half of the book is her more well known fantasy writing as Hobb. I am about half way through and enjoying those as well although in a different way. After reading Homecoming, I am really looking forward to reading her Realm of the Elderling series. Recommended.
The Inheritance: And Other StoriesRobin HobbHarper Voyager (2011), Edition: Original, Paperback, 400 pagesThe many voices of Megan/Robin/Lindholm/Hobb. A collection of short stories ranging from Bingtown and Rain Wild to a suburban Sears and more. There is a delightful cast of characters and creatures; from cats to 'coons, vampires and aliens. The tales stand well on their own, but some provide glimpses into worlds we're familiar with from her other books. Nice pace and lengths for those times when you just have a short time and can't get entranced in something you can't put down. A fine selection of 'tea time' reading.
I have read all of the Robin Hobb novels, but the three stories included here were new to me, and I had never read Megan Lindholm stories before; I knew that the Lindholm stories were said to be a very different style from those the author rights as Robin Hobb, and they are. I am happy to report that I like them both.The Megan Lindholm stories are twisty little self contained tales, as likely to be SF as fantasy, and the fantasy is a quieter sort of magical realism. I think fans of Neil Gaiman's short stories would be a natural audience for them.The Robin Hobb stories are all set in the Realm of the Elderlings world, and are best appreciated as a part of the larger series, as some concepts are only hinted at that the full series explains. I found "Cat's Meat" somewhat anticlimactic for spoilery reasons that I won't mention, but even in that case I enjoyed the chance to revisit the world.
I've long been a fan of Megan Lindholm, so I quite enjoyed the first half of this book. I was surprised, however, by the fact that I also really enjoyed the second half of the book. I've always found Robin Hobb to be a good, but tedious writer. These shorter stories worked well for me and interested me in her work. Megan/Robin clearly has two very different styles depending on which name she is writing under, and this book is a good introduction to both. Worth reading - it may open up new frontiers for those who are a fan of one pseudonym or the other.
I quite liked "A Touch of Lavender", the opening story in this collection, about an a young girl and her impoverished mother dealing with an alien refugee culture, and "Finis", a vampire story whose character dynamics were interesting enough to support the story despite a perhaps overly-telegraphed twist ending. Unfortunately, the rest of the book didn't live up to them. "The Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man" was overly cutesy; most of the rest of the book seemed pointlessly depressing, often with hamhanded political messages thrown in (as in "Cut" and "Drum Machine"). There was also a recurring theme of "people who like to analyze things don't get to appreciate the joys of life" that I found seriously unpleasant (probably most present in "The Fifth Squashed Cat", but it recurred throughout).
Read evrything do far and own all the books on paperback.