All the Time in the World

My taste in reading material is wide and varied: SF/fantasy/"speculative fiction", mysteries (police procedurals, mostly), history, fanfic, straight fiction, smutty vampire books, biographies, poetry, cereal boxes, assembly instructions, the fine print, and your mind.

Thieves' World

Thieves' World - Robert Lynn Asprin, Lynn Abbey, John Brunner, Poul Anderson, Andrew J. Offutt, Joe Haldeman, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Christine DeWees I stumbled across the first volume of the Thieves' World anthology series shortly after it came out, and being a die-hard, ultimately I bought and read all 12 of the collections (and most of the novels), but after about vol. 6 it was more a labor of stamina and obligation than one of love.

The town of Sanctuary is a sort of robbers' den of a town, at the far reaches of an empire that's seen better days - in other words, not much of a law and order kind of place. The trick to these stories, tho', is that any of the participating authors could use any character created by another author, and do anything to them short of killing them. As a result, we had a male character who, in the hands of another author, was recast as a woman in disguise; a thief of unknown parentage who started out just as a simple, hard-working criminal, but later learned that he was more than human; and, in one case, a military type who was revealed to be the avatar of a god and therefore immortal, which allowed another author to have him kidnapped and tortured at length by vivisection (yeah, they cut him up and he healed - over and over again. Didn't kill him - just hurt him. A lot.) The authors just had to roll with the changes, as it were.

They were a hell of a lot of fun to read, until the whole thing devolved into repeated clashes between the various factions inhabiting Sanctuary - the failing imperial force, bands of mercenaries prone to switching sides at a moment's notice, an exiled ruler of still another country and her own entourage, including a well-armed militia... I intentionally avoid political thrillers because the who's-doing-what-to-whom part bores me, and I hate it when my SF goes that way. I soldiered on (pun sort of intended) until the series ended with Book 12, but it was only for the sake of finishing the job in a way, not because I was really enjoying the stories. Besides, they lost several of my favorite authors and their characters along the way, which took some of the gloss off.