The Masque of the Red Pencil

Only one power in the cosmos can rewrite the laws of Death….

The Masque of the Red Pencil
Swashbuckling Editor Stories
Wildside Press • 1993

As you might guess from the title, this is a very strange anthology — but it was also a lot of fun.  [This despite the fact that somehow, I never did see the signature sheets for the limited hardcover edition….]

Read an Excerpt….

Death strode through the cobbled streets of Descenium with purposeful steps and a full list of clients.

Then the telephone rang.


“We’ve just signed the contract with Ace,” came Coster’s voice.  “We’re going to do another four Descenium books.”

Cameron Stuart narrowly avoided spilling coffee on the final manuscript of Tales of Descenium 4, sitting next to the keyboard on his desk.  “But–but you said they’d never go for it!”

“So I was wrong.  Apparently returns were much lower than we thought,” said the packager.  “Unfortunately, I still need book four on my desk by Friday — condition of the deal.  You did say you’d finished editing the stories?”

“Y–yes,” Cameron said, fighting panic.  “But, well, most of the writers killed their characters off this time, since it was going to be the last book.”

Coster’s tone was impatient.  “You’re the editor, resurrect them.  That’s what red pencils are for.  If anyone objects, we’ll fix it in galleys.  Manuscript by Friday, then.”  The line clicked off.

Cameron put down the phone, stared down at the manuscript, and sighed.  Red pencil, he thought, switching the computer on.


Death strode through the cobbled streets of Descenium with purposeful steps, a full list of clients — and behind him, a shadowy figure wielding a red wand.