“Winter Solstice” — Mike Resnick

According to Locus Magazine, Mike Resnick has won more awards for short fiction than any other science fiction writer, living or dead. He is perhaps best known for his critically-acclaimed Kirinyaga series of short stories, but is also the author of more than fifty novels. In addition to his work as a writer, Resnick has also edited dozens of anthologies and served as executive editor for the online magazine Jim Baen’s Universe. Recent work includes a new collection, Blasphemy, just out from Golden Gryphon, and a new novel, The Buntline Special, from Pyr, due in December. Also, earlier this year, a nonfiction book, The Business of Science Fiction (written with Barry Malzberg), was released. Learn more at mikeresnick.com.

Perhaps the most famous wizard of them all is Merlin the magician, a staple of Arthurian legend. The character goes all the way back to Geoffrey of Monmouth in the twelfth century, and the story has been embellished over the years by numerous other authors, such as Thomas Malory (Le Morte d’Arthur), T. H. White (The Once and Future King), and Mary Stewart (The Crystal Cave). Though there are many variations, Merlin is generally remembered as having been sired by an incubus (a demon), which gave him supernatural powers. He tutored Arthur and helped him become king, and was eventually imprisoned in a crystal cave by the Lady of the Lake.

“I wrote this story the day I learned that my late mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s,” Resnick says. “I tried to imagine what it was like for her, going to bed each night and knowing she’d wake up a little less intelligent each morning. I knew I needed to work it out fictionally. Then I remembered that the Merlin of The Once and Future King, my favorite fantasy novel, lived backward in time, and I decided I could use that as a metaphor.”