It’s unfortunate that my first encounter with Michael Swanwick’s stories was “A Small Room in Koboldtown,” which underwhelmed me. I thought “From Babel’s Fallen Glory We Fled” was pretty good, but still unsatisfying. These two left me unprepared for how much I would love “Hello, said the Stick.” I first encountered it a reading on the Drabblecast. He had me at “gallowglass.”
A soldier picks up a talking stick. Their conversation reveals the war going on and how both sides are cheating. Although the soldier is a canny survivor, the reader is ahead of him, and the stick is ahead of us both. A quick story that ends with a nice little evil laugh.
I liked it so much, that when I found out it’s collected in The Dog Said Bow-Wow, that went straight into my “books to look up” list. Eventually I even read it.