Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Asprin, Robert Lynn

(1946-2008) US writer and anthologist who began publishing sf with The Cold Cash War (1977) and several further sf novels; he has become much better known, however, for fantasy, especially for the Myth series of Arabian-Fantasy romps, his most accomplished work: Another Fine Myth ... (1978), Myth Conceptions (1980), Myth Directions (1982), Hit or Myth (dated 1983 but 1984), Myth-ing Persons (1984), Little Myth Marker (1985), M.Y.T.H. Inc Link (1986), Myth-Nomers and Im-pervections (1987), M.Y.T.H. Inc in Action (1990) and Sweet Myth-tery of Life (1994). A US omnibus, Myth Adventures (omni 1984), assembled the first four titles; two UK omnibuses, The Myth-ing Omnibus (omni 1992 UK) and The Second Myth-ing Omnibus (omni 1992 UK), assembled the first six titles. Two Comics collections – Myth Adventures One (graph coll 1985) and Myth Adventures Two (graph coll 1986), both with artist Phil Foglio – were based on the first novel in the series; further comic work, not in book form, is Myth Adventures #9-#12 (all 1986) and Myth Conceptions #1-#8 (1985-1987). According to RA, the series, which features the adventures of a wacky Duo of magician and Demon, is based on the "Road To" Movies featuring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and treats its large array of fantasy figures in an appropriately slapstick manner somewhat after the fashion of L Sprague de Camp. The Duncan and Mallory series of Graphic NovelsDuncan and Mallory (graph 1986), The Bar-None Ranch (graph 1987) and The Raiders (graph 1988), all with artist Mel White – features a Knight with a dragon Companion. Other fantasy of interest includes Catwoman * (1992; vt Catwoman: Tiger Hunt 1993 UK) with Lynn Abbey, tied to Batman Returns (1992; > Batman Movies).

It is, however, in the creation and editorial supervision of the Thieves' World sequence of Shared-World anthologies, some worked up into novel-like Braids, that RLA – in collaboration with Abbey – has done his most original work. The sequence comprises 12 volumes: Thieves' World * (anth 1979), Thieves World #2: Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn * (anth 1980) and #3: Shadows of Sanctuary * (anth 1981), all three assembled as Sanctuary * (omni 1982); #4: Storm Season * (anth 1982), #5: The Face of Chaos * (anth 1983) – from this volume on, Abbey is listed as co-editor – and #6: Wings of Omen * (anth 1984), all three assembled as Cross-Currents * (omni 1985); #7: The Dead of Winter * (anth 1985), #8: Soul of the City * (anth 1985) and #9: Blood Ties * (anth 1986), all three assembled as The Shattered Sphere * (omni 1986); and #10: Aftermath * (anth 1987), #11: Uneasy Alliances * (anth 1988) and #12: Stealer's Sky * (anth 1989), all three assembled as The Price of Victory * (omni 1990). Graphic-novel versions of material from the sequence have been published as Thieves' World Graphics #1 * (graph 1985), #2 * (graph 1986), #3 * (graph 1986), #4: * (graph 1987), #5 * (graph 1987) and #6 * (graph 1988), all with artist Tim Sale. Set in the city of Sanctuary, in an unremarkable Fantasyland, the sequence traces the adventures of various characters out of the repertory of Sword and Sorcery as they cope with their congenially criminous lives, and as Sanctuary itself must respond to various internal and external threats. Each main character has been used primarily by the author originally responsible for him/her, though each tends to appear in minor roles in others' stories as the sequence winds onward. The impressive list of authors who have contributed to Thieves' World includes both editors, Poul Anderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, John Brunner, C J Cherryh, David Drake, Diane Duane, Philip José Farmer, Joe Haldeman, Vonda N McIntyre, Janet Morris, Diana L Paxson and A E van Vogt. Associated novels are Shadowspawn * (1987) by Andrew J Offutt, Dagger * (1988) by David Drake, City at the Edge of Time * (1988) by Chris and Janet Morris, and the Tempus series by Janet Morris.

RLA has also co-edited some volumes in the Winds of Change shared-world sequence run by Richard Pini.

As a writer of comic fantasy, RLA gives pleasure though his clarity and a good sense of timing; his language, however, is not resourceful. [JC]

other works: Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe (1979) with George Takei; The Bug Wars (1979); Tambu (1979); the Phule's Company sequence of sf adventures comprising Phule's Company (1990) and Phule's Paradise (1992).

Robert Lynn Asprin

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.