The Starlit Wood: Max Gladstone

In today’s Starlit Wood post, Max Gladstone discusses “Giants in the Sky”.

1. What was the inspiration for your story in The Starlit Wood?

The term “beanstalk” has a second life outside of fairy tales, in fiction about space elevators. I wanted to play on this connection, and tell a posthuman sort of fairy tale, from the perspective of the fairies.

2. What appealed to you about a fairy tale anthology?

Fairy tales are myths that people without power tell: they’re folk stories about life in a world beyond your control, about encounters with beings beyond your ken, tales of normal people trying to survive. They’re the stories for our moment.

They’re stories with roots, too. They’ve been polished and shaped by generations of hands: vicious little memetic predators, sleek and evolved. It’s as dangerous to deal with fairy tales as it is to deal with fairies. They’ve been around longer than you, with their sharp and hidden edges. But sometimes we love challenges.

3. Can you recall the first fairy tale you ever read or that was read to you?

The first fairy tale I can remember was some version of the Billy Goats Gruff.

4. What’s your favourite folk/fairy tale and why?

Jack and the Beanstalk has a soft place in my heart, but mostly because of “Giants in the Sky” from Into the Woods.

5. What’s next for you?

Too many things! My most recent novel, RUIN OF ANGELS, just came out last month, and right now I’m driving on a number of projects I can’t wait to announce.


Max Gladstone is a two-time finalist for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award,  and a one-time finalist for the XYZZY and Lambda Awards. In July 2016 Tor Books published his most recent novel, FOUR ROADS CROSS, a tale of sovereign debt and dead gods.  FOUR ROADS CROSS is the fifth Craft Sequence novel, preceded by THREE PARTS DEAD, TWO SERPENTS RISE, FULL FATHOM FIVE, and LAST FIRST SNOW. His most recent project is the globetrotting urban fantasy serial BOOKBURNERS, available in ebook and audio from Serial Box, and in print from Saga Press.

Max studied Chan poetry and late Ming dynasty fiction at Yale; he lived and taught for two years in rural Anhui province, and has traveled throughout Asia and Europe. He speaks Chinese, can embarrass himself reading Latin, and is a martial artist, fencer, and fiddler. He’s also worked as a researcher for the Berkman Center for Internet and Policy Law, a tour guide for the Swiss Embassy, a go-between for a suspicious Chinese auto magazine, a translator for visiting Chinese schoolteachers, a Chinese philosophy TA, a tech industry analyst, and an editor. He has wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat, sung at Carnegie Hall, and been thrown from a horse in Mongolia


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