Assassin and Other Stories

by Steven Barnes
Release date: 2010
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: science fiction, fantasy, short stories

Cover art by Duncan Long.

After Abdul-Wahid saw his parents killed by Crusaders, he and his foster brother fled the ruins of their village and life ahead of the invaders. Found by members of the feared assassins, Abdul-Wahid was taken in and trained, only to find the need to suppress his desire for vengeance in the face of the greater good of his community.

His quest for retribution, and justice, takes him from the peak of the fabled fortress of Alamut, home of the legendary assassins, to the coastal villages of Gaza and into the tent of the great Saracen commander Saladin, himself.

As one of the fabled assassins, can Abdul-Wahid retain his humanity while he leaves behind an evergrowing number of bodies? As he travels around the Mideast on assignments, he must deal not only with those who have been marked for death and their defenders, but also the regular people who live in the villages and towns who want nothing more than to see the end of strife and be allowed to find love, have children, and grow old, something Abdul-Wahid can’t picture himself doing.

Beginning with a brand new Steven Barnes novel, Assassin and Other Stories includes four additional short stories and a previously unpublished teleplay.

After seeing his village destroyed by Crusaders, Abdul-Wahid and his foster brother, Hakeem, flee the ruins, only to be found and raised by the dreaded assassins, a path Abdul-Wahid sees as presenting him with a way of achieving vengeance on the men who killed his parents. But as he is trained, he learns that the ways of the assassin are not simply about killing and emotion.

The other stories include two written with his wife, Tananarive Due: “The Woman in the Wall” and “Danger Word.”

“Danger Word” tells the story of a young boy and his grandfather in a world in which the living dead must be avoided and a little boy must grow up faster than anyone would like.

“The Woman in the Wall” is set in a war-torn central African nation where an African-American artist learns that people are people no matter where they are or where they come from.

“Trickster” presents a very different Africa. The villages of Tanzania are relatively unchanged, until a stranger shows up with stories of creatures from beyond the stars and the struggle between the underdeveloped countries and first world countries.

The Hugo Award-nominated “The Locusts,” written with Larry Niven, is Barnes’s debut story about the difficulties colonists find when trying to settle a new planet and finding out that their utopia won’t conform to their dreams.

“Father Steel” is a teleplay about the life of Hannibal and his encounter with a family of cannibals.

(updated 2017-01-21)

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