Sir Harold and the Gnome King

first publication date:  1991
genre:  fantasy
part of the series:  Harold Shea
original title:  Sir Harold and the Gnome King
original language:  English

Sir Harold and the Gnome King is a fantasy novella by American writer L. Sprague de Camp, as part of the Harold Shea series he originated in collaboration with Fletcher Pratt and later continued with Christopher Stasheff. It was first published in the 1990 World Fantasy Convention Program Book. It first appeared in book form as a limited edition hardcover chapbook issued by Wildside Press in August, 1991, with a paperback edition following from the same publisher in October of the same year. In addition to the title story, the book includes an afterword by de Camp and illustrations by Stephen Fabian; the paperback edition also has a cover by Fabian. The story was afterwards reprinted, slightly revised, in de Camp and Stasheff's shared world anthology The Enchanter Reborn (1992). The original version was later reprinted together with the remainder of the de Camp/Pratt Harold Shea stories in the collection The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which universes where magic works coexist with our own, and in which those based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world and can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. In Sir Harold and the Gnome King, Shea visits two such worlds, first (briefly) that of L. Ron Hubbard's setting from The Case of the Friendly Corpse (actually invented by John D. Clark and Mark Baldwin) and second L. Frank Baum's land of Oz. As originally written, Sir Harold and the Gnome King was a direct sequel to de Camp and Pratt's previous Harold Shea story "The Green Magician", and appears to have been intended to tie up the main loose end remaining from that story, in which Shea's colleague Walter Bayard had been left stranded in the world of Irish mythology. Another issue addressed was a long-standing plot complication introduced by L. Ron Hubbard's "borrowing" of Shea for use in his novella The Case of the Friendly Corpse (1941), previously ignored by de Camp and Pratt. While the collaborators' original discussions for a sequel to "The Green Magician" had called for a story set in the world of Persian mythology, de Camp abandoned that plan in the sequel written. When the story was reprinted in The Enchanter Reborn another tale, "Professor Harold and the Trustees", was interposed between it and "The Green Magician", necessitating some alteration to take into account the events of the new story. This was clumsily done through the insertion of a phrase into one sentence in a way that disturbed the actual sense of the sentence; further, a longer block of text was allowed to remain which should have been excised, as it directly contradicts the account of the new story. Source: Wikipedia (en)

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