The Keeper's Price

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Title: The Keeper's Price
Creator: various
Date(s): 1980
Medium: print
Fandom: Darkover
Language: English
External Links:

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cover of the first edition
cover of a later edition

The Keeper's Price was published by DAW Books and the Friends of Darkover. It is a collection of Darkover fiction edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

The first edition includes "The Friends of Darkover" on its front cover, subsequent editions do not.

Five of the stories in this anthology were first published in the zine Starstone.

From the Book's Foreword world; I think it's fun. Besides, how else can I get to read Darkover stories without going to the trouble of reading them? Don knew that I made a habit of publishing, in Starstone, various short bits of Darkover fiction which I considered too short, or too fragmentary, to develop into novels. he spoke to me once about doing an anthology of short Darkover fiction, and when I told him there simply not enough of these short stories to make up a paperback, he suggested that I might include the best of the short stories written by the Friends of Darkover, some of whom showed tremendous talent.

…by reading the Darkover short stories written by my young fans, and sometimes criticizing them and trying to explain just what is wrong with them, I have somehow learned to write short stories myself and been encouraged to try my hand at this best and subtlest of fictional forms. The four stories in this volume are, I think, among the best of my short stories, and they were written because, after seeing the kind of mistakes I could recognize in other people’s stories, I could learn to avoid them in my own writing. So that I have learned as much from my fans as I hope they have learned from me about the art of writing.

Some critics have been disturbed about the possibility that I might exploit my young fans, or steal their ideas, or use their work in future novels. No, except that everything I read finds its way into my subconscious, there to undergo a sea-change which alters raw ideas into fiction. But this is just as likely to happen with a story by roger Zelanzy – or Daphne du Maurier – or Agatha Christie – or Pearl S. Buck.

Of course I get ideas from my young fans, just as I give them ideas. But as for stealing their ideas – I have quite enough ideas of my own. If their ideas find lodgment in my head, it is in the same way that I “got the idea” for my novel Planet Savers by reading a classic study of a multiple personality, as an assignment in my psychology class; or that I might get an idea from National Geographic or Scientific American, which are magazines in which I browse when temporarily short of inspiration…

This is why I don’t mind other writers writing about Darkover, and at the same time, I have no wish and no need to exploit their ideas. If I ever do make use of a fan’s writing, it will be so altered and transmuted by its trip through my own personal dream-space that even the inventor would never recognize her idea, so alien it would be when I got through with it!

Nor do I feel threatened by stories not consistent with my own personal view of Darkover. To me all Darkover stories written by anyone else are presumed to be in a parallel world to “my” Darkover; or one of the parallel universes, which can be very close to my Darkover, or very different, just as the young writer wishes.

Because, in a very real sense, I regard myself not as the “inventor” of Darkover, but its discoverer. I others wish to play in my fantasy world, who am I to slam its gates and in churlish voice demand that they build their own? If they are capable of it, they will do someday. Meanwhile, if they wish to write of Darkover, they will. All the selfish exclusiveness of the Conan Doyle estate (which went so far as to demand that the late Ellery Queen anthology, ‘The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes’, a very fine volume of Holmes pastiches, be withdrawn from sale and never reprinted, thus denying Holmes lovers a wonderful reading experience) as not stopped lovers of Sherlock from writing their own stories and secretly sharing them. Why should I deny myself the pleasure of seeing these young writers learning to their thing by , for a little while, doing my things with me?

Or, look at it this way. When I was a little kid, I was a great lover of ‘pretend’ games, but after I was nine or ten, I could never get anyone to play them with me. And now I have a lot fo fans, and friends, who will come into my magic garden and play the old ‘pretend games’ with me.

Not until women saw Star Trek did they start identifying themselves, just as young children did, with the heroes and heroines of that universe. They were too old to put on Vulcan ears and Enterprise T-shirts and play at being Spock, Kirk, Uhura, and their friends, so they wrote stories about them instead. And, in a wave of amateur fiction, completely unlike any phenomenon in science fiction history, these stories somehow got published in amateur magazines. There were hundreds of them; or let me amend that; there were thousands , though I have only read a few hundred. And when they were sated with Star Trek, many of them turned to Darkover. I don’t agree with Jacqueline Lichtenberg that ‘Darkover is just an advanced version of Star Trek for grownups.’ I was never that much of a Star Trek fan, and not till after I knew Jacqueline did I ever learn much about the phenomenon of Star Trek fandom. Jacqueline, driven like myself, one of those who created her own fantasy world in her teens and transmuted it into a professional series as an adult, used Star Trek fandom, calculatedly (as I used the fanzines built around the old pulp fiction) as a way of learning her craft and getting her early writings in print; she wrote a whole series of Star Trek novels. Then, having found her feet and perfected her craft, she began to speak her own voice and build her own characters, and has now published two novels, and sold three others, in her own world. [1]


  • III. Under the Comyn
    • The Rescue by Linda MacKendrick (reprinted from Starstone #3)
    • The Keeper’s Price by Marion Zimmer Bradley & Elisabeth Waters (reprinted from Starstone #1)
    • The Hawk-Master’s Son by Marion Zimmer Bradley (was listed on the flyer for Starstone #3, but it wasn't in the zine)
    • A Simple Dream by Penny Ziegler, M.D. (reprinted from Starstone #3)
    • Paloma Blanca by Patricia Mathews
    • Blood Will Tell by Marion Zimmer Bradley


  1. ^ from the foreward to The Keeper's Price, DAW books, 1980