Marianne/Mare

INTRODUCTION

Back in the days when men's mags were one of the primary sources for weight gain fantasy fiction, the name B. Lewis Barrons was a familiar one to the cognoscenti; writing for a variety of magazines "Barrons" (real name: Lew Baird) was a prolific scribe until the day the men's mags that were the primary market for his brand of fanta-sizer fiction ceased to show an interest in it. Unlike many of us, Baird didn't follow his muse into the Internet, and when I asked him why once in an email correspondence, he simply wrote, "Got better things to do with my time these days." I took the man at his word, until about a month ago, when a large soft package arrived by mail at my address. Inside was a stack of manuscripts with pen marks and corrections all over them; paper clipped to the stack was a handwritten note from Lew:

"Couldn't get these stories out of my head," he wrote, "perhaps you can dispose of them as you see fit."

I quickly read through several and saw that they all were of a piece: short little fantasies narrated by the same figure, a mysterious gent who periodically is granted the power to transform one person's reality for good. This character is never named in any of the stories, though it's worth noting that the ex-cheerleader wife he mentions in passing shares the same first name as Lew's own wife. Perhaps this magical creature is meant to be an emblem of the storyteller?

Be that as it may, I have to confess that I don't personally find these exercises to be examples of Barron's writing at its finest: perhaps that's why he had them under his own name and not his more familiar nom-du-plume. His protagonists are barely fleshed beyond one-word descriptions ("haughty," "slender," etc.), while the writing isn't as effortlessly fluid as Baird could be at his best. They read dashed off - and most likely were - their only second drafting done in the margins with a red pen.

Still, unpolished Baird is better than no Baird at all. So I decided to begin transcribing these tales, making what changes I could read from his frequently illegible handwriting. Here's the first of them (note how the sneaky bastard slips a reference to one of my stories near the end); if interest in these little fantasies proves sufficient, I'll try to put aside more time to make a few more available to the fanta-sizer readership . . .

About the Illustration: The frontispiece for this tale was illustrated by FA artist The Studio, who also provided this writer with some small help in editing Baird's story. Many thanx!

Wilson Barbers
Normal, IL
April 2007

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