The Book of the Week is the hardcover first edition of Fire Watch, signed and inscribed by Greeley, Colorado author Connie Willis (cover art by Tom Kidd). As nice as it was to find a 100-year-old first edition of The Jungle, this was my most exciting acquisition at the book sale mentioned last week. Connie Willis is an amazing author and one of the most decorated writers in the history of science fiction and fantasy -- she has won Hugo Awards in fiction categories eight times and Nebula Awards six times, both more than any other author ever (and she is a contender for a ninth Hugo Award this year for her excellent novella "Inside Job").
Fire Watch is a collection of short fiction, published in 1984. It was Willis's first solo book (she had previously coauthored Water Witch, a collaboration with Cynthia Felice). Two of the stories in Fire Watch had won the first of her many awards to come -- the title story, about a time traveler caught in the London Blitz of World War II, won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novelette of 1982 and the poignant "A Letter from the Clearys" won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story of 1982 -- yet Willis was still relatively unknown when the book was published. Because of this, and because collections of short fiction generally do not sell as well as novels, the initial print run for Fire Watch was quite small, which is why copies of the first edition (especially signed copies) are highly prized by collectors.
Connie Willis signed my copy of Fire Watch two weeks ago, when she was so amazingly kind as to come to Denver to meet with my son and a group of his 4th and 5th grade classmates, who had just finished reading her outstanding novel Doomsday Book, next week's Book of the Week.