“The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard)”
Ed. Ellen Datlow
March 15, 2017
English Language
2017 Nebula Award Finalist, 2018 Eugie Award Finalist, The Best Science Fiction of the Year - Volume 3

Cover Art by Scott Bakal.

“This is a story of longing and of looking back. Of decline—in health, in life. And of finding something at the end of life that is unexpected but wonderful….It’s an inspiring and elegant story and a great read!”
Charles Payseur, Quick Sip Reviews

“Matthew Kressel writes a hauntingly sweet and tragic story in “The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard).” Reuth, the last novelist in the universe, is dying and comes to the distant planet of Ardabaab to finish his novel. He befriends a local girl who is intrigued by the foreign art skill he demonstrates, and she becomes his apprentice. The story revolves around the relationship of these two characters, exploring the passion and the often unappreciated talent of an artist. The speculative elements remain in the background, allowing this to be a quiet and subtle character study. I found it to be one of those great tales that knows just when to be verbose, and knows just when to step back and let the characters shine.
–Adrian McCauley, Tangent Online

“The story is just the right length, with just the right pace (leisurely, but not slow, with an ever-present sense of the ticking clock), and comes together beautifully in the end with some emotional and thematic weight…a delight to read.”
Featured Futures

“This is tip-of-the-iceberg writing where the creator is able to convey the girthy body of the whole lurking underneath the water without having to ever tell us that it’s there. We know it’s there. We don’t need any more explanation, and I like that. This is fully-realized fiction, a very strong piece and one of my favorites from this month.”
Out of That World

“Five CHARMING Stars. The TOR.com Original sci-fi short story, “The Last Novelist (or, A Dead Lizard in the Yard)” is by talented author Matthew Kressel. Just in time, the main character, author Reuth Bryan Diaso, has come to the planet Ardabaab by thoughtship determined to complete a mission when he encounters a new friend. The author skillfully and presumptively gives the reader unfamiliar new terms, devices, animals, and locales in this tropical paradise but they intuitively fit easily into the storyline without a lot of explanation. A fateful trip enlightened by very descriptive word pictures. Highly Recommended. Five CLIMATIC Stars.” —from Amazon.com reviewer RBSProds