"Caves in Cliffs"

The protagonist here is Jack Farmer, and he's a lecturer for the University of Maryland's European Division, teaching at the time the story begins on the island of Crete, in Greece. Well, I used to be a lecturer for the University of Maryland's European Division, and, not long before I wrote this story, I'd had an assignment on the island of Crete, in Greece — and my last name, Pachter, though not Dutch, also happens to be a Dutch word meaning "tenant farmer," so you can draw your own conclusion.

In the story, Jack tries to do the right thing in a bad situation and winds up proving out the old saying that "no good deed goes unpunished." It wasn't until years later that I realized that, at the time I was writing "Caves in Cliffs," I was in my personal life paying a steep price for having tried to do the right thing in a bad situation. I won't bore you with the details, but that's another level on which this could be considered one of the most autobiographical of my writings.

On the other hand, almost all of my fiction is mystery fiction, and this one's a fantasy . . . and very different from the sort of thing I knew how to market. So it went unsold for several years, until my Dutch publisher, Peter Loeb, insisted that I needed to include something of my own in my Top Fantasy anthology, and I picked this one as the only fantasy I'd ever written. As it turned out, the Dutch edition was never published, but when J.M. Dent & Sons signed on to do a British version and cut the original contents list in half, they insisted on keeping "Caves in Cliffs" in the book despite my objection that the space could be better given to an author better known in the genre.

Several years later, I made a younger Jack Farmer the hero of my first novel, Dutch T(h)reat. I used the character one last time, in "The Milky Way ," which is set about a year after the events of the novel and well before Jack comes to a bad end in "Caves in Cliffs."

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