How cool is this! 2007 Hugo Award and Chesley Award nominee Lou Anders, editor of our standing scifi book of the month club selection (Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge), is here to answer your questions. And, he’s brought along some friends! Hopefully, once Fast Forward 2 comes out in October, he’ll feel up to doing this all over again. Hell, he doesn’t have to wait for October. He’s got an open invitation to guest here anytime.
Anyway, a big thank you to Lou for taking the time to do this, and thanks to the authors and ultra-talented artist John Picacio for participating as well.
Take it away, Lou…
I’d really like to thank each and every one of you for your considered and informative comments on all the stories, and for the kind words on my introduction. Coincidentally, I’m also struggling with the introduction to Fast Forward 2 this very week, and I was going to joke about how you were adding pressure to get it right, but I see Joe’s already done that, and more to the point, as I continue to read the comments (and the comments continue to come in!), I realize that what you are all saying is less adding pressure and more really informing the writing – and positively so! I’m totally nabbing that Asimov quote on the importance of SF (thank you Masterchief), and I’m going to quote Joe on the “escapist entertainment” bit, which will at the least nab him a special thanks in the book’s acknowledgement – and to the lot of you as well.
Now, before we get on to the content of the book and your questions, if you will indulge me I want to take a moment to talk about the cover. Because, really, we all do judge books by same, and it’s a pet peeve of mine that the illustrators who have labored right alongside the authors the entire, illustrious history of our field rarely get equal attention.
The cover of Fast Forward 1 is by my good friend and Hugo nominated artist, John Picacio, who is not only a hell of a guy and uber-talented, but the illustrator on all five of my currently available anthologies (Bob Eggleton is the illustrator on my forthcoming Sideways in Crime, out in June from Solaris Books: http://www.solarisbooks.com/books/sideways-crime/sideways-crime.asp) I asked John to give us a few words on how the cover image came about, which was very much influenced by our desire to envision “21st Century SF illustration” and discussions of the classic work of Richard Powers. John says:
Very cool to see all of the FF1 feedback here on Joe’s blog. Not only Joe’s take, but all of the blow-by-blow comments from everyone. Really invigorating to see this. I’m currently beginning work on the cover for Fast Forward 2, and the process begins much the same way as it did with FF1. For most of my covers, art directors trust me to generate my own ideas and run with the ball independently. I appreciate that. However in the initial stages of FF1, I preferred to do it differently, and instead play tennis with Lou. He volleys a thought my way, and it sparks something on my side, and I fire a return. And so on. From these small exchanges, something visual blooms in my head…something that neither us might have arrived at, if we wouldn’t have played tennis together first…and I end up creating an illustration like you see for the FF1 wraparound cover. (http://www.johnpicacio.com/blogpics/FASTFORWARDwrap.jpg)
What I like is that Lou doesn’t just deal in the micro-visions of the stories themselves, but he’s able to see the macro-vision for where our field is and how it interacts with the larger cultural moment. That’s what I’m most interested in, as an SF cover artist. That’s what excites me most about the FF1 anthology as a whole. The cover for FF1 was much inspired by Lou’s introduction, which he was formulating at the time. Another thing that really jazzes both of us is looking back at revolutions in SF, such as the Ballantine science fiction line and specifically, the relationship between publishers Ian and Betsy Ballantine and artist Richard Powers. (http://home.earthlink.net/~cjk5/)
The Ballantines built much of their early publishing success on the avant-garde visuals of Powers’ covers that were very anti-establishment (in genre terms), but very much in the cultural moment of modern art at that time (the early 1950s). Those covers challenged the audience, and their perceptions, and refused to accept that SF must be limited to pulp sensibilities of the time. Those covers permanently lifted the field, both artistically and commercially. I respect the hell out of that, and so does Lou. Fast forward to 2008, and I wonder if we’re not ripe for another visual revolution…..anyway — thanks, Joe, for sparking this discussion. I’m enjoying these critiques of FF1. I’ll come back and visit when I can, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s discussion of Empire of Ice Cream down the road.
I’ll add to that that it was those Richard Powers covers that first impressed me as a child, before I was even a reader, that science fiction was something adult, modern, cutting-edge, etc… So when I got older, and I discovered that SF was actually denigrated in some quarters, I was truly flabbergasted. For me, it was always something out there and wondrous, maybe even a little above me, that I needed to rise to the level of, not any thing lowest common demonimator.
Now, on to your comments and quetions:
Joe himself says: “Of all the stories in this collection, Kage Baker’s “Plotters and Shooters” was by far my favorite…”
Kage is marvellous, so I’m not surprised so many people agree. Her “Company” series, at something like 10 books, was just recently completed. It’s about an organization that controls time travel and the schism in same, but seen from the fringes. I can’t recommend her highly enough, so I’ll just say check her out – you won’t be disappointed with anything she does. Meanwhile, I asked her to comment on “Plotters and Shooters” and she says, “A Happy Season Five to Stargate: Atlantis fans! … and thanks for your kind words about ‘Plotters and Shooters’. I have to confess that the story had its genesis a few years back, in a pizza parlor in Emeryville. A few tables away from mine there was an entire college football team, drinking beer, shoving, guffawing and just generally living large. After listening to them awhile I noticed that not one of them seemed to be able to utter a sentence without the words butthole, anus or rectum in it somewhere. It was a remarkable example of what runs through the subconscious of violently hypermale jocks with otherwise limited vocabularies. The Shooters are based on my observations both of those jocks, and also of the sort of kid who posts on gaming forums under names like Soul Crusher and Demon Spawn. Whereas the real psychopath in the story, Charles, feels no need to bully others or bolster his self-confidence with scary black leather. He’s perfectly self-confident and unconcerned with his image. Cheerio, Kage.”
Emily says: I have a friend who can’t stand sci-fi because she “just doesn’t get the point of it. It’s all just made-up stuff.” I tried telling her that that’s the definition of all fiction. It also took me forever to convince her that there was a difference between sci-fi and fantasy. Anyway, I thought the intro did a wonderful job of explaining the draw and relevance of sci-fi. I tried to get her to read it, but she was turned off by the fact that it was more than 2 pages long.
Ah, well there is no helping some people, if two pages is too long. Reminds me of something the great New Wave writer Samuel R Delaney once said, in speaking about the ability to enjoy a piece of prose for the words themselves. “We love a sentence not because of what it means so much as the manner and intensity with which it makes its meaning vivid. People whom the trick tends not to work on include people who are just learning the language and/or who have no literary background in any other language before they start. It tends to include people who know exactly what they’re reading for, and who are not terribly interested in getting any other pleasure from a book except the one they open the first page expecting.”
It’s that last line about people being “not terribly interested in getting any other pleasure from a book except the one they open the first page expecting” that really resonates with me. For some (and I’d say for most SF readers and fans), newness is its own reward – that charge you get from exposure to new ideas, new concepts, the “sensawunder” that science fiction imparts. But if we exist, then the opposite must to – people for whom the new is frightening. I had a good friend in High School who helped me move to Los Angeles, and while I deeply appreciated him making the trek and I do think he enjoyed it, LA really freaked him out. Not in a “I couldn’t live there myself” kind of way, but in a “I am uncomfortable even visiting.” Of course, we were in Venice Beach… But not only did he not want to be there, he didn’t even want to know, even in a sociological or tourist sense… Each to his own. To continue Joe’s food analogy, some folks just want steak and potatoes over and over again and more power to them, but we of broad palates know they are only hurting themselves…
Emily then asks: Do you, personally, like all the stories in the anthology? Which are your faves? How often do you ask an author to write something but then you absolutely hate what they give you? How do you handle that? Just say, “Sorry, we’re not interested in this?” Or do you try to get them to…I don’t know, completely rewrite them? I don’t know if this is an inappropriate question or not, but do the authors get paid per word, page, story, or some other measure?
Now I won’t admit to ever disliking something I ran, but I will say that I have my own favorites, and obviously some stories stand out as the stronger ones in any given book, but I’ve learned across five anthologies now that sometimes what you think as the “weakest” stories surprise you. An editor has only his own tastes to go on, and you shouldn’t second guess that or try and publish something you actively dislike just because you think it’s popular, but a few times in the past – and I won’t even say which book so don’t try and nail down which story I’m talking about – it was the one I thought that was the weakest which got the most positive attention from readers and critics. This has taught me a lot about being “too close” to a story and to trust the material and the writer from the outset, and to allow for a range and breadth that willin turn allow readers who don’t share my exact sensibilities (‘cause who does?) to find their own favorites.
As to pay rates: Authors generally get paid per word, in shamefully small currencies too. Anthologies don’t sell as well as novels, and most novelists who still write in the short form do it for love of the form, for PR purposes (attracting new readers to their novels as some of these stories have done) or to experiment with an idea that the risk and time-investment of writing a novel precludes.
Quite a few people commented on the “creep out factor” of Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Small Offerings,” including anon good nurse who said: I couldn’t read “Small Offerings” more than once; it just hurt too much. That’s a future I want no part in.
Some background: I was at World Fantasy Convention in Madison, WI in 2006 when Gordon Van Gelder, editor/publisher of the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, for whom I have a GREAT deal of respect, came up to me and said, “You need to know Paolo Bacigalupi.” He then dragged me off to meet Paolo, repeating how important it was that I meet him. I had already filled Fast Forward 1, and in fact overbooked it, but I knew to take Gordon at his word, so later that weekend, having not read anything by him, I asked Paolo if he could be in, with a catch. I promised my wife I wouldn’t overspend my advance (this time! I’m bad about it), so I told him he had to constrain himself to 3,000 words. It was a bit of an imposition, but I think he came through brilliantly. I’ve since made it up to him – his contribution to FF2 closes out the book and comes in around 10k. Meanwhile, I’ve since read a good deal of Paolo’s stories, as have a great many people. To date, he’s enjoyed 3 Hugo nominations, 1 Nebula nom, 1 Asimov’s Readers Choice, 1 Sturgeon win and 2 Sturgeon finalists. I think he’s just about one of the most important and most interesting of the new batch of SF writers. He has a collection out later this month from Night Shade called Pump Six and Other Stories, and I recommend it highly. (http://www.nightshadebooks.com/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=18)But I was particularly taken by the comments that “Small Offerings” was scary. Yes, this is the most painful. It may also be the most relevant. Paolo knows what of he speaks. We discussed the horrid ‘what’s happening now’ behind this story and it is utterly heartbreaking. Beyond that – a good friend of my mother is currently dying with ALS, and she has learned that the resort community in which he’s lived the last decade or so has 40 times the national average for the disease. And guess what is in the nearby – chemical plants of course. The US military just declassified all the areas in the ocean where it’s been dumping nerve gas for decades, all these spots in the gulf, just a few miles off… Without even going into global warming, there is so much happening now that needs to be dragged into the light kicking and screaming. (What about that 143 million pounds of beef that was just recalled, most of which was earmarked for the public school system?) And a recent study about the mercury levels in sushi grade tuni – well, I’ll be backing off my favorite food for a while. And mercury in fish isn’t the result of some natural process in the ocean – it’s chemical pollutants dumped in the sea… But these are just my own personal (recent!) observations. I asked Paolo to comment himself. He says, “Small Offerings” was inspired by a scientist named Theo Colborn, (http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1663317_1663323_1669901,00.html) who lives down the street from me. Theo researches endocrine disruptors, aka hormone mimics. These synthetic chemicals are surprisingly ubiquitous. PCBs are found stored in our fat cells. Bisphenyl-a, a chemical that functions like an estrogen, is found in children’s sippy cups. Flame retardants show up in women’s breast milk. The chemicals are everywhere, and they can effect everything from reproductive capacity to intelligence to behavior. If ‘Small Offerings’ disturbed you, trust me, it’s nothing in comparison to a conversation with Theo Colborn.”
Thornyrose asks: What criteria does Mr. Anders use in deciding the order of stories in an anthology?I cast the I-Ching, consult tea leaves and ask my toddler’s advice.
Seriously, though, those of you who were around before CD burners and iTunes will remember the labor intensive, often all-day-long process that making a mixed tape used to be, when you’d get out all your LPs (Google the term, kids), put the headphones on, and have to actually listen to everything you were taping in real time. Any mixer worth his/her salt knew you didn’t put two songs by the same artist side by side, or two of the same kind. How one ended and the next began was all important, and there was always a misfire that you didn’t realize until you were in it to the elbows that you had to erase and record over. It’s like that, very much. I try not to group all my female authors in one spot, not run to “downer” stories side by side, try for variety in word count/length, spread my “name authors” evenly throughout the book, and make sure the types of stories are spread around too. The first and last stories are the most important, and I used the first three to set tone too.
On a related note, let me say that, for me, the real value in an anthology is to get dozens of concepts for the price of one novel, and to discover new writers – Joe’s tapas analogy spot on. That a few of you, Joe included, have followed these new-to-you writers back to their novels is fantastic, and means the book has done its job. Beyond that, my own standard for judging anthos is that if I like upwards of 50% of the stories in them, they were time/money well spent.
Anon, good nurse comments on “The Girl Hero’s Mirror Says He’s Not the One”: For me, touches such as her having to look at her wrist to remember her name, and her simple desire to complete her mission and go home to Chinese take-out with her mom, evoked a great deal of pathos.
Yes, absolutely. I love the way early on we are told she has forgotten her name. Then later, when she is feeling hatred towards her target (but really, anger at having to be forced to confront the truth of her own life), she says, “There should be some word for what she feels when she looks at him, a word not like fuchsia or madder or carmine or rose or sugar or candy. It should be a word for rats turning and scuttling back with red eyes, teeth bared, tails like little ramrods. Maybe the word is Rebecca.” All you need to know about her self-image right there.
This story is midway between Justina’s two poles, I think. She was a hard SF writer, described as a sort of “William Gibson with sex and chocolate” when she discovered fantasy, and launched into her Quantum Gravity series, the first of which Keeping It Real (http://www.pyrsf.com/keepingitreal.html), is about a cyborg woman assigned to bodyguard (and investigate) a half-demon, half-elf rockstar getting death threats for being too flamboyant. I can’t recommend that one enough. But, it being Justina, that description only tells you what it’s about, not what it is. I asked Justina to say hello, btw, and she says, “It’s nice to see such a lively chat about the book going on and I hope people do check out some novels by the authors (not just me) because there’s a lot of good longer stories in circulation too. I was a bit surprised that people could be surprised (as some mentioned) by the idea that SF isn’t ‘just’ entertainment but as you say, that may represent the gulf between readers and casual viewers.”
Anon, good nurse then raises the point: I like the idea of aiming for the stars, but at this point in the world’s history, I also strongly empathize with those who may be thinking, “Let’s set some standards before we start to break even more new ground.” In some cases, technology that many people – average citizens – are barely familiar with, is already being exploited by those who have the resources the rest of us don’t. I believe we have some serious issues to deal with in earnest before taking our explorations to the next level, and I think most of the stories do well at exemplifying why that should be.
I’m not arguing, just fine-tuning. Science fiction, to me, serves four purposes. It can be predictive. and it’s always fun to talk about that, but that’s its least important aspect. More importantly, it can be preventative, as Robert J Sawyer articulates when he points out that, “If accurate prediction were the criterion of good SF, we’d have to say that George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was an abysmal failure because the real year 1984 turned out nothing like his prediction. But in fact Orwell’s novel was a resounding success because its warning call helped us to keep the future it portrayed from becoming reality.” Then beyond that, SF’s importance lies in its ability to actually inspire the future. Technovelgy is a great website that currently lists over 1,400 articles charting when ideas first envisioned in SF become real, and more often than not, the inventors and scientists are very aware of where the ideas came from and were working to them directly. And finally, SF is the literature of the open-mind – the literature that acknowledges change and gets you thinking outside the box – and that in itself is a good thing, even if the science on display is nonsense. (This is SF’s value as allegory.) No one would take Adam Robert’s Land of the Headless seriously as something that could happen, but what it has to say about the criminal justice system is illuminating, relevant and brilliant.
But, as to “reaching for the stars” – do you know how many technologies we use here on earth were developed for space? And there is a company in my old neighborhood right here in Alabama that exists just to book time on the Shuttle for scientists, because so many crystals and chemicals and whatnot perform better in zero-G. I’d say that two of the primary drivers of technology are space research and war, and I’d much rather that the former came to outpace the latter. Just looking at the ecological problems we face in the coming years and think how much terraforming Mars would teach us about healing earth? Not to mention the danger of having all your eggs in one basket. We’re one comet or nuclear war away from extinction! To me, not moving forward is like saying, “You messed up high school so why don’t you skip college too?” Which is not to say we shouldn’t learn from our mistakes, or that we won’t make more…
Anon, good nurse also asks: In general, what are the responsibilities of an anthology editor? Also, are there any significant similarities to editing a book?
To begin with, I want to explain a little bit about how stories make it into an anthology, and what exactly an editor does. Almost any time I tell someone I’m an editor around here (Alabama), I get apologies for bad grammar or an invitation to spell check some work-document, and I have to explain that that is what a copyeditor does, not an editor. (Our copyeditor is the wonderful Deanna Hoak, who is head and shoulders above anyone I’ve ever worked with, and has a marvelous blog here: http://deannahoak.com/) Being an editor is a bit more like being a producer in cinema – another job no one really understands! As the editorial director of Pyr, I’m the buck-stops-here guy for all sorts of things, from reading and choosing manuscripts, to negotiating with agents, to contracting and working with cover artists, to approving layout, writing cover copy, advising publicity and marketing… You are a sort of advocate for your books (your children!) both in and out of house, proclaiming to the world why they should care, but also making sure all the very hard-working, very busy people in your company (only one or two will have read the book) also know that its important and why.
In the case of anthologies, the editor is the guy who comes up with the theme (“More Stories about Vampire Cats!”, “Living on the Moon,” “Winning Words in a Spelling Bee!” etc…) and then invites all the authors, chooses the story and assembles the book (hence the producer analogy). Anthologies can either be reprint collections (usually done to help define a particular slice of the field, like “The Best Time Travel Stories of All Time”) or original ones. I much prefer original anthologies, and I, personally, have a dislike of frivolous themes, so my previous anthologies have all tried to directly address what I saw as particular concerns of the field at the time (or things I thought should be concerns). With Fast Forward 1, I was very deliberately addressing the field itself, and the persistent grumblings that a) short fiction was in jeopardy and b) there wasn’t a high enough percentage of SF in short genre fiction anymore, everything going the way of dark fantasy or “slipstream” (think magical realism for N. Americans). So the Fast Forward series was born as a return to the kind of showcase anthologies that used to dominate the field in the 50s, 60s and 70s. I got in trouble with the subtitle “Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge” – as too many critics thought it meant this was cutting edge science fiction (as compared to the rest of the field), when in fact, I was trying to make an outward focused case that science fiction itself was cutting edge, as compared to the rest of literature. I think (and I think you agree) that I did make that case in the introduction, but the subtitle tripped up too many (even Joe remarked that the Pamela Sargent tale felt like it belonged in an earlier era), so it’s gone with FF2.
Now, anthologies can be done “open reads” or they can be done “invite only.” Open reads is where you publicly post the call for submissions, get deluged with thousands of stories, and chose the best. I’ve never done this for an anthology (though I did for a magazine briefly). As you know, I run the Pyr book line (www.pyrsf.com), and we publish just under 20 books a year, all of which come through Yours Truly, so there is no way I could read all those full length manuscript submissions AND short story submissions too and, well, ever play with my toddler. So I do my anthologies “invite only.” What this means is, at least IMHO, the level of selection is done at the level of the invitation – you are sending the invite only to established pros whose work you consistently admire, and thus, when they write to you (and to your specific theme!), you owe them the courtesy of taking what they give you (especially if the theme is restrictive enough they can’t send it elsewhere). I know not everyone does it this way, and I have passed on one or two stories where what I got back was utterly inappropriate given what I had asked for, but generally, I believe the level of selection is at the invitation stage.
My own agenda with the FF series is to take a very broad, “catholic” view of SF. I want to showcase the full range and breadth of what science fiction can be, with both a respect for its important history as well as, always, an eye on its future – so you will always find the Resnicks and Nivens and such mixed in among the Bacigalupis and McDonalds in one of my books. This also threw a few critics, but not readers – as witness how many of you liked “Solomon’s Choice”! Nor is the old guard all that outdated, as witness how many of you found the Iain Banks-like, post-human space opera of “The Terra Bard” a challenging read. (On that, the story struck me as fitting right alongside of the current work of writers like Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow, yet some of the professional critics called it out as “old school.” Hmmm.)
Amz comments: A few years ago I studied genre theory using speculative fiction as the genre (mainly sci fi and fantasy), and I wish I’d had Anders’ introduction back then. It voiced a lot of ideas which I was beginning to formulate at the time and it was really inspirational to read. I’m tempted to recommend it to a couple of teachers I know who teach sci fi.
Tempted? Just tempted? Email through the contact form on www.louanders.com and I will send you the intro as a word document. And tell them my speaking fees are very reasonable!
Nic said: I adore Mike Resnick. I haven’t been adventurous enough to seek out much more than his anthology, Will the Last Person to Leave the Planet Please Shut Off the Sun?, but hopefully that’ll change in the near future.
Yeah, that’s a good one, but you really need New Dreams for Old, that collects his work of the last decade, most of it award-winning or nominated.
Anon, good nurse commented about “Kath and Quicksilver”: I did enjoy the characterization of the advanced society, and the ending demonstrated that what I might picture as a modified machine was really more human, and humane, than Homo sapiens often is.
Did you pick up on how Kath often did things with her ears or closed her nostrils in ways we humans clearly don’t and can’t? Without ever telling us clearly what she looks like, Brenda and Larry have let us know that these “humans” wouldn’t necessarily appear human by our standards, and I think that is another aspect of the story that works towards what you are picking up on, and the whole notion that Kath is being judged for how compassionately she treats or doesn’t treat other sentients.
Joe himself comments: I also enjoyed Ian McDonald‘s “Sanjeev and Robotwallah” for its refreshingly atypical scifi exploration of another culture. I believe at least one of the author’s novels is set in India.
Yup. His Hugo-nominated River of Gods (http://www.pyrsf.com/riverofgods.html) . He’s also written a slew of other stories in the same milieu, one of which won the Hugo last year. We’re collecting them all in Cyberabad Days in early ’09. Meanwhile, McDonald’s since written another novel, Brasyl (http://www.pyrsf.com/Brasyl.html), which does for South America what these tales do for India, and he’s just back from his second trip to Turkey, researching his forthcoming The Dervish House. Ian is building quite a name for himself by shifting his SF aware from a Western-centric focus. And the man gets to work with Muppets in his day job for Irish telly.
Joe further comments: I believe Bear’s novels are more in the cyberpunk vein (Lou, correct me if I’m wrong), a sub-genre of scifi for which I, alas, have little patience. Does anyone know if she’s written any novels more along the lines of this story (again, Lou?)?
Nope. Bear is all over the map. Her Hammered/Scardown/Worldwired trilogy is cyberpunky in a military SF kind of way, but she also writes a fantasy series entitled The Promethean Age (currently Blood and Iron and Whiskey and Water), and her New Amsterdam is a sort of Victorian, Steampunk, Vampire, female-detective sort of thing. While A Companion to Wolves (with Sarah Monette) is Norse fantasy. And that’s not all she’s got out, just all I feel like typing.
Masterchief says: Lou Anders was on the sets of Babylon 5, DS9 and Voyager? do you really have to ask how cool that is? I’m soooo jealous! *sigh
Yup, five years and 500 articles, written for Star Trek Monthly, Babylon 5 Magazine, Dreamwatch, Doctor Who Magazine, Manga Max, Sci Fi Universe and others. I even ran the short-lived Deep Space Nine poster magazine, which, though only out in the UK, went episode by episode through a season, one at a time, and was all folded out into a piece of wall art. I was freelance for a time, then got hired by Titan Magazines to be their liaison in Los Angeles. I covered Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Babylon 5 (including the telemovies between seasons 4 and 5 and the ill-fated Crusade) and the 1996 Fox/BBC Doctor Who co-production (best forgotten). With Trek, I spent more time in the production offices than the sets (though I was on set a fair amount, including one huge, sprawling 50-page piece of journalism where we followed one episode from pre to post production that is one of the things I’m most proud of), and I got to know folks like Brannon Braga and Ira Steven Behr quite well. With Babylon 5, I was pretty much on set 3 full days a week on average for two years, and got to know everyone, cast and crew. Oh, and when Delenn gives her farewell speech in the penultimate episode (“Objects at Rest”?), well, uh, I’m the guy in the monk’s robe standing right in front of her, and the speech is bound up in all kinds of emotion for me, because it really was a good bye. The crowd she is talking to is most everybody who ever worked on the show.
pg15 wrote: Wow…damn, I wish I had the time and patience to actually read some of these books you guys are having such fun discussing. Unfortunately, I seem to have ADHD or something and I usually have to read the same line over and over again to “get it”. It’s weird and frustrating and results in me taking months to read a single book.
I sympathize. In college I couldn’t read more than a page without having to get up and see who was around. But that writer I quoted at the start of your questions, Samuel R Delany, whose prose is about as lyrical and “Joycean” as any our genre has ever produced – severely dyslexic himself.
Amz comments: I would say short stories are like movies and novels are like tv shows (which, let’s face it, generally have more characterisation etc over the seasons).
Absolutely concur. And television (at least the good stuff) is getting more and more “novelistic” every day. Sadly some novels are getting more like television (the bad stuff).
Amz asks: And my first question for Lou Anders is about the obscurity of some science fiction. I had enough trouble getting a copy of Fast Forward 1, the four major bookstores in Australia that I contacted had none, not in their warehouses or on the shelves. Having said that, some of the authors in the book have been even harder to find in Australia (yep, I look them up as I read along). So with some of the stories, like Justina Robson’s “The Girl Hero’s Mirror Says He’s Not the One”, which follows on from a novel, it’s hard to fully comprehend without reading the novel for some background (at least I’m guessing so). So I’m wondering if you considered this at all, or if you have in previous anthologies.
Well, just like music, films and everything else, novels are contracted for specific territories. So with a lot of the Pyr titles, we only hold the right to distribute them in N. America. (Gollancz, for example, is the publisher of the fabulous Ian McDonald novels in the UK that I mentioned above.) Now, I’m very big on “buy in your territory”, because support for an author’s work in the country he’s in has a very real and immediate effect on his editor in that country’s ability to offer him a contract on his next work! But in the case of Fast Forward 1, which I, uh, sold to myself in house (and was I a bitch to negotiate with!), I was clever enough to talk myself out of giving up World English, so you ought to be able to get it in Australia, though the distance there may be the problem. Try Slow Glass books for other Pyr titles. (http://www.slowglass.com.au/) and tell them I said “hi.”
Wams352 said: My comment? Sci fi fans are TRULY a lot smarter than most people give them credit for! I get so tired of the stereotypical view (that others have) about people who enjoy sci fi! How do I know they’re smarter? Sheesh, look at all these book review comments! How many other fans (say of oh, “American Idol”) could or would fully read an anthology and then write out an intelligent essay on teh subject- when it’s not for classroom credit! (OK now I’ve dissed a popular TV show that I find lame, hopefully haven’t offended any of the brilliant fans of SGA!)
Or bother to know who the writers are on their favorite shows. Or even look at the name on the spine. Yes, I agree. Kim Stanley Robinson calls us “the Cassandra Ghetto” – in that we see the future but aren’t respected for it. But, as he says, being in the ghetto gives you a certain type of freedom, as well as a certain responsibility. To my mind, science fiction is first and foremost entertainment and must be entertainment if it is to function effectively. And some people just can’t see past that, just as some people can’t acknowledge animation as legitimate narrative or cartoons as art. But science fiction will never be just entertainment. It has been, since its inception, a fundamental contributing factor both in how we view our increasingly technological world and in actually dictating the shaping of that technological world, and as the branch of literature devoted to examining humankind’s relationship with technology, it is coming into its own as the most important literature of the 21st century. Which is as good a place as any to end this. I’ll keep coming by to see if there are more comments – aw heck, I’m a dedicated reader of Joe’s blog now, who am I kidding? And those of you who are still waiting on your copy of FF1 or working your way through it, feel free to drop by my own blog and let me know how you find it if you miss this window. The quality of the feedback (as well as the quantity!) is truly wonderful, and a really unique experience I could get addicted to. Given the way this is creating a back and forth as I lay out FF2, I hope you will choose to read and discuss that too if its offered and when its out in October, because, well obviously I’d like to sell the book, but also because I’d like to see if you thought I took the right things from these comments, and, Joe’s indulgence permitting, I’d love to come back and discuss that one with you all as a follow-up to this.But whether you have me back or not – to all of you and to Joe to – thank you very much for this opportunity right here right now. It’s been a blast.
Lou Anders, Editorial Director
Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books