Okay, so many science fiction readers are busy people and don’t have time for a Peter Hamilton tome or a Patrick Rothfuss compendium, but prefer to get their science fiction satisfaction a gulp at a time.
What to do? What to do?
How about a well thought out anthology?
Now, I’m not usually an expert in this field and there are many anthologies out there. I’m the doorstop novel kind of reader. However, I wanted to cover this topic and present three varieties of anthologies, with the caveat that there are many others out there.
But here’s three.
I received this as a Christmas present in December 1998 and it blew away my mind. If you want an anthology organized around the heavy weights in the field, then here are eleven stories by world famous science fiction/fantasy writers. The list starts with Stephen King and includes Anne McCaffrey, Robert Jordan, Raymond Feist, Orson Scott Card, George R.R. Martin, Ursula Le Guin, Terry Pratchett, Tad Williams…with illustrations by Michael Whalen. Need I say more? Although published over fourteen years ago, the stories are still timely. And subsequent Legend volumes have come out since.
2. Legacy of Stars by Danielle Ackley-McPhail Maybe you just want some science fiction military stories with a kick-ass heroine. Enter Katrion Alexander who never does what is expected. With forwards by such notables as John G. Hemry a.k.a Jack Campbell (Lost Fleet Series), Jack McDevitt, Bud Sparhawk and others. This collection of stories focuses on Private Katrion Alexander and hard science military. In fact, the first story in the anthology, (but not the novel) is entitled “Carbon Copy” and has quite a nice twist to it that would please any hard science/military scifi reader. Interspersed between Katrion’s adventures in the Alliance Universe, are other military science short stories that will have you turning the pages just as rapidly. Several thought provoking poems break up the action between stories, and all in all, provide the military scifi reader with a well balanced read. A hidden gem.
3. Space Magic by David Levine. Sometimes you are a short story superstar like David. You have won a Hugo for “Tk’ Tk’ Tk’, published over forty short stories, many award winners, and now it’s time to wrap them all together and put out your own anthology. Anthologies can be a way to develop a platform for further work.
Linton Robinson of LinkedIn blogging notoriety has an excellent blog on this idea and I encourage you to read what he says in the link below. He has started a thread on LinkedIn for authors interested in writing for anthologies and anthology editors looking for submissions. Check that out too.
Now, I’m lucky enough to know David, so I asked if he would subject himself to an interview by me and he graciously obliged.
David’s stories plumb the depth of character, both alien and human and sometimes the interactions between them. Start with a story that takes place in the mind of a starfaring alien, visit a very unusual junkyard and check out “I Hold my Father’s Paws” that introduces, not transgender, but transpecies medicine. Walk with a salesman trying to sell on an alien world and meet a fairy like no fairy you have ever met before. His stories are different, fresh and provocative.
So here now without further ado, is David Levine.
Sheron: It seems to me that I ‘m seeing more and more science fiction anthologies coming onto the market. Do you agree, and why do you think that is?
David: If you’re seeing more SF anthologies — and this is not a phenomenon I’ve observed — it’s probably because the market for SF short stories is in transition. Although science fiction and fantasy is one of the few places in literature today where you can still get paid for a short story, and the main print markets (Asimov’s, Analog, and F&SF) are still going strong, a lot of the other markets that were out there five or ten years ago have vanished and many new ones have appeared. With all the changes in this area, it’s not surprising that a lot of writers and editors have decided to release their short stories in anthology form.
Sheron: You’ve had an interesting and successful writing career, writing over 40 short stories, writing for George R. R. Martin in his Wild Cards series, handing out the Hugo for short stories in 2012 and even winning a Hugo in 2006 for “Tk’ Tk’ Tk'” yourself. What would you say was one of your best moments as an author? And what would you say to encourage other writers in this genre?
David: Winning the Hugo was an awesome, overwhelming career highlight (you can see my overwhelmed response here: http://youtu.be/q7cnM3ra79o Selling my first story (“Written on the Wind”, to Beyond the Last Star) and my first acceptance at a major magazine (“The Tale of the Golden Eagle” at F&SF) were also fabulous moments, and getting a good review is always a thrill. These moments are really brief, and it’s important to keep them in the back of your mind and haul them out whenever the writing feels like a pointless slog.
Sheron: I hear you there. We always need those moments to keep us going forward. Where do you get your inspiration? Or what got you started on this career path?
David: I’ve been writing SF stories since I could hold a pencil. I still have a two-volume SF novel I wrote in fourth grade (it was two volumes because I filled up the first spiral notebook) and a disturbing little book called “The Boy Who Could Fly” that’s considerably older than that. But, although I took an SF writing class in college and was encouraged to submit my work, I got into technical writing as a career and that consumed all my writing energy. I didn’t write a lick of fiction for about 15 years, during which time I met my wife Kate, so that when I declared in 1999 that I wanted to spend my Intel sabbatical at Clarion it was a surprise to her. But I did go, and I learned a lot, and I started selling shortly thereafter. I’ve been selling 3-5 original stories each year since then, plus reprints.
David: People have been asking me for several years now whether Space Magic was available as an ebook, and I think it was in 2010 that I took some of the stories off of Fictionwise (which required exclusive rights) so that I could produce an ebook of my own. But there were a lot of options — should I do the work myself, or pay someone to do it, or send it to an e-publisher? — and I waffled for years. Then, back in October, I had a really bad day. I got four novel-related rejections in a period of three days. (Despite my success with short stories, I’ve been trying and failing to sell a novel since 2006.) I got depressed, and then I got angry, and then I decided to channel the energy of that anger into areas I could control. I started up three major projects that week: my new website (daviddlevine.com, which went live in December and looks fabulous), the Space Magic ebook (which launched on January 15), and a video of my story “Letter to the Editor” (which goes public on January 21). Now that all of those are out of the way I hope to be focusing my efforts on another novel. Hope springs eternal.
Sheron: Rejection in all kinds of forms seems to be part of this business. It’s those that listen to the ideas, incorporate the helpful comments to make their work stronger and keep on trying that eventually become successful. If you’re looking for constant accolades, take up another career. Kudos to you as Space Magic is the result.
So, what’s next?
David: I’m working on a YA Regency Interplanetary Airship Adventure, which takes place in an alternate English Regency that includes airship travel to Mars and Venus (which are, of course, inhabited). Arabella is a Patrick O’Brian girl in a Jane Austen world. Born and raised on Mars, she was hauled back home by her mother, who didn’t want her two younger sisters turning out as wild as Arabella had. She finds England’s gravity, climate, and expectations of women stifling, and when she learns that her cousin Simon plans to kill her brother, still on Mars, and take control of the family fortune, she disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of a Mars-bound merchant ship in order to save him. But pirates, mutiny, and rebellion stand in her way. Will she arrive in time?
Sheron Sounds terrific. I look forward to publication. Thank you David.