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Summary: Series anthologies (unthemed), 2008 - The Elephant Forgets — LiveJournal
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Summary: Series anthologies (unthemed), 2008


Summary: Series anthologies (unthemed), 2008

2. Series anthologies (unthemed)

One of the really positive developments in 2007 was the appearance of no fewer than four unthemed anthologies, each seemingly aimed at becoming a long running series in the mode of Star or Orbit or New Dimensions or Universe. Three of these series continued in 2008, with one new candidate added. The books:

Fast Forward 2, edited by Lou Anders;
Eclipse Two, edited by Jonathan Strahan;
The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two, edited by George Mann;
The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Ellen Datlow.

Subtotals: 4 books, 60 stories (4 novellas, 21 novelettes, 35 short-stories (1 short-shorts), about 473,000 words.

Stats: 15 1/2 of the stories were by women (26%), a very similar ratio to last years for a similar group of books, and 48 were SF (80%), compared to 61% last year (reflective primarily of an all fantasy book being replaced with a combo book, plus Eclipse having a much stronger SF focus).

Back in the heyday of original anthology series -- that is, the early '70s, when Orbit and New Dimensions and Universe each put out one or more books a year -- one routinely looked to them for Hugo and Nebula front-runners. Not just to them, mind you -- the major magazines have always been central -- but they were major players. And really, that makes sense. The combination of relative prestige, high pay (often -- I'm not entirely sure what this latest crop pay), and an open market -- no themes -- mean that these books often get a look at the best stories available. I think this is again the case.

Among the outstanding stories to appear in unthemed series anthologies this year were: "Catherine Drewe", by Paul Cornell (Fast Forward 2), gonzo steampunkish alternate history, with English spies on Mars and Irish revolutionaries and Russian colonists and bitter political realism; "Exhalation", by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two), which could as well have been called "[Intellectual] Exhilaration", about robots on a completely metallic world, and a crisis involving loss of breathing capacity, and gnosis; "Daltharee", by Jeffrey Ford (Del Rey), a dizzying fantasia of a bottled city, its real inhabitants, and its mad creator; and "The Eyes of God", by Peter Watts (Solaris SF 2), which posits a means of both detecting and fixing mental (perhaps criminal) abnormalities, and asks if the cure is worth the change in identity.

Other first rate pieces included, from The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Maureen McHugh's "Special Economics", Pat Cadigan's "Jimmy", Lavie Tidhar's "Shira", and Margo Lanagan's "The Goosle". From Eclipse Two: Stephen Baxter's "Turing's Apples", Peter S. Beagle's "The Rabbi's Hobby", Daryl Gregory's "The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm", and Karl Schroeder's "Hero". From Fast Forward 2: "True Names", by Cory Doctorow and Benjamin Rosenbaum, "The Gambler", by Paolo Bacigalupi, and "An Eligible Boy", by Ian McDonald. And, from The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two: "Evil Robot Monkey", by Mary Robinette Kowal, "Book, Theatre, and Wheel", by Karl Schroeder, and "Fifty Dinosaurs", by Robert Reed.

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