This July, Vintage will release our The Big Book of Science Fiction–about 800,000 words covering roughly the twentieth century. With more than 105 stories from 29 countries, it’s the most wide-ranging and largest single-volume collection of twenty-century science-fiction stories ever published. You can read some of my prior blog posts about the research at this link.
Entertainment Weekly did a cover reveal along with a piece we wrote giving an inside look at editing the anthology.
Just this weekend, Io9 did a reveal of the table of contents, which includes Borges, Bradbury, Le Guin, Butler, Vonnegut, Dick, St. Clair, Lisa Tuttle, Tanith Lee, Stanislaw Lem, Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, and…well, check out the link.
But just to break down that TOC a little bit more…
–We chose the twentieth century rather than up to the present day to give ourselves the distance to properly evaluate the fiction and also to allow ourselves enough room to include what needed to be included, given we wanted to explore science fiction from all over the world. (We don’t feel a twenty-first century reprint SF anthology with truly blanket coverage has yet been published, but The Mammoth Book of Science Fiction Stories by Women is an excellent resource for readers looking for a rich overview of the past 15 years or so.)
–We’re proud to have a major novella by Liu Cixin in the anthology–one not widely familiar to SF readers in the West–and also stories by writers like Kojo Laing and Alfred Jarry who may not be thought of in terms of SF but have definitely made fascinating and unique contributions to the genre.
–We’re proud that the estate of David R. Bunch allowed us to reprint three of his infamous Moderan stories–the first time in two decades that has occurred.
–James White’s “Sector General” galactic hospital stories have been underrated for a long time. We’ve included one of his longest and best in our anthology.
–Our anthology features approximately 40 translations out of 100-plus stories, from more than 20 countries.
–The following stories have never appeared in English before now–and Barberi and Zozulya are authors who have never appeared in English before–ever. Ocampo is a major Argentine writer who had previously not been thought to write science fiction, but her story from the 1950s is a very good one indeed!
Jacques Barbéri, “Mondo Cane” 1983 (France) – trans by Brian Evenson
Angélica Gorodischer, “The Unmistakable Smell of Wood Violets” 1973 (Argentina) – trans by Marian Womack
Han Song, “Two Small Birds” 1988 (China) – trans by John Chu
Silvina Ocampo, “The Waves” 1959 (Argentina) – trans by Marian Womack
Paul Scheerbart, “The New Overworld” 1911 (Germany) – trans by Daniel Ableev and Sarah Kaseem
Karl Hans Strobl, “The Triumph of Mechanics” 1907 (Germany) – trans by Gio Clairval
Yefim Zozulya, “The Doom of Principal City” 1918 (Russian) – trans by Vlad Zhenevsky
–We also commissioned re-translations, usually in cases where an existing translation was more than 25-30 years old or where we thought the existing translation had some flaws. These are those new re-translations:
Juan José Arreola, “Baby H.P.” 1952 (Mexico) – trans by Larry Nolen
Dmitri Bilenkin, “Crossing of the Paths” 1984 (Russia)– trans by James Womack
Adolfo Bioy Casares, “The Squid Chooses Its Own Ink” 1962 (Argentina) – trans by Marian Womack
Sever Gansovsky, “Day of Wrath” 1964 (Ukraine) – trans by James Womack
Alfred Jarry, “The Elements of Pataphysics” 1911 (France)– trans by by Gio Clairval
Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, “The Visitors” 1958 (Russia) – trans by James Womack
Miguel de Unamuno, “Mechanopolis” 1913 (Spain) – trans by Marian Womack
Valentina Zhuravlyova, “The Astronaut” 1960 (Russia) – trans by James Womack
–Stories by Robert Heinlein, Van Vogt, and Bob Shaw were not available to reprint as the respective estates do not provide permissions at this time.
–Far-future SF “indistinguishable from magic” (like Jack Vance) we have decided to consider for a future Big Book of Fantasy. Time travel stories were largely covered by our Time Traveler’s Almanac. Steampunk stories seemed more fantastical than SFnal and also have been covered in our three Steampunk volumes.
–We had the opportunity to acquire what you might call fairly complete “through-lines” of some Latin American and Russian/Ukrainian SF. Other lines of inquiry yielded less information, and not every country or literary tradition has a wide science-fiction component. That said, we know we could have included much more French SF, for example, and areas of emphasis to devote very robust resources to for our next antho, a Big Book of Fantasy, include not just much more from France but increased focus on countries in Southeast Asia and India, up to the present day.
The 11,000-word introduction to the anthology and the 50,000 words of author/story notes provide additional context and information. We’re very proud that the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction allowed us to use some material from their site in the creation of the author bios.