What Jonathan is talking about when he mentions me is that the introduction to Eclipse 1 primed me to expect something more cutting edge, and something that mixed it up a bit in terms of the authors involved. That’s what I expected from a new original anthology series. What I got, as a reader, was much more traditional. It didn’t strike me on a first read as all that different from reading an issue of Asimov’s or F&SF, to be honest. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it did disappoint me initially because of my expectations.
When going back over all of the anthologies in the field, though, for Best America Fantasy 2, we wound up taking two stories from Eclipse. There’s only one other two-story source (more on that when we officially announce) for BAF2. What does this mean? That I was unfair in my expectations for the anthology.
Volume 2 of Eclipse looks like it’ll be from the center of genre once again, and this time that’s what I’ll take it as. If I want something else, I’ll look elsewhere or I’ll create it myself. But that in no way means I won’t enjoy Eclipse 2 or that I don’t think the line-up he’s put together isn’t impressive.
Jonathan and I have very different ways of looking at fiction sometimes, even if there is a substantial subset of things we can agree on. A good example is his evocation of Merrill in his first Year’s Best SF and Fantasy. What he sees in Merrill’s editing of year’s bests led him to a roster of fairly traditional if good choices, none of them identified as other than genre writers. By contrast, Best American Fantasy also cites Merrill, with our series editor, Matt Cheney pointing out that in the best of Merrill’s best-of, you’d have juxtapositions like Donald Barthelme next to J.G. Ballard next to Fritz Leiber next to Carol Emshwiller next to William S. Burroughs.
While you could argue that YBSFF#1 was too core genre given the reference to Merrill, you could also argue that BAF#1 was too core mainstream, without necessary balance. Together, however, you might just have a more complete view of what happened with (at least) fantasy in 2006.
Jonathan and I, as he’s mentioned, have had several email conversations, and what I enjoy about them is that although we do disagree on several points, it hasn’t ended the dialogue. What I need to be better about is listening to where Jonathan is coming from.
One final note. I always believe in pushing the edge. That has its own dangers. Sometimes you push the edge and you fall off the cliff. That’s the nature of it. But what this kind of approach definitely is NOT is an attack on core genre, which I enjoy very much. But the core needs the edge. The edge needs the core. Neither can be defined or strengthened without the other, especially now, in a time when it’s not clear what the core or the edge will be in five years. In talking to Jonathan, I’m talking to someone who I think understands that. In any event, I’m looking forward to Eclipse 2. (Especially since everyone I know tells me to read Schroeder.)