Eclipse 2 Contents Posted

Jonathan Strahan has posted the contents to his Eclipse 2 volume. He’s also posted a commentary on writing the introduction.

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.)

11 comments on “Eclipse 2 Contents Posted

  1. J. T. Glover says:

    That I was unfair in my expectations for the anthology.

    While I have not read Eclipse and this is not a comment on it, I cannot possibly overstate how disappointed I was on reading Unnamed Anthology X a few years ago and finding that it was overhyped hooie. The advance reviews, jacket copy, and introduction all promised THE GREATEST, MOST FAR-OUT READING EXPERIENCE IN THE GENRE EVER… and it was emphatically, unmistakably not that. Had the anthologist not taken that approach, I wouldn’t have been so bothered. It’s fine to be just plain good, but when one promises “great” or anything vaguely like “best,” one had better be prepared to back it up.

  2. Well, as Jonathan admitted on his blog, a lot of his solicited contributors also bowed out on #1 at the last second. That makes it hard to get the kind of balance you want or the kind of tone.

    But I agree, and it’s possible on BAF we also were guilty of some hyperbole. I still think, though, it’s a killer antho, stuffed full of goodness.

  3. Jonathan Strahan says:

    Because of our conversations, which I value greatly, I’ve given a lot of thought to the importance of creating realistic and accurate reader expectations for a book. There are obviously a lot of things readers respond to – from cover art to blurbs to references in introductions – and you can’t always pick how strongly they’ll react to something. That doesn’t get past the need to try, though. If I were publishing Eclipse Two myself I think I’d go for a strongly SFnal cover, and place it very much in the middle of the genre. That’s very much the way this instalment in the series has turned out.

    As to hyperbole, I sympathise somewhat with J.T’s situation, but again it’s hard. You’re trying to sell a book, and that means the publisher (and you) will do what they can to get readers’ attention, and to tell them why you think they should buy it. I’d also add that, from my perspective, when you finish a book and hand it in, if you’ve done your job properly, you love it. You think it is terrific. And you *should*. Otherwise, why do it? So, if there was some hyperbole in BAF or Steampunk or Eclipse or The Starry Rift it’s because we believe in the books we’ve done. I think it’s forgivable.

  4. J. T. Glover says:

    My pardon, I should have been more clear: I wasn’t including “best-of-the-year” in that. Year end summations are limited to what’s out there in a given year & what the anthologist(s) can read through. I’m talking about… excessive claims. Claims to absolute value. Claims that thrill readers and make the quiet, cynical guy in the corner raise an eyebrow. Claims that mock the gods and demand retribution for their hubris. I’ve hardly read everything you’ve blogged or said in interviews, but somehow I am confident that you have not made the kind of claims I’m talkin’ about.

  5. Oh–I wasn’t thinking you were talking about BAF or anything. We’re just doing BAF2 now and I always try to go back over what we did before and look for ways to improve. I guess I was kind of thinking out loud…in front of thousands. LOL.

  6. Jonathan–your comment came in as spam for some reason. Just caught that and de-spammed it.

    I think you’re right, but it’s always interesting to see how people respond to what you’ve done. Although New Weird has gotten great reviews for the most part, for example, some reviewers presumed to believe that Ann and my motivation for doing the anthology was less than pure. Quite hilarious, considering it’s from an indie press (no money to speak of, given payments to contributors) and that it’s useless to me career-wise (NW for me as a writer is not helpful for sales or anything). I.e., there was no nefarious, cynical reason for doing it.

    One reason I sometimes get exasperated with genre is that while it can be quite a generous community, it is also an inbred and suspicious community.

    Anyway, to get back to the point–there’s no point in doing anything unless you’re excited about it. Life’s too short, and besides, we’ll all be dead from global warming in 30 years so, again…


  7. Blue Tyson says:

    I have seen multiple editors write in their books that using ‘Best’ in the title IS marketing hyperbole, deliberately, because, say, ‘Stories that some bloke whose name starts with J liked the most this year’ doesn’t sell as many books.

  8. Blue Tyson says:

    I didn’t notice any elder god summonings, or spells of compulsion to buy VanderMeer stuff (or anyone else’s) in The New Weird, either. Though it did make me more likely to get your next retrospective, which I did, for the spousal unit. Haven’t seen it since, either!

  9. Hey, BT–thanks for the kind words.

  10. Blue Tyson says:

    Sure. Further, I’d say in The New Weird case, intro made sense, didn’t contradict itself later on, and a reading list for people to find more stuff.

    These are things some books lack – perhaps more keen editors are likely to do these extra bits and pieces? It seems odd to me at least that sometimes blank pages are just sitting there.

    e.g. Mr. Strahan has mentioned I think on his blog he doesn’t find it heaps of fun.

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