Thursday, April 11, 2019

Anatomy of an Anthology-7

The covert art (by Maurizio Manzieri) has been selected! Now on to the next task.
The stories need to be arranged in some type of order. Lots of thought involved here. I’m still thinking about it. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Back in the past, when the anthologies Infinivox published were solely audiobooks, I made a conscious effort to try to alternate stories between male and female narrations. I still tend to do this. I also try not to bunch several stories together with the same settings, themes or tones. Also, special consideration needs to be given to the selection of first and last stories of the collection. The first and last stories in an anthology are the “bookends” of the collection. I believe that these two stories should be the most memorable in the book and leave a lasting impression on the reader. Ideally, after reading the first story, readers will be glad that they picked up the anthology and after reading the last story they will be anxious for next year’s volume. This, of course, is tough to do as not all readers will agree on the most memorable stories in a collection. It’s all the more challenging, and fun, to do this when an anthology, such as The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories, has so many strong stories.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Anatomy of an Anthology-6

I’m excited to announce the table of contents for The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories:

·     “Cold Blue Sky” by J E Bates
·     “Okay, Glory” by Elizabeth Bear
·     “Air Gap” by Eric Cline
·     “When We Were Starless” by Simone Heller
·     “Grace’s Family” by James Patrick Kelly
·     “Meat and Salt and Sparks” by Rich Larson
·     “Quality Time” by Ken Liu
·     “The Blue Fairy’s Manifesto” by Annalee Newitz
·     “Different Seas” by Alastair Reynolds
·     “S’elfie” by Justina Robson
·     “Hard Mary” by Sofia Samatar
·     “The Buried Giant” by Lavie Tidhar

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Anatomy of an Anthology-5

Maurizio Manzieri has sent me five selections of his artwork. They’re wonderful! From these I will choose the cover art for The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories. It’s tough to choose just one.

Maurizio is an amazing artist and wonderful to work with. Among may honors, he’s been the recipient of Asimov’s SF Readers’ Awards for Best 2014 and 2015 Cover. He’s illustrated quite a few covers for lots of publishers in the science fiction field. The cover art for The Year’s Top Hard Science Fiction Stories 2 is Maurizio’s. And it just so happens that it’s been selected for inclusion in this year’s volume (#7) of Infected by Art!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Anatomy of an Anthology-4

So far, so good! It’s looking like I’ll be able to acquire the rights to publish the top twelve stories that I wanted to include in this collection. This will make The Year's Top Robot and AI Stories a very strong anthology. I am pumped! I’m just waiting for one more contract to be returned to me and then the table of contents is all set. In my experience, it’s pretty unusual to be able to acquire the anthology rights to every story I want to include in a book. As the Rolling Stones say, "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Usually this is because the rights to some of the stories are not available. For example, “Troika” by Alastair Reynolds was published in the inaugural issue of The Year’s Top Short SF Novels back in 2011. 





This novella was originally published in 2010 by the Science Fiction Book Club in Godlike Machines, edited by Jonathan Strahan. This spectacular story ends up being the runner up for the 2011 Hugo Award for best novella. Although I don’t know for sure, I suspect other editors wanted to include this story in their “year’s best” anthologies besides me. However, it did not appear in any other “year’s best” anthology except mine. This was because the reprint rights were not available. At the time, The Year’s Top Short SF Novels series was not published in print, only as an audiobook and ebook. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Anatomy of an Anthology-3

This weekend I need to cut my list of twenty stories down to fourteen for The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories. This will allow me to start contacting authors next week about acquiring reprint rights to their stories. This is all done fairly quickly these days by e-mail, text, Facebook, and Twitter. When I first started doing this, way back when, it took much longer as it was all done by snail mail. As such I have wonderful letters from many authors. One of the most memorable letters was from Ursula K. Le Guin. Infinivox published “The Shobies’ Story,”part of her Hainish seriesas part of its Great Science Fiction Stories audiobook series. This was way back when audiobooks were published on cassette tapes. Among other things, she gave me a very detailed pronunciation guide to use for her story. She was very gracious and open to my attempts to get the series up and running even though I was new to the field. To be honest, most authors, now and back then, are also gracious and go out of their way to be helpful. The science fiction field is fortunate to have so many wonderful people in it. It’s a pleasure to work with most authors!



Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Anatomy of an Anthology-2

I’ve got a list of stories that I’m excited about that would make the inaugural volume of The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories an exceptional anthology. Sales of the inaugural volumes of The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction, The Year’s Top Short SF Novelsand The Year’s Top Hard Science Fiction Stories continue to be strong to this day. So the inaugural volume of a series is important as it sets the tone and expectations for the series. No pressure!



I’m shooting for a word count of around 100,000 words for this collection. Word count is an important measuring stick in the anthology publishing business. It is kind of like pounds for a weight lifter or kilowatt hours for an electric utility company.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Anatomy of an Anthology

Happy New Year!
May there be more alternate histories in your future. May you score more space operas. May time travels take you further and may short stories keep you longing for more.
I’ve been putting science fiction collections together for a decade now. My first anthology, mini-Masterpieces of Science Fiction, was published in 2008. It’s only available as an audiobook, as were all my other anthologies until 2010. Starting with the publication of The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 2, ebook editions of my anthologies became available, along with the audiobooks. Three year’s ago, paperback book editions also became available starting with the publication of The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 8To date, I have cobbled together twenty-five anthologies. My most recent title to come out was The Year’s Top Hard Science Fiction Stories 2just before Christmas a few days ago.

I’m starting this log to give the curious a sense of how an anthology comes to be. This is a great time to do this as I’m starting a new series this spring. It’s tentatively entitled The Year’s Top Robot and AI Stories although I sometimes think it should be called The Year’s Top Robot, AI, and Tech Stories. We’ll see.