Yes, that letter. The letter from Elizabeth Bear. The one published in ClarkesWorld Issue 68 (May 2012). Her open letter to Science Fiction.
After reading her letter, we could have applauded like many others and blithely wandered off with our hands in our pockets. Instead, we decided to do something. This is the result – a new anthology that is fun to read and embodies many of the elements found in classic, Grand Tradition science fiction. In short, we decided put our money where our heart is.
So what is Grand Tradition science fiction? I am not going to give you the Wikipedia answer, I am giving my answer. Your mileage may vary.
Grand Tradition stories were full of ideas, optimism, inspiration and respect for science. Grand Tradition SF showed us that science was cool. Like many others, I chose a career in science because it was the most exciting thing in my universe. The wonder of discovery; the satisfaction that comes from building new things; and the knowledge that you can make a difference through intellect (or cleverness), hard work and perseverance, are heady of experiences. There are no magic wands, fairy godpeople, or Miracle Max inventions. Grand Tradition stories inspired many of our current technologies and it continues help scientists understand how these technologies might interact with the real world.
Grand Tradition stories were fun to read. In her open letter to SF, Elizabeth Bear asks why “[SF seems] to think that nothing fun can have value.” I obviously agree with her sentiments. I am sorry to say that a derisive public wrote off Grand Tradition SF as mere escapism - as if escapism was something unsavory. This escapist “drek” taught me about Dyson Spheres, red-shift, general relativity, and put entire cultures and belief systems under the intellectual microscope. Not too bad for escapist literature.
Grand Tradition Stories embodied a sense of adventure and expectation. I realize that adventure is a relative term. One man’s adventure may be a normal day to another. Communicating this sense of adventure is the important thing. Readers of Grand Tradition stories have a gleeful expectation that interesting things are about to happen; that “normal” events will not remain that way for long.
And finally, the best Grand Tradition stories had a strong human element. Great SF is not just about gizmos and spaceships, it’s about us and how we are shaped by, and relate to our environment. Human elements are the Velcro that make stories stick in our brain. They make them enjoyable, approachable, and memorable.
The stories in this volume embody one or more of these elements.
The Far Orbit anthology is truly a labor of love but no matter how much I express my ardor, it’s all about the stories. We endeavored to provide a broad mix of SF stories by established, award-wining authors and newly emerging authors. Their stories embody a variety of SF motifs including those from 1940s pulp-fiction, realistic hard SF, noir fiction, spaceship fiction, alien encounters, and action-adventure. The range of subjects is astonishing and includes slimy alien babysitters, an angry sentient bear, walking plants, alien bunnies, and a barbecue. If that is not enough to pique your interest, the anthology also features a cello-playing assassin, high-stakes poker emancipation, space ship crashes/rescues, an alien artifact, and fights with space pirates. We hope every SF fan can find a favorite within these pages.
So here it is, our latest creation. We obviously want the Far Orbit anthology to be successful for financial reasons but just as importantly, we know a successful approach will be emulated by more conservative publishers. The net result could be a future where there is a wider variety of Grand Tradition story choices and story markets – good things in my estimation.
This anthology isn’t just about us and our desires; it’s also about you, the new SF reader, the SF fan, the aspiring (or established) writer. Let me know what you think of this anthology and where we should go from here. I will be “listening” at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthologist, Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures
Musings on NASA’s Asteroid Retrieval Project and Sam Kepfield’s “Open for Business”
Bear Essentials by Julie Frost
Composition in Death Minor by K.G. Jewell
Spaceman Barbecue by Peter Wood
Far Orbit Interview on SciFi4Me.com
Great News from Sporadic Reviews!
Guest Blog on Fantasy Café (they wanted to hear about Grand Tradition SciFi
Good Choice Reading Interviews Far Orbit Authors Tracy Canfield, Jacob Drud, and Kat Otis
My intro for the Far Orbit Anthology
Inspiration… perspiration… exhilaration…