I have a new story, “It Takes Two,” due out in October. (Do you know how long it’s been since I wrote a new story?) It will appear in Eclipse 3, Jonathan Strahan’s latest anthology. It looks like a strong lineup:
* The Pelican Bar, Karen Joy Fowler
* Lotion, Ellen Klages
* Don’t Mention Madagascar, Pat Cadigan
* On the Road, Nnedi Okorafor
* Swell, Elizabeth Bear
* Useless Things, Maureen F. McHugh
* The Coral Heart, Jeffrey Ford
* It Takes Two, Nicola Griffith
* Sleight of Hand, Peter S. Beagle
* The Pretender’s Tourney, Daniel Abraham
* Yes We Have No Bananas, Paul Di Filippo
* Mesopotamian Fire, Jane Yolen & Adam Stemple
* The Visited Man, Molly Gloss
* Galápagos, Caitlín R. Kiernan
* Dolce Domum, Ellen Kushner
Apparently the publisher (Night Shade) is still futzing with the cover text, but you can see the illustration and preliminary design at Jonathan’s blog, Acme School of Welding.
Those of you who are involved in the wider SF community may recall controversy over previous Eclipse anthologies (lots of conversation–some polite, some not–on race and gender parity). It’ll be interesting to how people respond to this Table of Contents.
My guess is that “It Takes Two” is the longest piece in the book. That’s just a guess based on two related data points. First, the story is way over Jonathan’s preferred length. (It clocks in at nearly 12,000 words–officially a novelette.) Jonathan was kind enough to buy it anyway. Second, I think the most sensible place in an anthology for the longest story is the middle.
Please note the operative phrase, I think. Every anthology and every anthologist is different. But when I was putting together the various Bending the Landscape volumes (and now, as I ponder my own collection) I found that I tended to begin the lineup with the biggest stories in the middle. It’s a balance issue. If you’re in a small boat, you put the heaviest piece of cargo in the middle. If you’re walking a tightrope, you keep your mass centred over the cable. But mileage seriously varies.
Building an anthology or story collection is a fascinating exercise. You have to start with something that not only embodies your vision for the book but is brilliant and grabby–something that arrests a browsing reader; Karen Joy Fowler strikes me as an excellent choice. Then you must build and build, and end with something that not only fulfills the premise of the whole book but provides a bravura flick of the wrist, a sting in the tail: emotionally satisfying but intellectually provocative. Ellen Kushner is very, very good at this.
So, it’s looking good. I can’t wait to read it.