The first bazillion times Google Alerts brought me the latest ‘Women in SF Meme‘ link I got cross: so many people who’d never heard of me! (Tiptree award? Old news! Nebula Award? Who cares! Arthur C. Clarke and Locus and BSFA finalist? What does it matter! Premio Italia and six Lambdas? Eh, who cares who what foreigners and queers think!) I’m not complaining–well, not much. It’s my own fault. “It Takes Two” is the first SF I’ve written for fifteen years. Most readers these days don’t know who I am. So when “It Takes Two” was published, none of the anthologies put me on the cover, because no one knows who I am. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: no one knows who I am because they don’t put me on the cover. The perils of not sticking to one genre…
But today, at the latest batch of links, I grinned. So many potential readers who have never heard of me! Now I just have to work out how to, y’know, reach them. But I’m not in a hurry. Slow River and Ammonite (and Bending the Landscape, and With Her Body) aren’t going anywhere. Clearly, though, I need to put together that collection of f/sf stories I’ve been muttering about for ages.
I know, I know, I’m always talking about it and never doing it. I won’t be getting to it immediately this time, either. But it’s going to be my top priority when I’ve finished a first draft of Hild.
So what, in your opinion, is the perfect size/page number for a book-length collection of stories? And do you like Complete Collections, including the slightly weaker pieces, or do you prefer Selected Stories?
Something to muse over on a dark, rainy day. (Yep, still raining. No summer for Seattle. Yet.)
12 thoughts on “Strangely heartwarming”
I vote for the Complete Collection.
And I predict a sunny day tomorrow. :)
I would also vote for complete collection–but then you're bold on my version of the list.
Complete would be easier for me: no thinking :)
If it matters, I would (probably) never have heard of you, or read anything by you, if you'd stuck to Science Fiction. When Hild comes out, you'll probably have a lot of people who read that then work their way backward through your “catalog.”
What I'd really like is for one publisher to licence all my previously published work and repackage everything as by me, not as 'sf' or 'noir' or whatever. Just fiction. That's how I think of it.
I think the world is heading that way, given meta-tagging of inventory online taking over the sorting from what category the object is shelved under in the store.
So that'smy dream.
I have an almost ridiculous love of SLOW RIVER, and think the Aud novels are wonderful. As to a collection, I'd always go with a 'best of'. A collection is an ambassador for you and your work, a sampler that shows some of what you can do and how well. It should be terrific! I can't wait.
I'm a completist. I would love to buy and read THE COMPLETE STORIES OF NICOLA GRIFFITH, but then you'd do to me what Richard Matheson has: you'd continue writing stories and essays and what-have-you and publishing them in a hundred places where I wouldn't know to look, and what I'd have is your COMPLETE STORIES, VOLUME ONE. Perhaps you could just publish THE STORIES OF NICOLA GRIFFITH: 1975-2010. I'd love for you to organize them chronologically within genre, so I can watch your growth as a writer. It's all right if your early stories are weak. Try reading the complete short fiction of Theodore Sturgeon (in 13 volumes) someday; you have to bite your tongue for two or three volumes while he learns how to write.
By the way: THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES: 1949 edited by E. F. Bleiler & T. E. Dikty (1949; $2.95) contains 12 stories and is 314 pages long. BRADBURY STORIES: 100 OF HIS MOST CELEBRATED TALES by Ray Bradbury (2003; $29.95) is 893 pages long. In neither book are the stories presented chronologically by publication date or alphabetically by title (or author). I like a book with some heft to it. A major collection or anthology should be at least 300 pages long. If it's three times that length, it had better contain some fireworks. And perhaps you're right: the stories needn't be organized by genre. That's one reader's opinion.
I just don't have that many published stories–because I haven't written many. A dozen, perhaps. With two or three others just itching to be born. But mostly I think in novel-length chunks.
Perhaps I could release The Complete Works in slim volumes, about 150 pp each, or I could include essays, or…
The choices appear infinte.
Perhaps Bradbury is not the best comparator, but he has a long history of publishing collections with a hand-picked set of stories in them. His 2009 collection MARIONETTES, INC. ($35.00, 118 pages) contains only six stories, two of them previously unpublished. His 2009 collection WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS: STORIES ($24.99, 210 pages) contains 22 previously unpublished short pieces (the last a poem) of all sorts that have one thing in common: they were written on the spur of the moment after the author had an intense experience.
As you say, the choices appear infinite. Still, you have readers who would like to see as much of your short work as possible in as accessible a form as you can provide for us. We can wait, because we know it's worth waiting for.
If you have a choice between heeding the informed advice of Jonathan Strahan, editor of volumes containing the best stories of Bruce Sterling, Peter S. Beagle, and Fritz Leiber (among many other fine books), and weighing the idiosyncratic ramblings of someone who has read far too much Bradbury (and other authors dating back to the births of AMAZING STORIES, WEIRD TALES, and beyond, both genre and mainstream), you should probably heed Strahan. I can see 19 books he's edited without rising from my desk, so his opinions are those of a successful professional. Mine are merely those of an eclectic reader old enough to remember when “sci fi” was a blatant insult.
With POD and ebook technology, I can do 12 different versions if I want, with different foci, different page counts, different price points, different covers.
Now that sounds like fun to plan…
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