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Monday, July 09, 2012

Musing On An Anthology - Thoughts from The Editors

This post was going to appear tomorrow, but I will be out all day with two little girls, my niece Amelia and her cousin Dezzy, and I'd like to know the post will be up before I leave.

When I invited guest posts, I started with the editors, Edwina Harvey and Simon Petrie, who really have a lot to be proud of in the work they have done for this. I cut up Simon's comments into individual pieces to go with the author guest posts, and Edwina added her thoughts. Below you will find what he said about those stories whose authors didn't have time to contribute posts here, as well as his overall thoughts. I may just be able to add a short piece by Edwina to go with the announcement of the winner of the giveaway on Wednesday. (So far, I have more entries on Goodreads than the blog, and these will go into the draw.)

Enjoy, guys! 

Simon Says...

Dave Luckettt’s ‘History: Theory and Practice’ is one of those stories that makes much more sense on the second read-through than the first. It’s entirely true to itself, utterly misleading, and I found it thoroughly enjoyable.

Katherine’ Cummings's ‘The Travelling Salesman and the Farmer’s Daughter’ plays it significantly straighter than any of the stories that precede it—which is not to imply that it’s lacking in complexity. But what appealed to me about it was its classic clarity, its faithful reworking of the tropes and dilemmas of golden-age SF.

Like just about anything else in one of Anna Tambour’s stories, the ‘murder’ in ‘Murder at the Tip’ is not what you’d expect. Anna’s story is ... well, ‘unusual’ seems kinda inadequate in the circumstances. Its two halves, connected by the slenderest of narrative threads, careen in sharply divergent directions, and seem to bear little relation to each other. And yet there is a commonality between them, of a sort. Plus, of course, Anna’s writing is always word-perfect.

‘The Subjunctive Case’ is the book’s longest story, by the newest author in the bunch. And SF and crime aren’t the easiest genres to merge seamlessly. But Robert Porteous rises to the challenge admirably, with a surprisingly topical mixture of hardboiled pulp detective fiction and near-future extrapolation. It helps, too, that the murder is ingenious, well-executed, and purposeful.

Sean McMullen’s ‘Hard Cases’ is, I hope, science fiction. I’d much prefer to think of it that way, rather than a glimpse into a world we’re currently only a hair’s-breadth distance from. And the naming convention Sean’s adopted here gives this story an entirely inappropriate sense of levity, which only serves to twist the scalpel further.


 I’m not sure that editing an anthology is supposed to be ‘fun’, but this was. Any differences of opinion between Edwina and myself were minor, and quickly worked through. And the stories that made it into the anthology didn’t require a lot by way of reworking—we had very good material to work with in the first place, and a bunch of authors with unfailingly professional attitudes to their craft. There are stories in here—and I’m hoping here that readers would agree—without which the speculative fiction community would be significantly poorer, and that, for me, justifies the anthology’s existence entirely.

Would I do it again, were there a prospect of Light Touch Paper 2? Hell, yes. In a flash.

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