Sep 15 2008 6:11pm

Poll: Standalone Anthologies or Anthology Series

You wouldn’t know it from the number of times I’ve been posting lately, but I’ve been struggling with what to write. I’ve had an idea for a post about ranking ground-breaking anthologies (’cause who doesn’t like lists?), but I think the topic is too sweeping for one post.

Do I write just about anthologies like Dangerous Visions, Dark Forces, or Trampoline—standalone anthologies with lots of interesting content that came out once, wowed us, and sat as a benchmark for future anthologies?

Or do I write about anthology series like Orbit, New Dimensions, Starlight, Polyphony, Leviathan, and New Worlds Quarterly; anthologies that were series that consistently published new writers and interesting content again and again?

I don’t know that I can fairly compare a standalone anthology to a series. Also, where do I put reprint anthologies like The Year’s Best Science Fiction (particularly the first volume) or The Science Fiction Century or The SFWA Grandmasters Hall of Fame?

So, I need your help. I’ve created a poll to help me decide what tack to take in order to generate a list of the most groundbreaking anthologies. I’m not able to embed javascript into this site, so you’ll have to go here to see the poll. What do you think?

Joe Sherry
1. jsherry
I voted in the poll ("write about both, we're smart"), but I think that series should be included.

Looking at two series which were started in the last couple of years, I can't see how you (anyone) write about anthologies without mentioning Eclipse One or Fast Forward 1, and both will have a Volume Two coming out in the fairly near future. (not to mention a monster...pun halfway Leviathan)

My preference on the reprint anthologies would be to discuss something like the themed anthology (looking at John Joseph Adams with Wastelands and The Living Dead), but not so much the Best Of Any Given Year. I do like Jonathan Strahan's work as an anthologist, even with a reprint best of, but I'm less interested in that discussion. I'll still participate in the discussion, but original anthologies should probably be the focus.
David G. Hartwell
2. David G. Hartwell

Speaking as an anthologist and historian of anthologies and indeed an anthology junkie: the big division is between original and reprint anthologies. In the early decades of SF, the reprint anthologies were generally of high quality and until the 1970s, sold as well or better than the average SF novel, often better. Judy Merril could only sell her first novel if she promised an anthology to go with it, she told me. The original anthology, in the 50s and 60s and even into the 79s, was in competition with the magazines, and to be excellent, had to be better than the best of say, six months of issues of If, or Galaxy, or F&SF, to be superior. And some were. There are now anthologies that are not as good as one issue of Asimovs, or F&SF, but this was not always the case, and is a sad comment on the present state of affairs.
Christopher Davis
3. ckd
My feeling is that themed anthologies should be comprised of reprints, while non-themed anthologies should have original stories. ("Best of" is, of course, a theme.) The series anthologies have definitely done some interesting things.

In terms of specific anthologies I'd want to hear more about, how about the great Full Spectrum series as well as the Jim Baen Destinies/New Destinies "bookazines"?
Blue Tyson
4. BlueTyson
Depends how long you are blogging for :). If they have you for a long time, maybe no need to worry as you will get through it all anyway?

You might have seen this, but may save you some time :-

Major Science Fiction Anthologies - A Brief History
Stephen W
5. Xelgaex
Your poll might have some pollster introduced bias; putting "I get confused" and "we're smart" next to answers could be skewing results. :)
Arachne Jericho
6. arachnejericho
Here, here. I want both in spite of getting confused.

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