Since it began in 2008, Tor.com has explored countless new worlds of fiction, delving into possible and impossible futures, alternate and intriguing pasts, and realms of fantasy previously unexplored. Its hundreds of remarkable stories span from science fiction to fantasy to horror, and everything in between. Now Tor.com is making some of those worlds available for the first time in print.
Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction collects some of the best short stories Tor.com has to offer, with Hugo and Nebula Award-winning short stories and novelettes chosen from all ten years of the program. Read the preface to the anthology below from editor Irene Gallo.
Tor.com celebrated its tenth anniversary on July 20, 2018—the forty-ninth anniversary of the first manned moon landing. It started out innocently enough. In 2006, our publisher, Fritz Foy, while attending the Tor Books holiday party, pulled Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden and me aside and said he wanted to create a “river of conversation, art, and fiction” within the SF/F community—an online magazine that crossed the borders between publishers and media.
It took us a couple years to get off the ground. During that time, whenever we felt lost in the process, we’d come back to the word “genuine.” We wanted to build a place that treated science fiction and fantasy (and related subjects) with gravitas and humor, a place to have fun without shying away from weightier, more thoughtful subjects. In short, we wanted to build a place where we wanted to hang out. The ten years since the launch feel like a day, and like a million years. So much has changed, but the essence remains the same—we’re still talking about the things we love. Through all the hashtags and trending topics, we still find the key to success is focusing on good, solid content.
We’ve published short fiction from day one. We knew from the start that fiction was always going to be at the heart of Tor.com. As publishers it made sense, but also… the entire site is dedicated to storytelling. Of course we wanted fiction to be our focal point. We have since published hundreds of original stories, along with art, reprints, comics, and poems—all of which are a source of pride for us, as well as bringing enjoyment to our readers.
Within these covers you’ll find a selection of those stories. There are established authors, sure to be read for decades, alongside newer writers working hard to make their mark on the field. Some of these stories are award nominees and winners. Most of all, they are stories in which to see ourselves reflected with grace and humor and, at times, with terror. They reach deep inside us as they stretch for the stars and are as intrinsically human as they are impossible.
With my art background, I’m much more comfortable calling myself a curator than an editor—especially when all of these stories were initially acquired by a dream team of editorial talent. The consistent quality of the stories that come into my email inbox each month is slightly less mind-boggling when I remember that they are coming from Ellen Datlow, Ann VanderMeer, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Liz Gorinsky, and a select group of others. As publishers, we gave these editors free rein, and they ran with it. What you see is their taste and vision in as pure a form as we can offer.
Putting this anthology together was a heartbreaking enterprise in many ways. As much as I enjoy revisiting the stories collected here, I feel as if I am leaving old friends behind when it comes to the ones that couldn’t fit in this volume. If you like these stories, I really do hope that you might make your way over to the website and explore others. There was so much that had to be left out. Some of my favorites were just too long to include—Mary Rickert’s short novel The Mothers of Voorhisville and Veronica Schanoes’s stunning novella Burning Girls, to name just two. John Scalzi’s hilarious April Fools’ Day offering, an “excerpt” from The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, would be out of context here, but, I assure you, is well worth your time. And please check out Wesley Allsbrook and Barrie Potter’s amazing short comic To Eternity.
We’ve also commissioned poetry and flash fiction over the years, wonderful pieces that deserve all the attention they can get. There are so many worlds and voices to discover.
While we are on the subject of what is not here, I want to express a special thanks to all the artists who have contributed to the website throughout the years. They have played a big part in making Tor.com a premier outlet for short fiction. Their contribution is incalculable. This anthology wasn’t the place to showcase their illustrations, but look them up: The work is glorious and every bit as affecting as the stories themselves.
It takes a rocket to run a website. Literally countless people are involved when you include the readers, our most important collaborators. I do hope you take a look at the acknowledgments and see for yourself how many people have helped, in so many ways, to bring these stories to you today.
We decided to launch on Moon Landing Day for its obvious inspiration and appeal to us as science fiction fans. Having reached the moon, we continue to explore. We still touch the stars and use that perspective to reflect and measure ourselves. With infinite curiosity, I hope you enjoy the stories that these forty authors have crafted. And I hope you enjoy them enough to keep coming back to Tor.com for decades to come.