I have notes going back ten years, to some time in 1997, for a book to be called The New Space Opera. It was going to be completely different than it turned out to be, and my dear friend Simon Brown was originally going to co-edit, but today it all came to fruition. I went to the post office box on the way home from work and there were two bright, sparkling copies of the Australian edition of The New Space Opera. I literally could not be happier. It’s been a real trip working with Gardner, all of the authors, Stephanie in Australia, Diana in the US, Marianne (who proofed it beautifully), and literally everyone else. A big shout out to Stephan Martiniere for the cover, and to the folk at Harper for such great design. I’m pleased as punch! It should be in the shops in three weeks or so. I hope you all like it as much as I do!
I’m reading, reading, reading at the moment. Because of some terrible psychological scarring that even I can’t quite explain, I can’t seem to bring myself to pick up a magazine, a collection, or an anthology and read it cover-to-cover, so I dip in here, try something there, taste just a little bit of this or that. This morning I sampled Ellen Datlow’s guest-edited issue of Subterranean Magazine and John Klima’s Logorrhea, and would happily recommend both to you.
The story that I read in Subterranean is a dark, horrible little piece by Terry Bisson called “Pirates of the Somali Coast”. It’s told as a series of emails written by a young boy on a cruise ship to his mother and best friend, and circles around the idea of being divorced from the reality around you. I’m not sure if it’s good – the whole epistolary thing usually troubles me – but it’s disturbing and I think will stay with me all through the year. I then read Tim Pratt’s “From Around Here” in Logorrhea. It tells of a traveller who visits an Oakland neighbourhood and tries to unravel the reason for the dark shadow that hangs over the area. There’s a lot to like in this story: Pratt captures the neighbourhood perfectly, gets the characters just right, and all in all delivers what is probably his most successful story to date. It may be because I lived in Oakland, which made the story resonate even more for me, but I liked “From Around Here” even more than his ‘video store of dreams’ tale, “Impossible Dreams“, from Asimov’s last year which I also really enjoyed. It’s a very strong tale, and is definitely on the shortlist for my year’s best this year.