Eclipse Two – in print!!

Eclpse TwoI got home from the office today to find a large box full of copies of Eclipse Two, fresh from the printer, waiting for me.  This book has been such mixed experience to work on over the past year, that I was surprised at how pleased I was to finally hold it in my hands.

I finished Eclipse One in June of 2007 and pretty much immediately jumped into working on the follow-up volume.  I had several long discussions with Jason Williams about where the second book should go and, as I’ve discussed here before, decided to make this new book very much a ‘science fiction’ anthology.  That affected who I invited, but I was, as I always am, surprised and humbled by the array of talented and generous people who agreed to write for the book.  I then sat back to wait and see what stories would come.

And they did come: first one, then another.  Slowly at first, then more quickly.  At the same time. there was an open reading period where more than 400 stories came in during February.  It was a mixed success, but if nothing else had me reading a number of writers I’d not experienced before.  As is always the case, as time went on and the June deadline approached, some writers dropped out, and others came on board.  I don’t remember which story first really impressed me, and I hate to mention favorites, but the book had really come together by the beginning of June and had developed its own character.

On June 16 I delivered the book to Night Shade, about a week late.  I posted the table of contents and the book sort of exploded before my very eyes, or at least it felt that way.  There was a long passionate debate, which regular readers would be well aware of, that centered around gender equity in the book. I have nothing more to say on the subject, other than to say it very strongly soured me on the book. I was eager to get it done, get it published and move on.

Time then did what it does, and passed.  I was waiting for a clearance on one story – a very good alternate history/time travel tale by Harry Turtledove.  Harry was wonderful to deal with, but copyright clearances are long and complicated things, and sadly we couldn’t find a way to run the story in the book (hopefully it’ll appear elsewhere before too long).  I posted something to that effect here in late August, and suddenly Ted Chiang and Margo Lanagan appeared with the final two stories for the book. Last minute additions, they changed the tenor of the book, and really began to make me feel a lot more positively about it.

With the final version of Eclipse Two done, we raced through copyedits and other things, saw the cover design and waited for the book.  Sadly, for reasons beyond my control, the book didn’t make it for its intended World Fantasy launch date (I think it would have been the toast of the convention), but advance reviews began to trickle through and they were extremely positive.   It also became clear that several stories were going to make year’s bests and hopefully might make awards listing.

But, until today, no book.   I’d honestly wondered if it would come out in 2008, but it has.  Eclipse Two is done, and I hope you’ll check it out.  I’m incredibly grateful to the authors who sent me their stories, to my friends and family who supported the book, and to Night Shade who’ve published it.  It’s a book I’m very proud of.  I wish contributors all had their copies today too, but I’m guessing they’ll go out soonish and should trickle through during January.  I hope they are as pleased with it as I am.

And now I’m hard at work on Eclipse Three.  I’ve already bought a story or two, but I’m not going to tell you from whom.  I think this one will be a bit more like the first volume, though that’ll depend very much on what stories come in.  I’m very aware that you can’t predict that, though there are some people I’d kill to have in the book.  It will, almost certainly, be the last book in the series, so I want to make it even more special.  The one thing I do know is that these books are always an adventure, so it’ll be interesting to see what the book we launch in San Jose at World Fantasy is like.  I hope you’ll be there to see.

6 thoughts on “Eclipse Two – in print!!”

  1. Several reasons. First, the initial agreement I made with the publisher was that we’d do three volumes, try to grow the series, and see where it ends up. So far, the books have sold well and certainly met expectations, but we’ve not reached any agreement on more books (or even seriously discussed them). Second, for various reasons, I’m not sure any of the anthology series will prove viable. Readers seem to prefer the variety that stand-alone anthologies give them. Third, while I’d wanted this to simply be ‘stories I like’, I think it probably needs to be more consistently styled so readers can decide if they like it. Eclipse One is quite different from Eclipse Two. That throws readers. Fourth, there are other projects demanding my time, and committing to a batch of series fills my days more than may be ideal. And, fifth, these books were the most personally draining thing I’ve done. The controversies that surrounded both Eclipse One and Two really sucked the life out of me for a while, and I just don’t want to face that again. I suspect every time an Eclipse comes out it’s going to face this ordeal and I’m not sure I want that.

    All of that said, I may well do more. We’ll decide after I deliver Eclipse Three. And on that, I am excited about it. Such a cool bunch of people agreed to write for it that if they deliver it’ll be really sweet. And, if it is the last one, I want it to be fabulous, so it’s one of big things for the next six months. I want it to be the best book I’ve ever done.

  2. Thanks for the very full and informative answer, Jonathan. Some of what you say was, of course, guessable. If there isn’t another one, so be it. But it’s not as if you’re not involved in other exciting projects, so there are still plenty of books to look forward to, and plenty of reasons to watch this space. For which, thanks!

  3. I can only sincerely hope that volume three will not be the last in the series. I mentioned in my review of Eclipse One that I had hoped to get in on the front end of a long running anthology series right from the very beginning and though book two is in the mail to me now I have no doubt I will enjoy it and was hoping the Eclipse series would be an annual tradition for me, and for all the other readers…one that would last for years if not decades. I hope that the ‘controversy’ of the first book and now this one are not what is driving the desire to not go beyond volume three. I read several of the comments and find the whole thing absolutely ridiculous. There are far too many people in the world who choose to see prejudice and bias in everything they see and i hope that limited, narrow view of the world doesn’t stop what I hope to be a long running anthology. Though it is easy for me to say sitting here in the cheap seats I would encourage you to ignore future controversy, publish these excellent books, and if sales stay strong and there is good buzz about them then let the critics be damned. You don’t have to read what they have to say.

    Like I said, easy to say from the cheap seats. I myself got all worked up reading the comments from earlier in the year on SF Signal and I can only imagine how hard it would be to read those as the person who they are directed towards. You shouldn’t have to justify your choices of stories to anyone but the company publishing the books, especially if the stories therein are received well.

    I am excited about the sci fi emphasis in this year’s volume and look forward to diving right into it as soon as it arrives from Nightshade (which will hopefully be tomorrow).

    Have a happy new year Jonathan. I’ll support you whatever decision is made but I for one am hoping for an Eclipse 4 and beyond.

  4. Thank you for the kind, long and considered response. When I first picked up the cudgel for Eclipse I had intended that it run indefinitely, if possible. 2008 really changed my mind about that. Still, the door remains open. Let’s see how #3 goes, and then I’ll make a decision.

  5. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, no doubt about it. As I said, I cannot imagine having those kind of remarks and accusations leveled against me personally. Has to be rough. As livid as I was for you I no doubt would have been homicidal had I been the recipient of that kind of backlash, especially as, from what I saw, almost no one who had a beef with you seemed to listen to or believe a word you had to say. I like to think that often the people with the most narrow minds and an agenda are the ones who are most active in commenting on things like this and those of us with an open mind a bit of brains realize the futility of getting involved in the conversation and just sit quietly. We probably shouldn’t, but it is really hard to have an intelligent conversation with angry people without eventually dropping to their level.

    I think my copy will arrive Monday. Can’t wait!

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