Staring down deadlines, not flinching

I know I only slept five hours, but I jumped (well staggered) out of bed on Saturday morning and headed direct for the ‘to do’ list. I needed to read, review or write twenty-nine bio notes for the stories in the year’s best, write the introduction, compile my first ever recommended reading list, assemble the manuscript, review/re-write the introduction to the Australian fantasy antho, get the last stories in, review the bio notes for it, read some stories, and get the Locus reviews edited. Along the way I had to make lunch and dinner, and attend ‘Family Movie Night’.

Because I am a machine(!), almost all of this was done by 9pm last night. A good day was had by all, a near-complete version of the manuscripts for both books was achieved, and all the cooking and family stuff was done. I’m kinda impressed.

This morning I did a little editing, then headed out for a swim with the kids. It went well and I feel good as a result. Next dim sum, then home to read those stories and do the Locus edits. If I can get those done, and some ironing, then this weekend was for the win!

It also means the next weekend I can attend the kids day out on Saturday and spend Sunday processing the copyedits for the swords and sorcery book. The following weekend will be the Mars book, and the weekend after that is Christmas. What a year!

A quick note on next year, or I knew I was busy

Well, for reasons I can’t quite put a finger on, I’ve just spent a little while looking at my commitments and it rather looks like I’m going to have a lot of books out in 2010. Fourteen in fact, which sort of staggers me. Should all go to plan – and quite often things don’t – I’ll have five original anthologies, two reprint anthologies, and no less than seven single-author collections. There will also be a 60,000 word special issue of Subterranean Magazine, which will be out in April.

For those of you following along at home, these are the books:

Original anthologies

  1. Eclipse Four
  2. Godlike Machines (long -delayed, but coming!)
  3. Legends of Australian Fantasy (co-edited with Jack Dann)
  4. Phantasmagoria and Madness: Tales from the Steampunk Century (co-edited with Bill Shafer)
  5. Swords and Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery (a major book co-edited with Lou Anders)

Reprint anthologies

  1. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 4
  2. Wings of Fire

Single author collections edited by me

  1. Mirror Kingdoms: The Best of Peter S. Beagle
  2. The Best of Joe Haldeman (co-edited with Gary K. Wolfe)
  3. Fritz Leiber: Selected Stories 1950-1983 (co-edited with Charles N. Brown)
  4. The Best of Larry Niven
  5. The Best of Kim Stanley Robinson
  6. Hard Luck Diggings: The Early Jack Vance (co-edited with Terry Dowling)
  7. The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories, Walter Jon Williams

Where have I been, and on editing

Well, dear blog, I continue to be at best an unreliable correspondent, for which I apologise, as I always do. In truth, I doubt that this will change in the foreseeable future. We’re racing into the Christmas season and, as I’ve detailed before, I’m busy enough that anything that can slip by unnoticed probably shall. I am not pleased with this, but I acknowledge that it’s true. Were I more determined I would force myself to write more often. I would post links to reviews, recommend books, and so on and so forth, and yet I don’t. I hope the books and other work will prove enough. And please don’t feel as though I’m ignoring you to favour others. Yes, I said I’d review a Top 40 SF stories of all time for Locus, who I work with always, but I’ve not found the focus to do that. I also am going to write a little for, but while I hope the writing will prove to be of substance, there’s not likely to be a lot of it.

I will tell you something that is on my mind, which I want to get on paper as much as anything else. As you know, I’ve been occupied in editing Eclipse for the past two years, and it’s been a rocky and far from simple process. I continue to work on it, and will do so until the publisher tells me to stop, and I do so for two reasons: the first is that I believe strongly in the stories I get to publish and the second is that I find I learn more about myself and my editing through that series of books than through anything else I do.

Why? Well, I don’t pretend to be an overly self-reflective person but the conversations that have gone on around Eclipse have made me question my opinions about SF and editing like nothing else. I fell into editing in a very natural and easy way. It wasn’t a plan, a career, or a vocation. It was something that was fun to do, that became more fun the more I did it. I now find I need to externalise and intellectualise what I’ve learnt and consider what I’ve not. Yes, this includes issues like inclusivity and gender balance, but it also includes things like what makes a good science fiction story, why a story is a good science fiction story, and the notion of honesty and truthfulness in editing.

I don’t yet know where these considerations and ruminations will end. I still feel, even as I race towards my 46th birthday and my 20th year as an editor, that I’m only starting out in this game. I feel like I only started in 2004, and everything that came before was mostly fun, so, for me at least, it’s new.

What does this mean for 2010 and the books I’m working on? Well, the thing I’d stress is that this is an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary process. I’m trying, quite deliberately now, to test all of my assumptions about science fiction and editing. Some of those assumptions will stand, some will fall, and some will change. I think the ‘best of the year’ volume I’m working on now will be only slightly different from its predecessors, while the 2010 volume (to be published in 2011) may be quite different. The original anthologies that are just delivered or are about to be delivered will be closer to what I’ve done in the past, but the ones in conception will be different. Eclipse Four, which is even now in its infancy will continue to be the laboratory for whatever it is I’ll do. And, slowly, it will all change. How? I’m working that out, and I’ll try to either explain it here or over at in the coming year.

Is that it? I guess so. Except, go pre-order Holly Black’s short story collection, The Poison Eaters. I’m ridiculously excited about it.


I edit THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OF THE YEAR anthology series for Night Shade Books. The fourth volume in the series will be published in March 2010, and the fifth should appear in March 2011.

I am currently reading for the 2010 volume of THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY: VOLUME FIVE, and am looking for stories from all branches of science fiction and fantasy: space opera to cyberpunk, fairy tales to the slipstream, or anything else that might qualify. If in doubt, please send it. Please note: This is a reprint anthology, so I am only reading material published between 1 January and 31 December 2010.

I work on a tight deadline, and need to see work as early as possible. With that in mind, the submission deadline for this year’s book is 1 October 2010. Anything sent after this deadline will reach me too late. If a magazine, anthology, or collection you are in or you edit is coming out before 31 December 2010 you can send galleys or manuscripts so that I can consider the stories in time.

I prefer to receive book-length submissions in print.  Anything else can be sent to me via email.  Where possible I prefer .rtf or .doc files. PDFs are acceptable, but are usually very inconvenient. I strongly suggest that authors check with their publishers that they are sending review copies out to me, as I don’t have the resources to follow-up every publisher to get material.

When sending material please put THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY: VOLUME FIVE on the envelope.

Jonathan Strahan
PO Box 544
Mt Lawley WA 6929

Email submissions, recommendations or information on publications via email. The contact address is jonathan.strahan (at) gmail (dot) com.


I am eager to see and be able to consider the work you are publishing. If you are producing a magazine, a chapbook, a collection or anthology with any original stories in it please let me know. While I prefer not to accept email submissions for book length works as a rule, I am happy to talk to publishers about making exceptions where necessary. The important thing, for me, is to make sure that I get to consider the best science fiction and fantasy published during 2010.

* I do not need to receive manuscripts from authors of stories from venues that it’s likely I already receive regularly (I get Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, Interzone, Realms of Fantasy, Postscripts etc, but not many of the smaller ‘zines and publications).

** If you are publishing online, you need only email me (jstrahan (at) iinet (dot) net (dot) au) to let me know. I don’t require print-outs of online publications (I regularly read, IGMS, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Fantasy etc online).

*** Please do not send an SASE. This is not a submission per se, and I’m not able to return manuscripts or respond directly to stories sent to me.