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 Tor.com, 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 Tor.com 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.

2 thoughts on “Where have I been, and on editing”

  1. For me, Eclipse 3 arrived today (as did Songs of the Dying Earth). I’ve sort of adopted short SF as a hobby and it’s such a pleasure to follow the thoughts (and plans, and anxieties, and navel gazing) of those who bring the books I love into the world.

    So thank you.

  2. While this may not be too close on topic, I felt like this might be the best place to put this. Today…a day that started just like any other, turned out to be an unexpectedly exciting day.

    I walked into my local bookstore and was surprised to see Eclipse 3 on the shelf. While this may not seem like it should be a big surprise, after all, it has been published already, it was a pleasant and unexpected surprise for me because with each of the previous two volumes my stores did not place copies on the shelves until after the first of the year. I fully expected to wait until January to get a copy of Eclipse 3.

    Now of course, I could have just ordered it, but I’ve been a bit sentimental about this whole process. I wrote to you back when the first volume came out (or I wrote it in my blog review, I cannot recall) that I was excited about being able to get in on the ground floor of a new sci fi/fantasy anthology series. I was forever seeing volume after volume of series from the “good old days” of science fiction and was lamenting the fact that I wanted something of my own, from my own generation. And there was Eclipse One! I had purchased the other two volumes from my local Barnes and Noble and wanted to continue the tradition. So again, I was sooo pleased to find it on the shelf today. The person buying their books must finally be on the ball.

    I rushed home and read your introduction. While I don’t share your views on the first cover, I do feel like yours are the more valid views. You actually have a reason for feeling it was “good” over “great”. I felt like it was “great” because I am a fan of Whelan’s work and love that image. Nothing more profound than that.

    Originally when I saw a cover image for Eclipse 3 online I didn’t know what to think. I kind of liked the blue format and the way they looked so nice together sitting on my bookshelf. I then promptly forgot about it. When I picked the book up today I was very pleased. Richard Powers wonderful artwork is featured on my favorite paperback versions of Harry Harrison’s early Stainless Steel Rat books, and these are among my favorite stories from my childhood/teenage days and remain so today. When I saw the cover in person, I was just blown away. It is fantastic. It has a nostalgic feel that immediately appeals to me while being…what did you say, “mysterious”?. It hints at what may be inside the pages of this book without revealing anything and without, at least for me, conjuring up preconceived notions of what to expect. I cannot wait to dive in.

    Lastly, I was thrilled to see in your introduction that this is NOT the last edition of Eclipse. I was afraid because of the controversy of the last volume that you might just pack it in. I’m glad that is not the case. I have yet to begin Eclipse 3 and am thrilled to know that there will be an Eclipse 4.

    Congrats Jonathan. I look forward to sharing my thoughts once I’ve finished what is sure to be another grand adventure in the land of short stories.

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