A year or three ago I was having drinks with the Solaris team in a bar. It was at a convention somewhere. We’d crossed paths a few times across the weekend and had talked about working together, but nothing concrete had been decided. We were trying each other on for size.
With the convention winding down we met one last time and, after a drink or two, they asked me if I’d edit a hard SF anthology for them. I don’t recall the remit was anything more specific than that. An unthemed hard SF anthology. I was delighted. Solaris were doing great books, I was eager to work with them, and I love hard SF (however you define it).
I went home and began to sketch out plans for the book that would become Engineering Infinity. I knew who had to be in it. Charlie Stross, Hannu Rajaniemi, Peter Watts and a bunch of others. Some of the writers I wanted to be involved weren’t available but many were, and the book ended up being something pretty special.
My recollection is that the book was barely done when we were discussing another “Infinity” book. I’d just read James S.A Corey’s Leviathan’s Wake and Stan Robinson’s 2312. I was thoroughly engaged by the idea of an industrialised, settled and populated solar system, but one where the unrealities of interstellar travel hadn’t come into play. I suppose I was thinking of stories that sat on the cusp between hard SF and space opera. Again, I knew who I wanted to get involved, and many of them were available. That book became Edge of Infinity, which just recently won the Locus Award for Best Anthology of the year.
I don’t think I’d long delivered Edge when we started discussing a third “Infinity” book, this time Reach for Infinity. Jonathan Oliver, my editor at Solaris and a terrifically talented writer and editor himself, and I discussed what the book could be. Having done a far future book (Engineering Infinity) and a mid-period future book (Edge of Infinity) it seemed appropriate to do a book focussing on the period when humanity was struggling to get off Earth, to find its way to the stars, if indeed it was going to make it at all. That lead to Reach for Infinity, the third “Infinity” book.
Even now I’m tossing ideas around for a fourth “Infinity” book. It’s far too early to agree to do another one – that will possibly come some time after Christmas – but I can see how the next episode in what I’ve come to think of as “The Infinity Project” might unfold. In some ways, it’s nothing less than a view of science fiction itself and of the future.