Announcing The New Voices of Science Fiction, an Essential Anthology of the Future

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In 2017, Tachyon Publications and editors Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman released The New Voices of Fantasy, an anthology of some of the most exciting writers the gene has produced over the past decade—names like Sam J. Miller, Max Gladstone, Brooke Bolander, Alyssa Wong, and Amal El-Mohtar; names that had already grown familiar, provided you pay attention to who is out there winning awards for short fiction. And indeed, the anthology itself became an award-winner, picking up a 2018 World Fantasy Award.

With that kind of success in the rearview mirror, its only natural to try to replicate the experience on the other side of the genre divide. This fall, Jacob Weisman teams with award-winning author Hannu Rajaniemi (The Quantum Thief, Summerland, Invisible Planets) for the companion volume The New Voices of Science Fiction, which features a laudable mission—to highlight the most vibrant new creators of cutting-edge SFF—and a truly enviable list of contributors.

Check out the official summary and full cover (with art by Matt Dixon and design by Elizabeth Story) below. The book arrives November 11, 2019.

What would you do if your collective of tiny bots suddenly decide to mutiny? Would you find bioprinted steak delicious, even after it was signed by the artist? Is an 11 second attention-span long enough to bond with a cryogenically-revived tourist? Would you sell your native language to send your daughter to college?

The avant garde of science fiction has appeared, arriving via time machines and portals that may (or may not) work properly. In this space-age sequel to award-winning anthology, The New Voices of Fantasy, The New Voices of Science Fiction has launched the rising stars of the last five years of science fiction, including Rebecca Roanhorse, Amal El-Mohtar, Alice Sola Kim, Sam J. Miller, E. Lily Yu, Rich Larson, Vina Jie-Min Prasad, Sarah Pinsker, Darcie Little Badger, S. Qiouyi Lu, Kelly Robson, Suzanne Palmer, Nino Cipri, and more. Their wide-ranging tales were hand-selected by cutting-edge author Hannu Rajaniemi (The Quantum Thief) and genre expert Jacob Weisman (Invaders).

So go ahead, join the starship revolution. The new kids hotwired the AI.

World Fantasy Award-winner The New Voices of Fantasy is available now.

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Catherynne Valente Is Writing a Sequel to Space Opera. Yes, it Is Called Space Oddity

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Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

It was the book so preposterous, so frenetic, so wild and word-drunk, that only Catherynne M. Valente could’ve written it: Space Opera, the life-affirming, Eurovision-inspired ode to every broken soul ever soothed by the power of a heartfelt ballad, a kicking drum solo, a sweet guitar lick. The unlikely story of a washed-up glam rocker abducted by aliens and forced to sing for the Earth’s supper (not to mention its right to continue existing in an “unexploded by aliens” form) in an intergalactic battle of the bands, it is now a Hugo Award nominee—and, even more improbably, the first book in a series.

Yes, there will be a sequel to Space Opera. And yes, of course it is going to be called Space Oddity.

There’s no cover yet, and no back cover blurb. All we know for sure is the release date: Spring 2021.

Luckily, we were also able to wrangle a few minutes with the freshly Hugo-nominated author to find out a little bit more…

Space Opera (or should we say Hugo Award-nominee Space Opera?) is both a delightful and deeply odd work of sci-fi, rooted in your singular obsession with Eurovision, but it’s also deeply thoughtful, with a lot to say about how far humans are willing to go to push others away, and how profound is our need to connect. And, impossibly, readers fell for it in a big way. How did it feel to see people embrace such a deeply personal project?
It was such an amazing experience, seeing people respond to Space Opera. Reviews are reviews, and some will be positive and some will be negative, but the overwhelming love readers showed this book knocked me for a whole loop. It’s so very different than my other books, and of course I was worried about all the press comparing me to Douglas Adams backfiring in a big way. And to be quite frank, when you pour so much of your heart into a book, and your heart happens to be full of dumb puns and glitter and politics and more glitter, you just tend to worry about how people are going to handle your heart.

I’ve been flabbergasted. I never expected readers to embrace it like this. I’m not sure anyone did. I spent the first few weeks just slowly realizing that I’d done something okay. And when I started seeing handmade fan t-shirts and “Life is beautiful and life is stupid” signs waved by fans at Eurovision itself less than a month later (yeah, that happened), it finally started to sink in that Space Opera really meant something to a lot of people other than just dumb-pun-and-glitter me. Some of the things that have been said to me about this novel, by fans and by critics, have literally brought tears to my eyes. It was a hard book to write and I worked so hard on it, so to have it really grokked is breathtaking. It’s what you always hope for and rarely get.

But there’s something so terribly Space Opera about that. This underdog book that appeared out of nowhere with a cover like some lost ’80s concept album art became a hit against all odds. Decibel Jones would say of course that’s how it was, how could it have gone any other way?

The first book is loaded with Eurovision in-jokes, quirky cameos (Clippy!) and hidden references. Are there any Easter eggs readers have yet to discover? Which one is your favorite?
I’ve made no secret that the aliens, as well as their planet names and personal names, are all words taken from the languages of Eurovision-participating countries. Which is one of the best decisions I ever made—and I made it on a whim on day one. My office was covered in papers with lists of words I liked in forty different languages, and slowly, over the course of weeks, they went from being lists of random words to lists of my weird space-friends, familiar and beloved.

But I don’t think anyone has noticed the English one. Obviously, England is one of the big five Eurovision countries who contribute so much money to the thing that they’re guaranteed a final slot every year, so out of all the alien names, surely one is in bloody English.

It’s the Esca. An esca is the proper anatomical word for that little light-up probosicis thing that arcs over the head of an anglerfish. I thought that was rather neat.

So, we’re burying the lede here: You’re writing a sequel! When you wrote Space Opera, did you already know there could be a followup?
By the end, yes, absolutely. I wanted to write more in this universe. I love my alien species so much, and my bright broken rock stars, and I love writing in this style. The minute a time-traveling red panda wondered whether Decibel Jones would be interested in being a starship captain, the next book started waving cheekily from the corners of my mind. I’ve always loved the way Pratchett and Adams pulled off having many books in the same universe without having them be completely dependent on the other stories in the series. We’ll see how good I am at that, I suppose.

Besides, you always have to get the band back together for one more show.

What can readers expect from book two? Where do you go in the wake of an intergalactic singing competition?
These are the voyages of the Starship Glam. The further adventures of Dess and Mira and Oort, and introducing Marvin the half-human, half-Esca ingenue on drums. Earth is safe, for the moment, and taking its first steps into the greater galactic community—you know that won’t go well. Another Grand Prix is always right around the corner. And of course, other possibly-sentient species can emerge at any time…

It seems impossible for the book to be called anything other than Space Oddity. In fact, it’s so good, it practically justifies the book on its own. Were there ever any other contenders for the title?
Not a one.

Now, if there’s a third, I’m not sure where I’ll dig up another half as good as the first two, so I try not to think about that.

Does book two have a big hook akin to the singing competition?
Star Trek meets Live Aid! (Original Series, obviously.)

I can say that we’ll see the Metagalactic Grand Prix again, but from a very different perspective.

Can you sum up Space Oddity in a single Eurovision video? (Or song?)
How did no one ask me this for the first book???

If Space Opera was the literary equivalent of “Love Love Peace Peace,” the fantastic parody/tribute to all of Eurovision from the judging interval in 2015…

then Space Oddity is “Rise Like a Phoenix,” Austria 2014:

With a little bit of Dustin the Turkey thrown in.

Space Oddity will be published in 2021, but you can read Space Opera on repeat until then.

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Announcing Year’s Best Science Fiction, a New Annual Anthology from Saga Press

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The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year: Vol. 13 cover by Jim Burns

This April’s release of The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year: Vol. 13 marks the end of editor Jonathan Strahan’s annual assemblage of noteworthy SFF stories—an finale that comes about a year after the arrival of the last volume of the late Gardner Dozois’ The Year’s Best Science Fiction, which he edited for 35 years, until his death in 2018 (his final work, the retrospective The Very Best of the Best, was released last month).

The loss of these two yearly collections would seem to be a significant blow to readers and authors… But remember: This is SFF.

This is another. There’s always another.

We’re pleased to announce that in 2020, Jonathan Strahan and Simon & Schuster’s Saga Press will launch Year’s Best Science Fiction: The Saga Annual Anthology of SF.

Jonathan Strahan (photo by Ellen Datlow)

In addition to The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year, World Fantasy Award-winner Strahan is the editor behind some of the most acclaimed anthologies of the past two decades, including The Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, The New Space Opera series, the Eclipse anthologies, and the Infinity Project anthologies. He has been responsible for publishing such acclaimed stories as Ted Chiang’s “Exhalation,” Karen Joy Fowler’s “Pelican Bar,” Pat Cadigan’s “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi,” Kij Johnson’s The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe, and Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Agents of Dreamland.  

His anthology work has won the World Fantasy, Locus, Aurealis, and Ditmar Awards and earned nominations for the Hugo, British Science Fiction, Philip K. Dick, and Shirley Jackson Awards. The driving force behind his career as an editor is a deep love of science fiction and of the short story. That is why, he said, his first ever anthology was a year’s best annual—a staple of the SF field since the 1950s—and why, each year for the past 15 years, he has edited a year’s best anthology that has aimed to present the very best science fiction stories from around the world.

According to Strahan, Year’s Best Science Fiction will be a world-spanning anthology series collecting the best science fiction short stories published around the world.

Year’s Best Science Fiction: The Saga Annual Anthology of SF will be the definitive collection of short SF published each year,” Strahan said. It will feature more than 250,000 words of fiction, an extensive list of recommending reading, and a detailed overview of the year in genre penned by the editor—which he, an SFF podcaster and a reviews editor for Locus, is uniquely placed to provide. Over the years, the series, “will build into an invaluable library of classic and cutting edge science fiction,” Strahan said.

Year’s Best Science Fiction 2019: The Saga Annual Anthology of SF will debut in July 2020.

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Myths Made Modern: Announcing The Mythic Dream, a New Anthology from the Creators of The Starlit Wood

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Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe are the genius editing minds behind two of the most acclaimed anthologies of recent years. The Starlit Wood, a collection of new and reimagined fairy tales, was winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, a finalist for numerous other honors, and the place of first publication for Amal El-Mohtar’s Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning story “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” as well as “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik, later expanded into the bestselling novel of the same name.  Six of the entries in last year’s Robots vs. Fairies (which is… pretty much what it sounds like: a volume of stories in which authors were asked to pick a side between the magical and the mechanical) are on the 2018 Locus recommended reading list (as is the anthology as a whole).

Naturally, we’ve been excited to see what the partnership of Wolfe & Parisien has in store for us next… and now we know.

Today we are pleased to announce the immanent arrival of The Mythic Dream, which, like The Starlit Wood, makes old stories new again. It is billed as an anthology of reimagined myths: 18 stories that are “bold reimaginings of the stories we tell about gods and kings, heroes who shaped nations.”

Below, we’ve provided a first look at the cover, with art by Serena Malyon and design by Michael McCartney, as well the complete lineup of contributing authors. But first, here’s the official summary…

These are dreams of classic myths, bold reimaginings of the stories we tell about gods and kings, heroes who shaped nations, the why and how of the world.

Journey with us to the fields of Elysium and the Midwest, through labyrinths and the space between stars. Witness the birth of computerized deities and beasts that own the night. Experience eternal life through curses and biochemistry.

Bringing together stories from the world over, eighteen critically acclaimed and award-winning authors reimagine myths of the past for the world of today, and tomorrow.

The collection will feature stories by the following all-star authors:

John Chu
Leah Cypess
Indrapramit Das
Amal El-Mohtar
Jeffrey Ford
Sarah Gailey
Carlos Hernandez
Kat Howard
Stephen Graham Jones
T. Kingfisher
Ann Leckie
Carmen Maria Machado
Arkady Martine
Seanan McGuire
Naomi Novik
Rebecca Roanhorse
JY Yang
Alyssa Wong

The Mythic Dream will be published August 27, 2019.

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Not the Last: Revealing The Unicorn Anthology

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Earlier this year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publication of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, perhaps the 20th century’s definitive take on the mythical creatures. But unicorns are far older than that—and still in the world today—fact that will be celebrated next year in The Unicorn Anthology, coming next year from Tachyon Books and editors Jacob Weisman and, yes, Peter S. Beagle—the same dup who this year won a World Fantasy Award for the fantastic The New Voices of Fantasy.

Today, we’ve got a look at the cover and the official summary, which hints at the participation of such heavy-hitting contributors as Garth Nix, Jane Yolen, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and more. See both below. The book arrives in April.

Unicorns: Not just for virgins anymore. Here are 12 lovely, powerful, intricate, and unexpected unicorn tales from fantasy icons including Garth Nix, Peter S. Beagle, Patricia A. McKillip, Bruce Coville, Carrie Vaughn, and more. In this volume you will find two would-be hunters who enlist an innkeeper to find a priest hiding the secret of the last unicorn. A time traveler tries to corral an unruly mythological beast that might never have existed at all. The lover and ex-boyfriend of a dying woman join forces to find a miraculous remedy in New York City. And a small-town writer of historical romances discovers a sliver of a mysterious horn in a slice of apple pie.

Preorder The Unicorn Anthology, coming April 19, 2019.

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A Grave-Robber Accused of Murdering a Corpse: Announcing The Resurrectionist of Caligo, by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga

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Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga’s The Resurrectionist of Caligo has such a killer premise—a Victorian-era grave robber who steals bodies for science winds up accused of the murder of one of the corpses he’s dug up—that we were sold on the book even before we heard about all the other cool stuff it packs in: a rebellious princess, blood magic, class struggles, court intrigue, a killer on the loose, and a splash of romance.

The book arrives next August from Angry Robot, and today, we’re pleased to share with you the official summary, as well as a little something on the history of those “Resurrectionists” we disparigingly call “body-snatchers,” courtesy of one of the co-authors, Wendy Trimboli. Find that essay below the blurb, and preorder the novel now.

With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in an wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation.

There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

A Brief History of Grave Robbing…for Science!

These monsters of mankind, who made the graves,

To the chirurgeons became hyred slaves;

They rais’d the dead again out of the dust,

And sold them, to satisfy their lust.

– excerpt from a broadsheet ballad sold in Edinburgh, 1711

Sometimes, the dead don’t stay buried. For centuries we have tried to prevent this. We’ve locked them in tombs and iron coffins, fortified graves with stone slabs and metal cages, assembled tripwires and spring guns, set out watchmen and dogs. Still they escape, rising from the freshly churned earth or vacating an open coffin at a wake, and assisted by that fascinating gothic monster: the resurrectionist.

Resurrectionists—also called body snatchers, ghouls, or sack-‘em-up gentlemen—were corpse smugglers who haunted graveyards in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In a symbiotic danse macabre with anatomists and surgeons, the resurrectionist waltzed reluctant stiffs away from pointless rot in the sepulcher toward a new eternity on the dissection table. Exploiting common superstitions, they operated in remote churchyards where average civilians wouldn’t venture after dark. The morbid activities of these clever, fearless, and resourceful entrepreneurs of the necropolis cemented them in the public imagination, though rarely as heroes. From Jerry Cruncher in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to Robert Louis Stevenson’s titular character in “The Body Snatcher,” literary resurrectionists are a rough-and-tumble crowd.

Gothic fiction helped establish the resurrectionist’s ghoulish reputation. In fact, the word “ghoul” entered the English vernacular in 1786 thanks to the classic gothic novel Vathek by William Beckford. He borrowed the Arabic term ghūl from middle eastern folklore (probably Arabian Nights), referring to an evil spirit that lived in cemeteries and ate the flesh of the dead. Soon resurrectionists, or anyone with “unhealthy” morbid fixations, had the label “ghoul” slapped on them. In 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein illustrated the fraught moral knot of scientific advancement. Victor Frankenstein wears the hat of both resurrectionist and anatomist as he gathers body parts to bring his corpse-creation to life. His monster, created of hijacked corpses, ironically supplies its maker with many more. Victor’s fear and rejection of his monster reflects a cultural dread about “interfering” with the dead, the same attitudes that made resurrectionists (and the surgeons they supplied) into “ghouls” to begin with.

Facing a relentless smear campaign, medical professionals in the early nineteenth century tried to boost their soured public image while also distancing themselves from the lower class of resurrectionist suppliers, whom they needed more than ever. Some gave open-house anatomy lectures, hoping to kindle in the public an interest in medical science. Unfortunately, the average layperson of the time saw dissection as the stuff of nightmares, fit only as a punishment for heinous criminals.

An offended public still didn’t faze teaching-surgeons as much as a lack of fresh bodies. The only legal supply of cadavers came from the gallows. But where a single corpse had once been enough for an entire lecture hall of medical students, new teaching methods imported from Paris required a cadaver for every student. The roughly sixty executions in Great Britain per year were not nearly enough for the estimated five hundred cadavers used in medical schools by the 1820s. In Britain, resurrectionists supplemented this meager supply by exploiting a legal loophole. Officially, corpses belonged to no one. By tossing all clothing and effects back into the coffin, resurrectionists could expect a light misdemeanor charge – if they were arrested. But as demand for stiffs grew, so did preventative measures targeting the naughty local snatcher.

Fresh wealthy stiffs couldn’t take money to the afterlife, but they could afford eternal rest. The upper class protected its dead with ingenious methods: sealed iron coffins, spring guns, metal cage-like mortsafes, and watchmen. Resurrectionists meanwhile had to go farther afield to source bodies, with unfortunate implications for disenfranchised people. British resurrectionists made business trips to poorer churchyards in Ireland and shipped bodies back to Liverpool in barrels, while resurrectionists in the United States targeted slave cemeteries with little fear of retribution. But even these desperate measures couldn’t keep the body snatching economy in the green. As the ready supply of fresh corpses continued to decline in the 1820s, opportunists like the infamous duo Burke and Hare resorted to outright murder.

William Burke and William Hare were more ghoulish than the typical resurrectionist. Though they never robbed a grave to obtain a corpse, their murder spree heralded the end of the “resurrectionist times” in Britain. They famously suffocated at least sixteen victims in Edinburgh in 1828, preying on the weak, elderly, and those easily plied with alcohol. Dr Knox, the surgeon on the receiving end, was so impressed with the freshness of the corpses they supplied, he gave them regular bonuses. Perhaps realizing he might end up on an anatomist’s table himself, Hare turned evidence on his partner Burke before fleeing town. The latter was hanged and fittingly dissected in a lecture hall before a pitiless mob of medical students, who rioted when they couldn’t all fit in the door. In the eyes of the public, every (mostly) law-abiding resurrectionist became a murderer by association – a lasting link that ensured the resurrectionist’s enduring, if somewhat misleading, reputation.

The public anti-resurrectionist frenzy following Burke’s trial paved the way for the passing of the Anatomy Act of 1832, which provided new legal sources of cadavers to medical schools. Now hospitals and workhouses could donate their unclaimed dead to science, putting British resurrectionists out of work for good. The general public still feared dissection due to religious taboos. However, wealthy philanthropist Jeremy Bentham started a new trend when he left his body to science in 1832, and the cultural stigma of dissection has faded slowly ever since.

Like many monsters, the resurrectionist isn’t quite so terrifying when we hold a metaphorical lantern up to his (or, rarely, her) face and stare him down. What do we see? Probably a fit, lower class young man with an ill-paying day job just looking to line his pockets with extra coin. He’s skeptical enough to brave cemeteries after dark, but impressionable enough to drink a pint or three afterward, to forget the clammy flesh he’s touched and sold. Perhaps, like our protagonist in The Resurrectionist of Caligo, he even covets his humble, if necessary, role in the push for scientific progress. And maybe in facing his own mortality, instead of a deathbed religious epiphany, he’ll judge the value of his own corpse-flesh and wonder, if he can just make it to a teaching hospital on his own steam, whether the attending surgeon will pay an extra quid for freshness.

Alicia Zaloga grew up in Virginia Beach not liking the beach, and now moves every few years, sometimes to places near beaches. She has a writing degree from Columbia College Chicago, and when she’s not dealing with life’s chores, she collects hobbies: plucking the E string on the bass, producing an alarming number of artistic doodles, and French beading floral bouquets.

Wendy Tremboli grew up in England, Germany and the United States, and learned to speak two languages well enough that most people can understand her. Determined to ignore her preference for liberal arts, she attended the US Air Force Academy then worked as an intelligence officer, which was less exciting than it sounds. These days she has a creative writing MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Colorado with her family, border collie, and far too many books.

Preorder The Resurrectionist of Caligo, available August 6, 2019.

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