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The Original Anthology Series in Science Fiction
by Rich Horton

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The Original Anthology Series in SF
| Introduction | The Prolific 1970s | New Writers Only |

New Writers Only

At least three original anthology series have restricted themselves to new writers. These are Clarion, of which three volumes were published 1971-1973, edited by Robin Scott Wilson, and a later volume in 1977 edited by Kate Wilhelm, New Voices, four volumes edited by George R.R. Martin, from 1977 through 1981, and L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, edited for 8 volumes by Algis Budrys, then by Dave Wolverton, which has been published annually from 1985 to the present.

The formats of these three series differed. Clarion published stories by students who attended the famous (and still ongoing) Clarion Writers' Workshops, for beginning writers, as well as some essays by the teachers. There were interesting stories by George Alec Effinger, Octavia Butler, Lisa Tuttle, Glen Cook, Carter Scholz and Pat (later P.C.) Hodgell. New Voices published stories by nominees for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Among the writers included were Tuttle again, Joan D. Vinge, John Varley, Alan Brennert, and Jerry Pournelle. Finally, Writers of the Future publishes winners and other well-regarded entries from the Writers of the Future contest. They also publish essays by professional writers on writing. Notable contributors include Wolverton, David Zindell, Karen Joy Fowler, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, and R. Garcia y Robertson.

British Original Anthology Series

As an American, I had much less access, in general, to the various anthologies published in the United Kingdom. However, there were at least two long-lived and influential series, both, interestingly, offspring of the most durable English SF Magazine, New Worlds.

(Edward) John (Ted) Carnell was for a long time the editor of New Worlds. In about 1964 he left that post, leaving the magazine in the hands of Michael Moorcock, who famously instigated the "New Wave". Carnell at this time began a series of original anthologies: New Writings in SF. This series ran for 21 issues between 1964 and 1972 (when Carnell died), and continued through number 30 in 1977 under the editorship of Kenneth Bulmer. I've seen American editions of a few of these anthologies, but mostly they were only published in the UK. A glance at the tables of contents reveals a strikingly different set of writers from American anthologies (hardly surprising). Carnell's tastes seem, in general, to be somewhat traditional, while Bulmer published some more experimental stories (such as several of Brian W. Aldiss' "Enigmas").

Significant stories published in New Writings in SF include Brian W. Aldiss' "Man on Bridge", a number of James White's Sector General stories, and many of Colin Kapp's "Unorthodox Engineer" stories. Later on, under Kenneth Bulmer, portions of Arthur C. Clarke's novel Rendezvous With Rama, and Christopher Priest's novel The Inverted World, were published in the books. Regular contributors to Carnell included Kapp, White, John Rackham, Joseph Green, and John Baxter. Carnell published early stories by Priest, Damien Broderick, and M. John Harrison. Under Bulmer, Kapp remained a regular contributor, and Cherry Wilder, Aldiss, and E. C. Tubb were also frequent contributors.

These anthologies seem quite notably products of the "British Empire": we see Englishmen like Aldiss and Priest, a Northern Irishman such as White, Australians like Baxter and Broderick, a New Zealander in Cherry Wilder, and even the odd American such as Joseph Green.

In the meantime, Michael Moorcock had transformed New Worlds utterly. Throughout the late '60s it was notorious as the leading exponent of the "New Wave" in SF. By 1971, the magazine was dead in that format, however. But Moorcock began publishing New Worlds in book form, at first called New Worlds Quarterly. The books occasionally included reprints of stories from the magazine, but eventually became purely original, and from the beginning, most of the stories were new. The first 5 numbers were edited by Moorcock alone. With number 6 the "Quarterly" designation was dropped, and Charles Platt was co-editor. Platt and Hilary Bailey edited number 7, and Bailey alone edited numbers 8 through 10.

The original anthologies definitely continued the tradition of the Moorcock New Worlds magazine. It is striking to review the contents of these books and see how many fine stories were published. Many of the "experiments" were failures, but many too were very successful, and at his most radical Moorcock wouldn't refuse a very good story that wasn't "experimental". Stories from the Moorcock New Worlds anthologies include one of M. John Harrison's first Viriconium pieces, "The Lamia and Lord Cromis", Thomas M. Disch's "Angouleme", and Keith Roberts' "The Grain Kings" and "Weihnachtabend". Barrington J. Bayley and John Sladek were regular contributors, and Eleanor Arnason's first story was in New Worlds #5.

Under Bailey's editorship, New Worlds featured Arnason's classic "The Warlord of Saturn's Moons", a number of "Dancers at the End of Time" stories by Moorcock, more stuff from Barrington Bayley and Keith Roberts and Thomas Disch, and the debut of Geoff Ryman. New Worlds #10 was published in 1976, and after that the famous name seemed to die.

However, in 1991 David Garnett revived the name, and began a new series of original anthologies, in the tradition, more or less, of Moorcock's New Worlds. Four issues were published, from 1991 through 1994, numbered 1 through 4 (with internal numberings continuing the whole number series of the original magazine so that Garnett's first anthology was #217.) Garnett's anthologies featured contributions from New Worlds mainstays like Brian W. Aldiss and Barrington J. Bayley, as well as fine newer writers such as Gwyneth Jones, Paul di Filippo, Peter Hamilton, and Simon Ings. While this series ended at four, Garnett has again revived the name, publishing a very fine anthology as simply New Worlds (obscurely numbered 222 inside), in 1997. This book included very good stories by Moorcock ("London Bone"), Kim Newman ("Great Western") and Howard Waldrop ("Heart of Whitenesse"), as well as contributions from William Gibson, Ian Watson, and Pat Cadigan among others.

One more UK original anthology series, less well known, was Andromeda, edited by Peter Weston. Three of these were published, from 1976 through 1978, and interesting stories by Ian Watson, Harlan Ellison, George R.R. Martin, Larry Niven and Fritz Leiber were published therein.

Into the 1990s

The significance of general interest SF original anthology series lessened during the 1980s. By the middle of the decade, Terry Carr's Universe was the only remaining such beast, and then Universe ceased with Carr's death. Into the void stepped a new player: Full Spectrum. This was apparently the brainchild of Bantam SF editor Lou Aronica, and for the five editions published in this series, editing credit went to an ever-changing crew of people, apparently all part of the Bantam staff (much as with The Berkley Showcase). (Besides Aronica, editors credited for one or more of the books included Shawna McCarthy, Amy Stout, Pat LoBrutto, Betsy Mitchell, Janna Silverstein, Tom Dupree and Jennifer Hershey.) The Full Spectrum books avowedly had the goal of publishing stories across the "full spectrum" of the SF range, from hard SF to fantasy, and also to publish stories of "literary ambition". In this they most clearly resembled the triumvirate of 1970s anthologies, Orbit, New Dimensions, and Universe. But these books were much bigger than the earlier original anthologies. (Except for some standalones such as Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions.) The first issue featured no less than 25 stories, and it was successful with award voters as well, featuring a Nebula Winner in James Morrow's "Bible Stories for Adults, No. 17: The Deluge", as well as two stories which were nominated for both a Nebula and a Hugo, Norman Spinrad's novella "Journals of the Plague Years" and Jack McDevitt's short story "The Fort Moxie Branch". Subsequent numbers featured impressive stories such as Greg Bear's "Sleepside Story", David Brin's "The Giving Plague" and "What Continues, What Fails...", Gregory Benford's "Matter's End", Karen Joy Fowler's "Black Glass", Martha Soukup's "The Story So Far", and Gene Wolfe's great novella "The Ziggurat". Interesting writers who published early stories in Full Spectrum include L. Timmel Duchamp, Ted Chiang, Patricia Anthony and David Zindell. Full Spectrum ran for five editions between 1988 and 1995.

Full Spectrum was soon followed into the market by the relaunch of a familiar name. Robert Silverberg, with his wife Karen Haber, decided to continue the Universe name, partly in memory of Terry Carr's efforts. They published three anthologies, every other year from 1990 through 1994. These, like Full Spectrum, were long, and emphasized eclecticism and so-called "literary" values. To my perception, the stories in these three anthologies tended a bit more to the exotic, the colorful, than the Full Spectrum stories. My favorite stories were "The Shores of Bohemia" by Bruce Sterling, and "Going West" by Phillip C. Jennings. Universe also published interesting work by Ursula K. Le Guin (her return to the Hainish universe, with "The Shobies' Story"), Barry N. Malzberg, Paul di Filippo, and Sean McMullen, as well as early stories by Jamil Nasir, Alex Jeffers and Tony Daniel. All in all, this was an interesting anthology, but it didn't quite reach the heights of either Full Spectrum or the earlier incarnation of Universe.

If Omni and New Worlds were magazines that spawned original anthologies, Pulphouse was an original anthology series that eventually spawned a magazine. Pulphouse Publishing was a small press, run by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, that published a lot of short SF (and other genres), in the forms of chapbooks, single author collections, novellas published as books, as well as the "Hardback Magazine" Pulphouse, and its successor magazine, Pulphouse Weekly. Twelve issues of Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine (edited by Rusch) appeared between 1988 and 1983. Like the Baen anthology Destinies, Pulphouse buttressed its status as a magazine by including features, and by dating its issues, but by any reasonable definition these were original anthologies. The issues were often themed (broadly: the themes were Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror). Writers such as Harlan Ellison, Harry Turtledove, Michael Bishop, and Kate Wilhelm were among those featured. Don Webb and Nina Kiriki Hoffman were Pulphouse regulars. The debuts of Adam Troy-Castro and L. Timmel Duchamp were in Pulphouse, and particularly memorable stories included "The Moral Virologist" by Greg Egan and "The Third Sex" by Alan Brennert.

I've already mentioned the various incarnations of New Worlds as an original anthology, including its early 90s series. At about this time, 1992 and 1993, another magazine known for publishing cutting edge SF, Omni, ventured into the original anthology field with a short-lived series of three books, entitled Omni Best Science Fiction One, Two and Three, edited by Omni Fiction editor Ellen Datlow. Like the early editions of New Worlds Quarterly, these books mixed in a few reprints from the parent magazine, but the bulk of the stories were original. Authors featured included Dan Simmons, John Crowley, Ursula K. Le Guin, Paul Park, Lucius Shepard, Pat Cadigan and Elizabeth Hand.

By 1996 it seemed that the field would support one major original anthology series installment per year, and that Full Spectrum and Universe would be that book in alternate years. But both had stopped publishing. Into the gap stepped Starlight, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden. The first issue made a big splash, with impressive stories like "Erase, Record, Play" by John M. Ford, "The Dead" by Michael Swanwick, "The Cost to be Wise" by Maureen McHugh, "The Weighing of Ayre" by Gregory Feeley, and the Nebula-winning short story "Sister Emily's Lightship", by Jane Yolen. Two very impressive debut stories were also included, by Andy Duncan and Susanna Clarke. Starlight clearly fits the mold of the original anthology series established by Star, and fixed in place by Orbit: publish a wide range of stories, biased if anything towards the "literary" end of the spectrum, try to establish the market as a prestige market. The second issue, from 1998, is also strong, including Ted Chiang's remarkable novella "Story of Your Life", Raphael Carter's Tiptree Award winning story "Congenital Agenesis of Gender Ideation", and impressive stories by Clarke, Angelica Gorodischer, Martha Soukup, and Jonathan Lethem.

These days a lot of SF, including many short story collections, is published by the small press. It seems natural that small presses might produce original anthologies, and the Ministry of Whimsy Press is now publishing an anthology series, Leviathan. Two themed volumes have appeared to date, in 1997 and 1998, with at least a third planned. Jeff VanderMeer has edited both, with assistance from Luke O'Grady on the first and Rose Secrest on the second. Leviathan explicitly publishes "cross-genre" fiction, or as VanderMeer writes "our brave little circus of surrealism and fabulation". A slipstream anthology, one might say. They have published such writers as Stepan Chapman, Mark Rich, L. Timmel Duchamp, and Richard Calder. I particularly like the Chapman story "Minutes of the Last Meeting" from Leviathan 2.

The New Millennium

The original anthology series, a rare beast when it was invented, became amazingly common during the 1970s, but has slowly diminished in popularity so that now we are lucky to see one major anthology per year. I hope we can maintain at least that rate. Starlight already plans at least a third volume, for 2000. What other anthology series may compete with it? I hope that the Phoenix-like New Worlds will continue to publish. In addition, some of the people involved with Full Spectrum are now at Avon, and apparently plan a new anthology "in the spirit of Full Spectrum".

I've long looked forward to the best anthologies. At their best, they publish both very high quality stories, and a broad range of stories. Often they publish rather quirky stories as well. High pay, a certain increased attention in terms of reviews, an impression of the better series as prestige markets, and editorial policies and schedules which sometimes allow greater selectivity, have allowed the editors of many of these anthologies to consistently feature a sampling of the best short SF of their respective periods. The magazines remain the lifeblood of the field, the place where the most short stories are published, and the most new writers are first featured, but it does us good to have a book to point to each year as a special event.


The Original Anthology Series in SF
| Introduction | The Prolific 1970s | New Writers Only |
Anthology Links
For further information on original science fiction anthologies and their contents, you can visit:

Internet Science Fiction Database
William Contento's Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections
Locus Magazine's Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror: 1984-1996

Copyright © 1999 by Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton.


New Dimensions 3
Star SF #3
Star Short Novels
New Writings in SF 3
New Writings in SF 4
New Voices 3
New Voices 4
New Worlds
New Worlds 4
New Worlds 6
New Worlds Quarterly 1
New Worlds Quarterly 2
Flashing Swords 1
Flashing Swords 2
Full Spectrum 1
Full Spectrum 2
Berkeley Showcase 1
Berkeley Showcase 2
Berkeley Showcase 3
Berkeley Showcase 4
Universe 1
Omni 1
Starlight 1
Leviathan 1
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