I Have an Idea for a Book...
Edited by John Helfers
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
On of my great memories of fandom was the morning at Windycon that I saw Martin H. Greenberg sitting alone at a small table in the restaurant during breakfast. I walked over to say good morning and he invited me to join him. We talked for a while and at the end of the meal he told me that I should write up some of my ideas for anthologies and send them to him. About two years later, when I got home from work, my wife had a message for me: Marty Greenberg had called. At the time, I was working on running another Windycon and also programming for a Worldcon. I figured he was calling about one of those two events. I had a passing thought something may have come from the list of ideas I sent him, but it was a distant third. When I hung up the phone, my wife asked what the call was about and I said, rather stunned, “I just sold three books.” The publication details of those volumes, along with thousands of other books that Greenberg worked on, can be found in I Have an Idea For a Book…, probably the one phrase Greenberg heard most often in his life.
There is a brief introduction to the book by John Helfers, who worked for Greenberg at Tekno Books for several years. Following these few pages, the book gets to the heart of the matter, a nearly 600 page listing of the hundreds of anthologies, collections, and novels Greenberg had a hand in creating. While well known for his work in anthologies, co-editing with such luminaries as Isaac Asimov, Dana Stabenow, and others, several of the works cited are actually novels, such as Jim Hines’s first book, GoblinQuest. These entries not only provide complete bibliographic information about the books, but also reprint information and, in the case of collections and anthologies, a listing of the tables of contents. When a book or story has been nominated or won any awards, those are listed as well.
The book is divided into chapters by genre, which helps to organize the material, but also causes an issue with works which don’t fit neatly into one of the eight categories. In those cases, the reader might have to check the science fiction, fantasy, and supernatural horror chapters before they find the book they are looking for. Although the book does come with a CD-ROM (and is also available as a PDF), this is a place where having an index would have been helpful when referring to the actual book. Using the electronic versions, the search function does come in handy, although in cases like Hines, whose name can appear with multiple spellings, it loses some of its effectiveness.
Similarly, with Greenberg’s work unfortunately at an end, it would have been nice if a system of numbering his works had been used. Labeling each book with a bibliographic code (M for mysteries, S for science fiction, and so on) would have been a nice, if non-essential touch, and would have provided a useful tool for future reference to Greenberg’s massive oeuvre.
I Have an Idea for a Book... not only provides the researcher with a convenient look at Greenberg’s publication history and a portion of the history of those authors and editors who worked with him, but also provides the reader with a source of excellent (and, it must be said some mediocre) books and stories to hunt down.