Tag Archives: Jetse de Vries

MIND MELD: Why are Anthologies Important?

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

This week, we asked our panelists the following:

Q: Why are anthologies important for writers and readers of Speculative Fiction? What have been some of your favorite anthologies?

Here’s what they said:

Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Benjanun Sriduangkaew likes airports, bees, and makeup. Her works can be found in Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and anthologies such as End of the Road and Clockwork Phoenix 4.

I adore anthologies. As a reader still new to speculative fiction, it’s a quick way to discover writers, both established and up-and-coming, in one go. In any anthology though there’s a unifying theme there is also usually a huge range of styles, forms, and perspectives – diversity in every sense of the word. It can be exciting compared to reading a novel by a familiar writer; there’s something new every time you reach the end of a story and turn the page. Rapid-fire and heady!

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MIND MELD: Up And Coming Authors of The Last 5 Years

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This week’s question was inspired by the upcoming anthology Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, which features stories from “up and coming” authors beginning in the year 2000. We modified the question slightly and asked our panelists this question:

Q: Who do you believe are the “up and coming” authors of the past 5 years readers may not be aware of? What stories by these authors should readers consume?

Here’s what they said…



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MIND MELD: Optimistic Scenarios for Our Future World

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

You hear new stories every day: humans are ruining the planet. If we don’t do something now, we’ll certainly destroy the world for our children. Dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction is wildly popular, and for good reason! These scenarios, while bleak, are also exciting and offer the opportunities for lots of what-ifs. However, in the spirit of optimism, I wanted to explore some future scenarios that offer hope and a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: It’s not unusual to hear negative things about what the future might bring for the Earth and humankind, and dystopian narrative certainly makes for entertaining futuristic sci-fi scenarios (environmental disaster, overuse of technology, etc). In the spirit of optimism and hope, what are a few of your far future scenarios that speak to the possible positive aspects of our evolving relationship with our world?

Here’s what they said…

Brenda Cooper
Brenda Cooper is a technology professional, a science fiction writer and a futurist. She is the author of The Silver Ship and the Sea, Reading the Wind, Wings of Creation, Mayan December, and her newest novel, The Creative Fire, was just released by Pyr.

We are backing into Eden. I’ll actually be delivering a talk about this at the next World Future Society meeting in Chicago in the summer of 2013.

I have always been an optimist. It IS a little tough to pull that off right now, but there is still reason for hope. I know that climate change is a common topic, and you’ll get more than this post on it. But I do think we can get better at taking care of our world than we are now. The just-past election is one example. President Barak Obama mentioned climate change in his acceptance speech (after it had been off the radar all election). Here in Washington State, we just elected a rabidly pro-environment Governor, Jay Inslee. In fast, the US elected five people who are expected to drive change in this area. In addition to Jay, there are two new senators and two new congressional representatives who get it. Our city just passed a levy that funds, among other things, a program called Green Kirkland that is about support for our beautiful local environment. Katrina was a knock on the door. Sandy was a louder wake-up call.

The trick is that we are past the first tipping point – the climate is going to keep on warming even if we shut off all of the carbon spigots tomorrow. Success now looks like slowing and eventually stopping or even (maybe!) reversing the trends that are putting us in mortal danger right now. We caused a lot of this problem, and as ill-equipped as we are, we will have to help mitigate it. In addition to gaining at least some of the policymakers that we need, there is significant progress being made on important fronts: Electric cars, higher emission standards, more efficient buildings, green energy, better batteries. We are also gaining deeper understanding the world through big data modeling. We have the Internet. We have increasingly specific and high quality mapping and sensor nets. We can intervene on some levels, and we’re going to have to.

We have the communication tools to support what we’re going to need to do. If we could turn these tools to unseat bad governments all over the world last spring, and to occupy our own ill-behaved banking system, we can use the power of the Internet to spread ideas and action on climate. All we need is focus. Hurricane Sandy was a focus point. The heat waves were focusers. There will be more on the way. It will take some pain, some death, and a lot of action, but we can transform our relationship with the planet. That may leave us as the tenders of the garden in more ways than we want, but it is a path to success.

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MIND MELD: Ecological Science Fiction

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

The recent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio 2012 or Rio+20, where the heads of state of 192 governments discussed sustainable development and declared their commitment to the promotion of a sustainable future, has – even if for a short while – galvanized the media attention. Science fiction, however, has never turned its back on ecology, being a constant theme, growing strong particularly in the past few years, with authors ranging from the master ecothinker Kim Stanley Robinson to younger and prolific Paolo Bacigalupi, all focusing in strategies to survival of humankind under a grim scenario of climate change.

So, we asked this week’s panelists:

Q: With all the debates on global warming, the constant fear that we may be running scarce of basic resources such as potable water in the near future, what is science fiction’s role in this panorama? What are your favorite SFnal scenarios for problem-solving regarding the maintenance and sustainability of ecosystems, if any? Is there any scenario science fiction could be exploring better with relation to ecology?

Here’s what they said…

Tobias Buckell
Tobias S. Buckell was born in the Caribbean and lived on a yacht until he moved to the US. He writes science fiction. His latest novel, Arctic Rising, is out from Tor Books. He lives online at www.TobiasBuckell.com.

Is potable water really that huge of a threat, I wonder? I think my background actually plays into my answer here. I spent my high school years in exactly the sort of dystopia that people posit when talking about ‘peak water’ or ‘water wars.’ In St. Thomas, USVI, the sole spring doesn’t produce much in the way of potable water for the 150,000 or so people on the island at any given time (residents plus tourists). As a result, water is made using reverse osmosis from the ocean. There’s a lot of ocean in the world, well over some 1 billion cubic kilometers. What happens is price. The reverse osmosis system requires energy (in St. Thomas it’s diesel power, so the whole edifice of being able to drink there requires fossil fuels) to be created, and the cost of water I grew up using was $65 per 1,000 gallons, versus $1.50 in Ohio for the very same amount. I grew up with water costing 50 times what it does in the US. What does it do? Well, it changes your conservation behavior, for one. I remember reading in the papers that Californians were in a drought, and being told to limit their showers to ‘fifteen minutes’ and laughing. Who the hell took fifteen minute showers? That shit was expensive.

But even at over 50 times the cost, we didn’t don our Mad Max American Football-inspired leather uniforms and head out to do battle. There were water trucks, more conservation, more awareness of water use, and lots of clever human hacks around the situation (roofs that collected rain, cisterns, etc). People are clever.

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[GUEST REVIEW] Athena Andreadis Reviews Shine: An Anthology of Near-Future Optimistic Science Fiction, edited by Jetse de Vries

[Athena Andreadis was born in Greece and lured to the US at age 18 by a full scholarship to Harvard. She does basic research in molecular neurobiology, focusing on mental retardation and dementia. She is an avid reader in four languages across genres, is the author of To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek and writes speculative fiction and non-fiction on a wide swath of topics. Her work can be found in Strange Horizons, Crossed Genres, Science in My Fiction, H+ Magazine, The Huffington Post, and her own site, Starship Reckless.]

REVIEW SUMMARY: Optimistic near-future SF collection

RATING: absolute, in context

PROS: A welcome change from cyberpunk/urban noir adolescent gloom. Diverse in style and content, human/e in tone and scale.

CONS: Uneven, like all tightly themed collections; few truly memorable, trailblazing stories.

An editor who undertakes to compile an anthology of optimistic SF must toil up a steep and stony hill. It has become an article of increasing faith and fashion in contemporary SF that happy endings lack sophistication and hence are fit to appear only in such déclassé subgenre ghettoes as – horrors! -romance or squarish venues like Analog. Girls can squee, but manly geeks need their angst. Not surprisingly, this mindset mirrors the declining political and financial fortunes of the Anglosaxon First World. The attitude is so pervasive that it has trickled even into Hollywood, that lowest of common denominators: with the partial exception of Star Trek, there are no functioning post-scarcity quasi-utopian societies in movies and TV.

Into this breach stepped author and editor Jetse de Vries, who broadcast his intent to publish an SF anthology that was not only optimistic but also near-future. How do you say Cruisin’ for a bruisin’ in 22nd century Spandarin? But he persevered and Shine duly appeared, with a cover of a glowing lovely young Eurasian woman who reaches toward the reader with a beguiling half-smile… but lacks nipples and is surrounded by grim gunmetal-gray skyscrapers and smokestacks. Which is an accurate visual summary of the collection’s stories and their strengths and weaknesses.

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TOC: Shine, edited by Jetse de Vries

Editor Jetse de Vries has posted the table of contents of his upcoming anthology Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science-Fiction:

  1. “The Earth of Yunhe” by Eric Gregory
  2. “The Greenman Watches the Black Bar Go Up, Up, Up” by Jacques Barcia
  3. “Overhead” by Jason Stoddard
  4. “Summer Ice” by Holly Phillips
  5. “Sustainable Development” by Paula R. Stiles
  6. “The Church of Accelerated Redemption” by Gareth L. Powell & Aliette de Bodard
  7. “The Solnet Ascendancy” by Lavie Tidhar
  8. “Twittering the Stars” by Mari Ness
  9. “Seeds” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  10. “At Budokan” by Alastair Reynolds
  11. “Sarging Rasmussen: A Report by Organic” by Gord Sellar
  12. “Scheherazade Caught in Starlight” by Jason Andrew
  13. “Russian Roulette 2020″ by Eva Maria Chapman
  14. “Castoff World” by Kay Kenyon
  15. “Paul Kishosha’s Children” by Kenn Edgett
  16. “Ishin” by Madeline Ashby

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jetse de Vries

[Interviewer’s Note: This is a series of interviews featuring the contributors of The Apex Book of World SF edited by Lavie Tidhar. It’ll run every Monday to Friday until I run out of interviews. Two of these interviews will be reprinted in Apex Magazine but the rest are exclusive to SF Signal.]

Jetse de Vries is a technical specialist for a propulsion company by day, and an SF editor, writer and reader at night. He was part of the Interzone editorial team from March 2004 until September 2008. His non-fiction articles, reviews, essays and interviews have appeared in Interzone, The Fix, New York Review of Science Fiction, Focus, and others.

He writes SF since 1999, and had his first story published in November 2003. His stories have appeared in about two dozen publications on both sides of the Atlantic, and include Amityville House of Pancakes, vol. 1, JPPN 2, Nemonymous 4, Northwest Passages: A Cascadian Anthology, DeathGrip: Exit Laughing, HUB Magazine #2, Clarkesworld Magazine, SF Waxes Philosophical, Postscripts 14 and Flurb, amongst others. Recent reprints include stories in the A Mosque Among the Stars anthology (which portrays Islam and/or Muslims in a positive light), The Fleas They Carried (a relief anthology for animail aid) and The Apex Book of World SF (which celebrates SF from around the globe: upcoming November 2009). Right now, Jetse has an anthology of near future, optimistic SF called Shine coming up Solaris Books in April 2010, and edits the online gig DayBreak Magazine and Twitterzine @outshine.


Q: Hi Jetse! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how did you first become acquainted with speculative fiction? What’s the appeal of the genre for you?

My father was an avid SF reader so I got the speculative fiction bug from him. At the time I was also reading a lot of Dutch literature. Eventually SF won out because it has a much more adventurous appeal and has this feeling of really being open to unlimited possibilities. Having said that, though, I do like my exploratory and ground-breaking SF to be written with great verve and style, with a literary flavour, if you like.

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MIND MELD: Behind the Scenes…How the Hottest Short Fiction Anthologies Are Created (Part 2)

Short fiction anthologies come in many flavors: some contain original fiction and some are comprised of reprints; they can be themed or non-themed; they may restrict themselves to a certain sub-genre of speculative fiction… But one thing they all have in common is that it’s Editors that put them together.

Continuing from Part 1 last week, we asked a handful of Editors the following question:

Q: Can you describe what goes on behind the scenes – from conception to publication — when creating a short fiction anthology?

Read on to see their illuminating responses (and check out Part 3 when you’re done!) …

James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel
James Patrick Kelly is the author of a slew of novels and short stories including Burn, Look Into the Sun, Strange But Not A Stranger, Think Like A Dinosaur And Other Stories, and The Wreck of the Godspeed. His numerous short works include the Hugo Award-winning “Think Like A Dinosaur” and “Ten to the Sixteenth to One”. He is also co-editor with John Kessel of three anthologies: Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, and the upcoming The Secret History of Science Fiction. He also writes a column for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.
John Kessel teaches literature at North Carolina State University. He has published numerous books and short stories over the years and he is a Nebula Award winner for his story “Pride and Prometheus.” His latest book is the short story collection The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories. John is also co-editor with James Patrick Kelly of three anthologies: Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, and the upcoming The Secret History of Science Fiction.

We have edited three reprint anthologies; the genesis of each was different. Jacob Weisman at Tachyon Publications approached Jim to do a slipstream book and he enlisted John as his co-editor; the result was Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology. We proposed a book about post-cyberpunk and Jacob greenlighted Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. And it was Jacob and the perspicacious Bernie Goodman who suggested the idea for The Secret History Of Science Fiction; the book is due out next month.

We’ve a long history of collaboration and we’ve shared a similar vision for these reprint anthologies. In each of them we were trying to put forward an argument about the recent history of the genre. So we first had to gather our thoughts about slipstream and post-cyberpunk and the divide between mainstream and genre sf. Creating reprint anthologies like these involves figuring out what we think about a subject, or what we can credibly say about it. Selecting the stories has involved a couple of methods: (1) we decided on who we wanted in the book and then read intensively for stories that best illustrated our thesis, and (2) we decided what kind of stories we wanted and then cast the net widely to see who might have written the sort of thing we needed to support our thesis. In each of the books we have had some disagreements that have involved negotiations between us, and the final table of contents has been affected by practical considerations that made the end result different from our initial intentions.

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