Pretty in Pink?
Last year, Eclipse 4, (quite obviously the fourth entry in Strahan's excellently eclectic "Eclipse" series of anthologies) was pushed back from October to May of this year. I don't know if cause of the delay was ever fully explained but whatever the reason, I'm glad to know one of the few original anthology series will continue (at least through Eclipse 5).
As strange as it is to say, one of the strengths of the series is Strahan's refusal to pick a theme or at least his unwillingness to stick to one. Each book seems to be an almost random assortment of original work from strong genre writers, most of whom tend toward the literary end of the spectrum. My personal stance is that the Eclipse books are discovery anthologies. You won't love every story, not by a long shot - you might even hate a few. But there will also be a few that will surprise you, from writers you might never have heard of and which open your eyes to an new (or at least new to you) talent who will become one of your favorite authors.
As true as it may be, the seeming random end result doesn't keep Strahan from claiming to have had a strategy when he originally set out to build each anthology:
"What of Eclipse Four? In some ways it is the strangest and most eldritch volume yet. When I started work on it I intended it to be very much a sister volume to Eclipse Three, but like the wilful, living thing it is it insisted on being the book it would be, not an echo of its predecessor. During the nearly sixteen months I've been working on Eclipse Four writers have joined and left the book, have delievered and redelivered stories, and in some cases have moved from delivering one type of story to delivering another. In the end the fourteen stories [in Eclipse Four] range from tall tales to coming-of-age stories, move form the deep South to the outer reache sof our solar system, and approach everything from how we find love and happiness to how we cope with death and grief"Here's the full list of those 14 stories:
- Introduction - Jonathan Strahan
- "Slow as a Bullet" - Andy Duncan
- "Tidal Forces" - Caitlin R. Kiernan
- "The Beancounter's Cat" - Damien Broderick
- "Story Kit" - Kij Johnson
- "The Man in Grey" - Michael Swanwick
- "Old Habits" - Nalo Hopkinson
- "The Vicar of Mars" - Gwyneth Jones
- "Fields of Gold" - Rachel Swirsky
- "Thought Experiment" - Eileen Gunn
- "The Double of My Double Is Not My Double" - Jeffrey Ford
- "Nine Oracles" - Emma Bull
- "Dying Young" - Peter M. Ball
- "The Panda Coin" - Jo Walton
- "Tourists" - James Patrick Kelly
I can't say I'm especially excited for any particular story, except possibly Swirsky's "Fields of Gold" or Ford's "The Double of My Double Is Not My Double". Not because I doubt the others are good stories, more so that I am largely unfamiliar with the work of the remainder of that list. Many I know by reputation (Swanwick / Bull), others are entirely new to me (Ball / Broderick). All I can say for sure is that Strahan is an editor I trust and Eclipse 4 looks to be another melting pot of imagination, adventure, and discovery.
Eclipse 4 will black out the sun on May 17th from Night Shade Books.