Monday, May 01, 2006

A Long Haul To Infinity

I received the page proof for North of Infinity II from Mosaic Press mid last week. It’s funny, I’d gone over the manuscript dozens of times, yet it’s always that last printed copy in the final typeface and page layout where what are hopefully the final “bugs” are found and dealt with.

North of Infinity II will be coming out in Canada in mid June 2006. The release date in the U.S. is slated for September. It’s been a long haul to infinity as I moved from contributor to series editor.

The first book in the series came out in 1997 and was edited by a Micheal Magnini. When the second book in the series was announced, I sold a reprint story “From Out of the Night” to him back in late 1998/early 1999. The book was supposed to come out in late 1999/early 2000.

Having sold many stories over the years to markets that didn’t survive long enough to see my work in print, I’d pretty much abandoned the hope of ever seeing my story in NOI 2. I even went so far as to include my story “From Out of the Night” in the short story collection I’d published in 2004.

Then, just a few months before One Hand Screaming was released, conversations with Mosaic Press led to my agreeing to take over as editor of the science fiction series. As I looked through the stories that the original editor had selected before abandoning the project, I knew I needed a few more pieces to round out the collection. But I was also left with a dilemma: should I keep my own tale there? I’d always found it a bit suspicious whenever the editor of an anthology selects one of his or her own stories -- it’s certainly not for a lack of submissions to choose from. But I thought this case was different. I mean, after all, I hadn’t put it there myself. The original editor had selected it. I would just be leaving it in. That was a lesser evil.

I remember tossing the idea around among a few writer friends. Douglas Smith, an extremely talented writer, friend and co-contributor to NOI 2 (and someone with whom I’d exchanged countless “have you heard anything about NOI 2” queries before I took over as editor) put it in perspective. If my story had been an original, it would be a no-no. If it was a reprint, then that was fine. I liked that -- especially since it served the purposes of getting my story back into print.

So “From Out of the Night” was slated to be in NOI 2. And despite my reservations, I was okay with it. It was only during the finally assembly of the stories in which that changed. We needed to slightly trim down the anthology which was just a couple thousand words too long for the intended page count. My story ended up “on the cutting room floor” like so many of those movie scenes that might only appear later on in a “Director’s Cut” version of the movie.

But I actually feel a lot better about it. After passing judgement on so many editors who’d included their own work in an anthology, I wouldn’t have to be shamed with doing the very same thing, regardless of the circumstances that led to it.

And the collection itself is quite spectacular if I'm allowed to say so. I mean, I’ve only gotten through the page proofs of the first three stories so far, and I know I’ve read these tales countless times already, but these final hard copy printed pages are the first time that I’m starting to see it close to its final form and like a reader rather than editor (I’m looking mostly for typo’s rather than editing content, ensuring the stories placed near each other either play off one another, flow nicely or serve as refreshing contrasts in style and subject matter)

But I have to say I’m rather impressed and proud of the fact that it not only contains great stories from some of my favourite short story writers, but also includes several "first time sales" from some very talented sci-fi up and comers.


lime said...

well that's terrific. i'm so glad it's a work you feel comfortable with and proud of!

Zephyr said...

"...For one of the nicest things about mathematics, or anything else you might care to learn, is that many of the things which can never be, often are. You see it's very much like your trying to reach Infinity. You know that it's there, but you just don't know where-but just because you can never reach it doesn't mean that it's not worth looking for." --The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Here's hoping that your "Infinity" will be reached. Congratulations!

Sandy Hatcher-Wallace said...

That's great and I hope that you will remind us in the U.S. in September that it's being released, so we can read it.