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One question that comes up every time about anthologies is how do you choose a theme. So as I kickstart Beyond The Sun’s funding, I thought it might be good to explain a little bit about how the concept arose. Thanks to Larry for inviting me to guest post here.
Beyond The Sun has a simple concept: stories about space colonists interacting with alien planets and races far from home. It can be in our solar system or it can be across the galaxy. It can be funny, scary, dramatic, or somewhere in between. The only limitations are 3-7k word counts and family friendly content for a larger reach and to be accessible for classroom use.
First, the concept. I love exploration. I love to visit foreign countries, study cultures, languages, history. I love to immerse myself for the real experience. When I started studying Portuguese, I made plans to spend two weeks in Belo Horizonte, Brasil with a family who spoke no English. It sounds nuts. At first, it was hard and frustrating. Then we walked around and pointed to stuff and named it:
Me: Apple Host: Maca. Me: Flower. Host: Flor.
By the end of the two weeks, when I saw my Portuguese teacher, she was shocked. “OMG, you speak Portuguese. It worked!” (Let’s just forget how much this says about her confidence in me and focus on the positive,okay?) I had a real sense of accomplishment. And I’ve tried the same thing several times sense. Now I can pretty much get around Brasil without much help and communicate. It’s fun.
But the place I’ve always most wanted to explore is the stars. Ever since I was a child, I loved looking up at them, wondering what or who was out there? I reveled in watching each NASA mention, tracking details, imagining what it would be like to go myself. Even now, with privatization taking over for NASA, if I only had a spare $1 million, I’d sign up in a heartbeat, even if it cleaned out my account. Food? Rent? Meh. Later. I’m going “out there!” (In case you can’t tell, I don’t do anything half way…even sometimes stupidity. Ahem. Let’s focus on the positives.) The point is that space colonialism seems a natural fit and it’s something that inspires people to dream and feeds our natural wonder and sense of discovery, something NASA’s adventures used to do and I don’t want to se future generations lose.
So Beyond The Sun, meaning somewhere out there beyond our sun, is a great concept. It’s broad enough that people can create in a lot of different directions but just narrow enough that I can get stories which focus around a common theme. That gives a sense of oneness and unity to the enterprise. And that’s what a good anthology theme should do, in my opinion.
As for where the family friendly comes in. There’s a lot of nihilism in our genres today. Lots of violence, sex and language appropriate for adults, but not so much kids. Where’s the stuff a parent could hand to their kids and also enjoy reading so they could talk about it later? What are parents to do who want to share and pass ont heir lov of genre fiction to their kids? And since more and more, games and TV are replacing reading amongst kids, especially boys, how can teachers and parents encourage them to read? They need fun materials that stimulate kids to think, discover, and wonder while entertaining them at the same time.
That’s where Beyond The Sun comes in. No, it won’t be children’s literature. But it should be accessible to teens and adults and be the kind of thing they can share with each other with no content foibles. It’s got four multi-award winners: Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Nancy Kress, and a slew of up and coming award winners and nominees, too. You can see the whole list of invitees at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/601968027/beyond-the-sun-anthology. You can also sponsor it. We have lots of rewards and we can’t do it without you.
Remember that thing about never doing anything halfway? I won’t do it with this either. Writers and artists deserve to be paid and paid well. Since so many presses are struggling right now and since, despite hacing 8 published books and three years’ experience editing, I am not well known as an editor, getting a big publisher to fund this is very hard. So I want to package it, take it to a small press, let them help with marketing and the production costs, and put out a really fine quality product. Yes, I have money to self-publish if it comes to that and I will. But first, I want to make sure this gets the best chance for distribution and audience. Writers this good deserve to be read and kids in need of reminding that it’s okay to dream are everywhere.
Anyway, that’s how I came up with Beyond The Sun. I hope if the writers and concept excite you, you’ll help me make it a reality. Even $5 will help. Rewards include story critiques from award-winning pro-editor Jennifer Brozek or myself, collectible limited edition art, signed copies, tuckerization and more. Thanks again, Larry, for the invitation. And thanks to all of you readers and genre fans for your ongoing support of our creative endeavors. You’re why we do this.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Lost In A Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun,forthcoming. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.
djinn24 is a professional miniatures painter, with an equally strong love of books. His reviews are concise and critical. He’s definitely good at what he does.