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katycoachswim
06-30-2012, 09:20 AM
Trying to remember an Asimov short story. It centered on a dying man, I think in california, who wanted to see snow one last time before he died. A spaceship went to the sun, it had a special heat shield, and could dive into the interior of the sun changing the way the sun's contents circulated or operated. After diving into the interior of the sun and almost becoming destroyed, space ship crew accomplished its task, and was able to change the output of the sun's radiation which changed the weather on the earth. And the old dying man in california, I think, got his wish and saw snow before he died. Does any of that sound familiar to anyone?

DrFidelius
06-30-2012, 09:39 AM
Probably not Asimov, but most likely in one of the anthologies he collected. The weather bureau had to be hacked to allow snow...

Let me look.

DrFidelius
06-30-2012, 09:44 AM
Got it.
Theodore L Thomas' "The Weather Man"
http://everythingisnice.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/the-weather-man-by-theodore-l-thomas/

Found in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov_Presents_The_Great_SF_Stories_24_%281962%29

Exapno Mapcase
06-30-2012, 10:03 AM
Probably not Asimov, but most likely in one of the anthologies he collected.

collected lent his name to.

Marty Greenberg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_H._Greenberg) and his crew did all the work. Asimov wrote an introduction and put his name on it for bigger sales. A happy arrangement all around.

katycoachswim
06-30-2012, 07:17 PM
Got it.
Theodore L Thomas' "The Weather Man"
http://everythingisnice.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/the-weather-man-by-theodore-l-thomas/

Found in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov_Presents_The_Great_SF_Stories_24_%281962%29

Amazingly rapid response! Now I have to go to the library! Many thanks, Dr F!

Andy L
06-30-2012, 08:45 PM
collected lent his name to.

Marty Greenberg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_H._Greenberg) and his crew did all the work. Asimov wrote an introduction and put his name on it for bigger sales. A happy arrangement all around.

I think Asimov had some input into which stories were selected - Marty did all the hard work of arranging for rights, etc., though. The "big-name" factor was certainly important, though - Pohl tells the story of when a publisher brought out "The Early Pohl" and "The Early Asimov" collections - Pohl got full royalties from "The Early Pohl" because they were all his stories, after all, but he also got a small percentage of "The Early Asimov" royalties, because Pohl co-wrote two of Asimov's early stories. Poor Pohl consistently got more money from the small percentage of the "Early Asimov" royalties than he did from all of the "Early Pohl" royalties http://www.thewaythefutureblogs.com/2010/07/basement-and-empire-afterwords/

RealityChuck
06-30-2012, 11:13 PM
According to Charles Waugh, a frequent co-editor, the process was:

1. Greenberg would pitch an idea to an editor.
2. If accepted, he would bring in Waugh, who had a database (on 3 x 5 cards) of stories categorized by theme. Waugh would put together a list of possible stories.
3. The list was sent to Asimov, who chose which stories would go into the anthology.
4. Greenberg would contact the authors about the rights. If he had problems, he'd ask Asimov for additional choices from Waugh's list (or Waugh would dig deeper into his index cards).

So Asimov was clearly more than just a figurehead, thoug Greenberg did most of the work.

Fenris
07-01-2012, 06:47 AM
My understanding is that Asimov did occasionally push for oddball, non-famous stories that he liked/remembered--and those non-famous, forgotten gems really improve the books tremendously.

He also fairly informative "the history of the year in science fiction" introductions for each book and wrote spoiler-filled introductions to each story, and as his health declined in the later ones, he slipped into increasingly weird and sometimes strident rants to both sets of introductions.
It's still the best year-by-year anthology series ever done, IMO. Far better than Wollheim's and/or Dozios's. Blier & Ditkey's (I'm misspelling everyone's names!) did a kind of short series (maybe 8 years) in the late 40s/early 50s that was fantastic.

Wendell Wagner
07-01-2012, 08:58 AM
Fenris, it appears that you're only talking about one series among the many anthologies that Asimov put his name on. You say that he wrote "history of the year in science fiction" introductions. This could only apply to The Great SF Stories anthologies, which were the only ones where each volume was confined to a single year. But of course Asimov's name appeared on a hundred or so anthologies, and The Great SF Stories were only twenty-five of them. On this webpage are a list of all the anthologies his name appeared on.

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?5

Incidentally, here are all the places that the story "The Weather Man" appears:

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?55492

It's likely that the easiest place to find the story if someone wants to read it is in the anthology The Ascent of Wonder. In my experience, The Great SF Stories anthologies are not easy to find. I've been trying for some time to find them all, but I still haven't found volumes 20 and 24 at a reasonable price. Note that volume 24 is the one that contains the story "The Weather Man".

Exapno Mapcase
07-01-2012, 11:48 AM
According to Charles Waugh, a frequent co-editor, the process was:

1. Greenberg would pitch an idea to an editor.
2. If accepted, he would bring in Waugh, who had a database (on 3 x 5 cards) of stories categorized by theme. Waugh would put together a list of possible stories.
3. The list was sent to Asimov, who chose which stories would go into the anthology.
4. Greenberg would contact the authors about the rights. If he had problems, he'd ask Asimov for additional choices from Waugh's list (or Waugh would dig deeper into his index cards).

So Asimov was clearly more than just a figurehead, thoug Greenberg did most of the work.
I've read differing versions of Asimov's role over the years and it's possible, even likely, that he did more or less work depending on the nature of the anthology and his personal interest in it. The Great SF Stories series was among the first anthologies he worked on with Greenberg and I can see him arguing the subject. Probably a lot less so by the time he got to things like Senior Sleuths: A Large Print Anthology of Mysteries and Puzzlers.

I feel he legitimately produced an astounding number of very high quality books all by himself. That he felt he had to pad his numbers with 100 books that other people did all the heavy lifting for is unfortunate. That he left the impression that these were his work rather than the work of Greenberg and his team is madly misleading. It's a small correction in light of his overall incredible career but it bugs me.

Far better than Wollheim's and/or Dozios's. Blier & Ditkey's (I'm misspelling everyone's names!) did a kind of short series (maybe 8 years) in the late 40s/early 50s that was fantastic.
I have a totally unusual, maybe unique, introduction to the genre. My library had very little in the way of sf novels in the early 60s. I did read some of the YA stuff, but I never thought of them as a big deal. YA writers in other genres were much more appealing to me and I thought were of much higher quality.

The one thing the library had was a freestanding, four-sided rack of short stories and anthologies. And one side (or maybe half a side) was devoted to sf best-of-the-year anthologies. I read them all. And that hooked me on the field. I didn't get there by reading Doc Smith. I read Tom Swift but the hardy Boys were better. I didn't watch any of the 50s sf movies. I got into the field by reading the cream of the crop of short stories, from a time when short stories were the field. That scars a kid's brain for life.

Anyway, to give credit and proper spelling where it's due, they included:

Everett F. Bleiler and T. E. (Ted) Ditky's The Best Science Fiction Stories 1949-1954. (They also did half a dozen other anthologies).

Judith Merill's SF: The Year's Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy (and other variant titles) 1956-1968. These were probably my favorites. She included both contemporary sf from the magazines and sf and sf-like stories from mainstream publications. Her anthologies were by far the most literary.

John W. Campbell did an irregular series of anthologies from Astounding in the 50s and then started one from Analog in 1963.

The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction 1952 on, first by Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas, then by Boucher alone, then Robert P. Mills, then Avram Davidson, then Edward L. Ferman.

H. L. Gold did six Galaxy Readers from 1952 to 1962.

Donald A. Wollheim with Terry Carr, both working for Ace at the time, started their World's Best Science Fiction series in 1965, but those were paperback and paperbacks were not considered library fare.

The Nebula Awards series started in 1965, each edited by a different Big Name.

There were other one-shots and attempts at series but those were probably the major ones I would have seen during high school. By the end of that time I was regularly buying paperbacks and magazines that the library wouldn't carry.

Gardner Dozois started his The Year's Best Science Fiction Series in 1984. By that time SF was a major publishing category and there have been bajillions of year's best anthologies since.

Andy L
07-01-2012, 01:04 PM
H. L. Gold did six Galaxy Readers from 1952 to 1962.



I recently read one of those, and discovered that it was apparently one of the books that I used to read at my local library on the way home from 7th grade - the library was between the school, and home, and thus a convenient place to stop and read for a while (at least once, "for a while" meant, "until my father found me there, still reading, completely oblivious to the time"). Great stories...

Thudlow Boink
07-01-2012, 01:15 PM
FWIW I found a couple of references in Asimov's autobiography In Joy Still Felt describing his role in early anthologies he worked on:
I had suggested an anthology of science fiction short-shorts to Groff Conklin. Groff had agreed enthusiastically, and together we selected fifty of them. We had agreed that I would write the Introduction and he would do the paperwork.[Martin H. Greenberg and Joseph Olander] had conceived the project of preparing an anthology of a hundred short-short science fiction pieces (twice the number that Groff Conklin and I had anthologized fifteen years before), and they wanted me in on it. The would provide Xerox copies of perhaps twice the necessary number; I would weed out the best and write blurbs and an overall introduction.

Fenris
07-01-2012, 03:13 PM
Judith Merill's SF: The Year's Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy (and other variant titles) 1956-1968. These were probably my favorites. She included both contemporary sf from the magazines and sf and sf-like stories from mainstream publications. Her anthologies were by far the most literary
Heh...which is why they're probably my least favorite. I don't hate them or anything, but I tend to not like "literary" sf all that much. I like some of her oddball choices though.



Gardner Dozois started his The Year's Best Science Fiction Series in 1984. By that time SF was a major publishing category and there have been bajillions of year's best anthologies since.
But only Dozois and Hartwell* have been in it for the long haul. Dozois is up to either #29 or #30 and Hartwell is up to like #17. And while there's some overlap between the two, Hartwell likes space-opera-ish SF more than Dozois and Dozois likes the literary stuff a bit more than Hartwell, so there's not as much overlap as you'd think.

Also, Groff Conklin is pretty much forgotten nowdays by modern readers, but I really like his anthologies. I know he ground out a ton of them later on, but his earlier huge-sized ones seemed to be themed on "Stuff I, Groff Conklin, personally like. Deal with it." and he and I have similar tastes apparently. :)



*I knew there was one other! :)

Exapno Mapcase
07-01-2012, 06:14 PM
But only Dozois and Hartwell* have been in it for the long haul. Dozois is up to either #29 or #30 and Hartwell is up to like #17.
Anthologies just don't sell well. And you don't need too many bests of the year, because either they repeat too much or get too idiosyncratic.

Of course there's more to the field than "science fiction."

Rich Horton - who literally reads everything - has been in the game since 2006. He did separate bests for science fiction and fantasy (and space opera in 2007) then couldn't sell them for 2009 and so combined them into a f&sf anthology. And Paula Guran has done a Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror for three years.

There were many long term series. Ellen Datlow did 21 of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror with various co-editors before it died. The Year's Best Horror Stories went for 22 years. The Year's Best Fantasy Stories lasted 14 years. Hartwell and Cramer - they're married so they need co-crediting - have also done a Year's Best Fantasy for 9 years.

With only a tiny few major magazines left, the good editors are the ones who somehow get their hands on all the dozens or hundreds of small press, internet only, mainstream, little magazine, one-shot, chapbook, original collection, or carved onto bark and scattered across Pinterest venues that stories appear in. It's a thankless task, considering the wheat to chaff ratio.

Fenris
07-01-2012, 08:31 PM
With only a tiny few major magazines left, the good editors are the ones who somehow get their hands on all the dozens or hundreds of small press, internet only, mainstream, little magazine, one-shot, chapbook, original collection, or carved onto bark and scattered across Pinterest venues that stories appear in. It's a thankless task, considering the wheat to chaff ratio.

Absolutely true.

Hell, the most recent new discovery for me that really, really blew me away was Tim Pratt (with Impossible Dreams) and that was about 2007 or so.

Used to be that I'd "discover" a new author who's stuff I loved once or twice a year. Now, I'm lucky if it's once every four or five years.

I'd read (and I don't know how true this is) that Roger Elwood had a role in the declining sales of anthologies. Allegedly (the story goes), anthologies used to sell very well, but for about a decade, from the early '70s to the early '80s, Elwood ground out a zillion schlock anthologies where he'd just cram stuff from the slushpile that vaguely fit his theme. He lasted long enough and produced so much that an entire generation of SF fans learned not to buy anthologies. I doubt it's that simple, but from the Elwood anthologies I've seen, there could easily be a grain of truth in it.

Fenris
07-01-2012, 09:09 PM
BTW: Thanks for the heads up for Rich Horton's anthologies. I just bought a few from Amazon.

Exapno Mapcase
07-01-2012, 10:26 PM
I'd read (and I don't know how true this is) that Roger Elwood had a role in the declining sales of anthologies. Allegedly (the story goes), anthologies used to sell very well, but for about a decade, from the early '70s to the early '80s, Elwood ground out a zillion schlock anthologies where he'd just cram stuff from the slushpile that vaguely fit his theme. He lasted long enough and produced so much that an entire generation of SF fans learned not to buy anthologies. I doubt it's that simple, but from the Elwood anthologies I've seen, there could easily be a grain of truth in it.

Yeah, that used to get said a lot, back when people recognized Elwood's name. I have no idea how much credence to put into it. It's true that Elwood overwhelmed the anthology market for a while - 42 anthologies in 3 years! (1973-1975) And it's true that people who get turned off by crappy products will apply that dislike across the board. SF as a field is a prime example. OTOH, he flourished for just those three years, not for over a decade. (He did 20 others before and after, but those were spread over 12 years, the last in 1978. The first sf books I ever bought were his second anthology, Invasion of the Robots, 1965, and a book bought just for the title, Ellison Wonderland.) Would three years be enough to kill a market without his name in it? Maybe, but generations of readers are very short. True fans are in it for a lifetime, but nobody can depend on true fans for a majority of sales.

And the next question that needs to be asked is: how does anyone know this fact? Nobody in publishing does market surveys. Nobody ever asked me whether I did or didn't buy anthologies and for what reasons, and I'm sure nobody ever asked you either. People "know" things in publishing a lot, but nobody's ever told me how they know what they think they know.

Rich Horton has good taste, but he's also fair about his likes and dislikes and can use his judgment to say that work is good even if it's not his style. Much more than I can, to be sure. :p

Wendell Wagner
07-01-2012, 10:48 PM
Roger Elwood probably wasn't the cause of the gradual decline in the number of anthologies. He contracted for too many anthologies in 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975. He also edited anthologies in 1964 through 1971 and in 1976 through 1978, but those years were at a sustainable pace:

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?800

There was simply no way to obtain enough good stories in the years 1972 through 1975 to fill all the anthologies he was editing in addition to all the other magazines and anthologies that existed then. Soon readers figured out the average quality of stories in his anthologies wasn't very good, and writers figured out that it would be better to submit their work first to other outlets. Publishers then quit giving Elwood contracts for anthologies. By 1980 the science fiction market had recovered from the effects of Elwood.

Elendil's Heir
07-03-2012, 12:01 AM
Got it.
Theodore L Thomas' "The Weather Man"....

I remember that story! The dying man was instrumental in inventing weather control in the first place, IIRC, so his Weather Congressman (no lobbying, please, or you'll be escorted from the premises) was willing to indulge him. Not a bad story.

Exapno Mapcase
07-03-2012, 10:40 AM
Roger Elwood probably wasn't the cause of the gradual decline in the number of anthologies. He contracted for too many anthologies in 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975. He also edited anthologies in 1964 through 1971 and in 1976 through 1978, but those years were at a sustainable pace:

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?800

There was simply no way to obtain enough good stories in the years 1972 through 1975 to fill all the anthologies he was editing in addition to all the other magazines and anthologies that existed then. Soon readers figured out the average quality of stories in his anthologies wasn't very good, and writers figured out that it would be better to submit their work first to other outlets. Publishers then quit giving Elwood contracts for anthologies. By 1980 the science fiction market had recovered from the effects of Elwood.
I'm going to mostly disagree with this.

First, several of those anthologies were short books aimed at the school markets, part of the Lerner SF Library. A few others were also aimed at specialty audiences, such as the Christian market. (Elwood was very devote and did a lot of work there.)

Second, the rest were fairly evenly divided between reprints of classic stories and new collections of stories written especially for the volume. There was no shortage of classic stories: a half dozen anthologies a year wouldn't come close to exhausting the supply. The new stories wouldn't have killed the market either, especially since they were aimed at several submarkets. Look at the titles about vampires and monsters and horror.

In the three years I mentioned (he only did four anthologies in 1972) F&SF published a dozen issues a year. So did Analog. Amazing and Fantastic alternated months. I think Galaxy and If were monthlies, but one might have been bi-monthly by that time. And there were others lurking around the edges.

It's true that all the top writers were sending their stuff to Orbit, New Dimensions, and Universe - all original anthology series. There were others as well. And a few other stabs and one-shots. The Last Dangerous Visions vacuumed up huge amounts of stuff that nobody will ever see.

But this was the peak of the sf genre as a market. There may have been fewer literal titles than in the 50s when there were almost 50 at any given time, but those were often filled with pseudonyms of a few writers. Writing machines like Randall Garrett and Robert Silverberg are said to have filled entire issues by themselves. The number of writers entering the field in the 1970s was huge and it was thought possible for the time ever that more than a bare handful could make their living writing sf. It had room for a story of mine but I doubt that I scared off more than few dozen from ever reading sf again.

My bottom line is that it's doubtful that Roger Elwood could have destroyed the market by adding on no more than 50 extra stories a year to the several hundreds that were already being published, even if they were all awful. And they weren't. Look at the contents for Ten Tomorrows (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?34741) or Future City (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?14866) or Showcase (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?30361), all of whom made the list in the 1974 Locus Poll for Best Original Anthology.

It's possible that Elwood may have alienated publishers by oversaturation - they tend to not like someone doing essentially the same work for their competitors. I can't find any good evidence that he bottomed out the market so readers wouldn't read. He might at worst have added a bit of weight to a bucket that would have been overfilling without him, but I'd need to see something more than opinion to condemn him out of hand.

Wendell Wagner
07-03-2012, 08:18 PM
Exapno Mapcase, could you explain to me in what sense you're disagreeing with me? What you say in posts #17 and #20 doesn't seem to disagree in any significant way with what I say in post #18. You may be reading more into my post than is there.

MrDurden
07-03-2012, 09:16 PM
While we're in this thread....

I faintly remember a collection of short stories and in one of my favorites there was a husband and wife with two 'kids' one of them was an android child who was sweet and loving and the other one a real human who was a horrible kid and a fire happened and well... you can guess which one the wife saved.

I can't remember the name of it, nor can I remember the finer plot points. I'd like to reread this and the others in the collection. Anyone have any ideas?

Elendil's Heir
07-03-2012, 09:58 PM
Doesn't ring a bell, but reminds me a bit of the movie A.I.

Exapno Mapcase
07-03-2012, 10:05 PM
There was simply no way to obtain enough good stories in the years 1972 through 1975 to fill all the anthologies he was editing in addition to all the other magazines and anthologies that existed then. Soon readers figured out the average quality of stories in his anthologies wasn't very good, and writers figured out that it would be better to submit their work first to other outlets. Publishers then quit giving Elwood contracts for anthologies. By 1980 the science fiction market had recovered from the effects of Elwood.

Exapno Mapcase, could you explain to me in what sense you're disagreeing with me? What you say in posts #17 and #20 doesn't seem to disagree in any significant way with what I say in post #18. You may be reading more into my post than is there.

A) He didn't buy all that many stories in the first place compared to the overall size of the market. B) Many of the stories he did buy were first rate. (And I didn't even mention the major Epoch anthology because it was co-edited by Silverberg. That took first place in the Locus poll of 1976.) C) Major writers submitted work to him all the time.

Those are all factual statements. You also make some claims that I don't have facts on but wonder about. D) I don't know what readers thought. How do you claim to know? E) I don't know why or even if publishers stopped giving him contracts. He might have given up the workload if it didn't produce enough returns. How do you claim to know? F) In what way did the market recover by 1980? How was 1980 any different from 1976?

Seems to me that I have plenty of disagreement with you. You are, admittedly, stating the general wisdom, but my point from the beginning was that I never understood what basis in fact that had.

Chronos
07-03-2012, 11:57 PM
While we're in this thread....

I faintly remember a collection of short stories and in one of my favorites there was a husband and wife with two 'kids' one of them was an android child who was sweet and loving and the other one a real human who was a horrible kid and a fire happened and well... you can guess which one the wife saved.

I can't remember the name of it, nor can I remember the finer plot points. I'd like to reread this and the others in the collection. Anyone have any ideas? That was definitely an Asimov, but I can't remember the title, and nothing from The Rest of the Robots seems to match.

Rala
07-04-2012, 02:22 AM
While we're in this thread....

I faintly remember a collection of short stories and in one of my favorites there was a husband and wife with two 'kids' one of them was an android child who was sweet and loving and the other one a real human who was a horrible kid and a fire happened and well... you can guess which one the wife saved.

I can't remember the name of it, nor can I remember the finer plot points. I'd like to reread this and the others in the collection. Anyone have any ideas?

That's "Kid Brother". I read it in Gold (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/438743.Gold).

Wendell Wagner
07-04-2012, 09:11 AM
First, Exapno Mapcase, note that you only quoted my second paragraph, which I thought was obviously the less important part of the point I was making. The first paragraph was the real heart of what I was saying, which was that he had no longterm effect because his anthologies were a significant part of the market only for three or maybe four years. So that's why I don't think that you're disagreeing with me in any significant way. So what do you mean by saying that you mostly disagree with me?

Second, let's go through the years for Elwood's anthologies:

1964 1
1965 1
1966 1
1967 1
1968 1
1969 3
1970 1
1971 1
1972 4
1973 15
1974 20
1975 7
1976 3
1977 2
1978 1

What proportion of the science fiction market were his anthologies over his busy period? I would say that twenty anthologies in one year were a lot of it. Do you have some exact figures for this? The Wikipedia entry says that at one point his anthologies were a quarter of the market:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Elwood

I never said that he didn't publish some first-rate stories. Of course he did, and I would have mentioned that if I had chosen to write at a little more length. What I said was that the average quality of the stories wasn't very good. That's quite a different statement.

I was one of those readers back then, and I remember hearing it discussed that the anthologies weren't very good on average. The comments on his anthologies in the Wikipedia entry were typical of what I heard. I presume that the publishers must have caught on to this, since after 1975 they only published six more of his anthologies. I wonder if those anthologies were ones contracted before and only published later.

I didn't say that writers quit submitting to him. I said that they only submitted to him after other markets. That's also quite a different statement.

Do you have some figures on the number of anthologies published each year before and after Elwood?

The Wikipedia entry quotes from Teresa Neilsen Hayden on Elwood. She says that it appears that the reason that his anthologies didn't have very good stories on average was that he went out of his way to pick unpublished or little published authors. She says that it appears that he paid so little that better authors didn't want to submit to him.

The Wikipedia entry also talks about his founding of Laser Books on the model of Harlequin Books but for science fiction. That didn't last long either. He was also criticized for that.

Fenris
07-04-2012, 09:48 AM
A more complete quote from Teresa Neilsen Hayden
What’s safe to say is that there are no very creditable explanations for his flood of anthologies in the mid-1970s; that the publishers who bought them would never have done so if they’d had any idea that he was carpet-bombing SF publishing with anthology projects; that many of his anthologies (if not all the stories in them) were well below par in terms of their quality; and that the subsequent collapse of the anthology and story-collection market did long-term damage to science fiction as a whole.

From here (http://www.jonathanstrahan.com.au/wp/2006/02/16/roger-elwood-and-the-anthology-market/)

As an aside, didn't Piers Anthony sue the crap out of Elwood for "butchering" one of Anthony's novels (by adding a co-author without Anthony's consent) for Laser books? Heh...except for his first two or three Xanth novels*, how could you tell if someone "butchered" Anthony's prose. ;)


*And let's give credit where credit is due, Anthony pretty much single-handedly broke the idea that had been pushed by Lin Carter and his (wonderful) Adult Fantasy series for Ballantine that Fantasy novels had to be High Art (note that out of roughly 70 novels in the line, only one (Land of Unreason) is outright humor and "light" fantasy, and maybe a few others (the Kai Lung stuff, and depending on your tastes the James Branch Cabell stuff) is even funny. There's nothing wrong with that, but Lin Carter set the tone for fantasy for maybe 10 years ('65-'75-ish) and Anthony broke through that idea and showed that there was a market for lighter, funny fantasy. (The real credit though, goes to Judy-Lynn DelRey for publishing it. I miss her stuff--used to be that from about '75-'85, any book I picked up from Del Rey was guaranteed to be something I'd enjoy)

Exapno Mapcase
07-04-2012, 12:42 PM
Wendell, I've said more than once already that yours is the conventional viewpoint. It's a subjective viewpoint, though, which makes disputing it near impossible. The only way I can poke at it is through the numbers to see if they match up.

I'm not interested enough in the issue to go through every anthology and magazine of the day doing counts. But the field of sf is full of obsessives, and much of the info has been compiled by others.

In particular, I can point you to a blog posting (http://www.jonathanstrahan.com.au/wp/2006/02/16/more-on-elwood/) by Johnathan Strahan, specifically commenting on the Wiki entry by Teresa Neilsen Hayden.

He lists the number of original and reprint anthologies every year from 1941 to 2004 and shows how many of them were by Elwood. (Info provided by Bill Contento, who is an expert among experts.) Did Elwood kill the market? Well, there was a slight dip in original anthologies but the bigger dip didn't start until 1982. That's hard to place on Elwood's shoulders.

And Strahan doesn't do one thing he should: break Elwood's anthologies into original, youth, and reprint.

Take Elwood's peak year of 1974. Elwood put out 21 original anthologies and only two reprints. But eight of those were the 48 page books aimed at the children's market. If you subtract those, Elwood put out 13 and everybody else put out 19. So Elwood had less than half of the adult anthology market and none of the magazine market.

Normally you cannot get me to regard The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction with anything less than awe. I know very well what a totally gob-stopping amount of work was required for it. More than most. I wrote several dozen entries for a competing project that never saw print. And never paid me. Still, anything that large must contain a few mistakes. And one major one appears in the Wiki article which quotes it as saying that "At one time it was estimated that Roger Elwood alone constituted about one quarter of the total market for SF short stories."

This can't be true. His total output for his peak year was about equal to any one of the monthly sf magazines. And there were were several small magazines that appeared and disappeared. Vertex was around that time. Science Fiction Monthly in Britain debuted around then. The men's magazines always picked up a number of sf stories: Playboy printed big names and several writers got their starts in the Playboy imitators. Plus, again, he was less than half of the original anthology market itself.

Strahan casts many doubts on Hayden's argument in his article. The subjective elements are harder to refute but one thing should be noted. Hayden wasn't there. She was too young. She entered the professional editorial ranks many years later, when Elwood was a vanished and legendary figure.

I'm perfectly wiling to believe that Elwood wasn't a great guy or a great editor or a great contributor to the field. I'm focusing on the statement that he killed the anthology market. I'll concede that maybe publishers felt subjectively that they had been burned and drew back. But whenever I look at the numbers I can't find any evidence. The number of non-Elwood original anthologies went from 19 in 1974 to 16 in 1975 and up to 30 in 1976 and 29 in 1977. Some death.

Wendell Wagner
07-04-2012, 01:20 PM
But I wasn't supporting the conventional viewpoint. The conventional viewpoint is that Elwood killed the anthology market in the long run. My point was that wasn't true. The Strahan blog makes it clearer than I did. Not only didn't Elwood depress the number of anthologies for a few years after the peak of his editing (up to 1979, I guessed), but he didn't even depress the number of anthologies (if you subtract his anthologies) for the period of his peak and the few years afterwards. Here are the number of anthologies that Elwood didn't edit for each year:

Year---Number of Non-Elwood Anthologies
1941: 1
1942: 1
1943: 3
1944: 1
1945: 3
1946: 6
1947: 3
1948: 3
1949: 7
1950: 9
1951: 16
1952: 19
1953: 28
1954: 31
1955: 21
1956: 11
1957: 6
1958: 18
1959: 16
1960: 16
1961: 15
1962: 25
1963: 38
1964: 34
1965: 41
1966: 52
1967: 39
1968: 52
1969: 45
1970: 52
1971: 73
1972: 52
1973: 75
1974: 77
1975: 70
1976: 79
1977: 86
1978: 69
1979: 75
1980: 82
1981: 74
1982: 67
1983: 62
1984: 66
1985: 85
1986: 92
1987: 109
1988: 127
1989: 132
1990: 137
1991: 147
1992: 126
1993: 120
1994: 142
1995: 157
1996: 141
1997: 146
1998: 142
1999: 106
2000: 114
2001: 123
2002: 128
2003: 147
2004: 129

So if I was wrong about anything, it was about the fact that Elwood had any effect on the anthology market at all. In so far as I was agreeing with the conventional viewpoint, I was saying that Elwood might have had some effect for a few years, but he didn't have a long-term effect. Now that I look at the numbers above, it appears that he had very little effect.

Andy L
07-04-2012, 05:24 PM
As an aside, didn't Piers Anthony sue the crap out of Elwood for "butchering" one of Anthony's novels (by adding a co-author without Anthony's consent) for Laser books? Heh...except for his first two or three Xanth novels*, how could you tell if someone "butchered" Anthony's prose. ;)



"But What of Earth" - he later published it in the original form, with editor's comments http://incarnations.wikia.com/wiki/Piers_Anthony

Lust4Life
07-07-2012, 03:13 PM
Sorry but must comment on some of the "up posts".

Personally I was introduced to SF by reading an uncles collection of pulp magazines back in the 60s, though the mags were quite a bit older.

I was totally hooked, the ideas were often completely original; and commented on society, astro physics, history and god knows what else.

They were truly original and thought provoking.

But genuine SF died the death several decades ago, its Space Opera now, todays ideas and science dressed up in futuristic garb.

Call me a reactionary if you will, but when people start mentioning names from the post 2000 I reach for my shotgun.

The only decent IMO, writer now is Banks, and he's incredibly imaginative but sucks at completing stories.

Lynn Bodoni
07-07-2012, 03:19 PM
But genuine SF died the death several decades ago, its Space Opera now, todays ideas and science dressed up in futuristic garb. Vernor Vinge.

Wendell Wagner
07-07-2012, 03:58 PM
Lust4Life, I'm not a moderator, and I'm not claiming that I have any say on what can or can't be discussed in a thread. However, your post doesn't seem to have much to do with anything previously mentioned in this thread other than the fact that it's about science fiction. In particular, no names of authors whose writings were mostly post-2000 were mentioned at all in this thread, so I don't understand what your comment about such authors has to do with this thread. The points you mention in your post are interesting, but I suspect that you'll get a better response if you start a new thread about the quality of recent science fiction as opposed to older science fiction.