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September 9, 2013

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction
Posted by Patrick at 08:40 AM * 31 comments

21stC-SF.jpg Edited by David G. Hartwell and me, a 576-page reprint anthology, coming from Tor on November 5, 2013, and in the UK, from Constable & Robinson on November 21.

“A bumper crop of 34 stories from authors who first came to prominence in the 21st century, compiled by two of the most highly respected editors in the business….Grab this book. Whether newcomer or old hand, the reader will not be disappointed.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
From our preface to the volume:
That phrase “came to prominence” explains our approach. Many writers publish their first work long before they come to general attention. William Gibson exploded into the consciousness of science fiction, and then the world, with Neuromancer in 1984, but he had been publishing short fiction for years before that. Likewise, there are writers in this volume whose first stories appeared as early as the 1980s, but nobody in this book came to wide notice before 2000.

The idea of an anthology showcasing the SF voices of the new century seemed like a natural project for the two of us. Our tastes are not identical, but we can fairly well agree on good writers and good stories. And we are both students of the history of SF without holding all the same opinions about it. Neither of us is especially interested in being genre policemen, dictating what is and isn’t proper SF. And yet, both of us emerge from the core SF audience of the twentieth century—the SF subculture, professional and fannish, that emerged from the earnest and urgent desire to defend and encourage quality SF in the face of a dominant culture that seemed to hold it in contempt. Decades later, many of the battles of those days have been won. Others have become irrelevant. One of the interesting things about the stories presented here is that they were written in a world in which SF, far from being marginal, is a firmly established part of the cultural landscape.

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction contains stories by Vandana Singh, Charles Stross, Paolo Bacigalupi, Neal Asher, Rachel Swirsky, John Scalzi, M. Rickert, Tony Ballantyne, David Levine, Genevieve Valentine, Ian Creasey, Marissa Lingen, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, David Moles, Mary Robinette Kowal, Madeleine Ashby, Tobias Buckell, Ken Liu, Oliver Morton, Karl Schroeder, Brenda Cooper, Liz Williams, Ted Kosmatka, Catherynne M. Valente, Daryl Gregory, Alaya Dawn Johnson, James Cambias, Yoon Ha Lee, Hannu Rajaniemi, Kage Baker, Peter Watts, Jo Walton, and Cory Doctorow.

Now open for pre-order as a hardcover or an e-book from the usual retailers.

UPDATE: From Publishers Weekly, September 9, 2013, signed review by Gardner Dozois:

In my more than 40 years working in the science fiction publishing industry, I’ve seen this notion crop up every 10 years or so: ‘Science fiction has exhausted itself. There are no good new writers coming along anymore. The genre is finished!’

Tor editors Hartwell and Nielsen Hayden thoroughly refute such claims….Twenty-First Century Science Fiction will certainly be recognized as one of the best reprint science fiction anthologies of the year, and it belongs in the library of anyone who is interested in the evolution of the genre.

PW reviews are usually three to five column inches long, on a three-column page, and unsigned. This signed review, detailed and generous, takes up two-thirds of a page. I’m still kind of agog.
Comments on Twenty-First Century Science Fiction:
#1 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 09:17 AM:

Is there a table of contents for this somewhere?

#2 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 10:24 AM:

*stares at that lineup in awe*

That's pretty much a hop, skip, and a jump away from my Favorite Current Authors list. (And a good sign that anyone I don't currently read from that list, I should start on.) I am not usually big on anthologies, but I can see that I need this one, stat.

#3 ::: David Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 12:34 PM:

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
Fantasy, SF and plot

#4 ::: sussura ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 02:06 PM:

Oh that looks good.

#5 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 02:44 PM:

This just went on my "buy it when it comes out" list.

#6 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 03:11 PM:

I even like the cover!

#7 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 03:45 PM:

Fade Manley #2: No kidding. That is an absolutely amazing lineup.

I think I know what my airplane book is going to be for my first trip in November.

#8 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 04:32 PM:

David Weingart @3: Guy SFFolks Day?

#9 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 04:33 PM:

Original post updated in order to quote from the Publishers Weekly review, which I just now saw. It's extremely detailed and positive. It's also three to four times the length of a normal PW review, it's set apart in a box covering two-thirds of a page, and it's Gardner Dozois. My inner goshwow fanboy's head is spinning.

#10 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 04:56 PM:

(The full text of Gardner's review can be found here on PW's site, mysteriously stripped of its several paragraph breaks.)

#11 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 05:01 PM:

Wow, this is great. Can't wait to read it.

#12 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 06:15 PM:

My local (Covina, CA) new-book store (which had a fine selection of s-f) died last month or this, but I'm not dead yet, and expect to manage to get a copy of this volume, if I survive that long. Thank you, Patrick.

#13 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 09:44 PM:

So you and Hartwell have the arrogance to think you can define Twenty-First Century Science Fiction?

#14 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 11:41 PM:

How do editors select short stories for these anthologies? Do you just pretty much read anything that comes out? I'm sure you must have places where people go to talk to each other about this or that upcoming author, some obscure gem discovered in an anthology etc.

Also, first day buy for sure. Scalzi, Stross and Rajaniemi alone would have made sure of that, but I'm even more excited about the names I DON'T recognize. I foresee some back catalogue binge reading in my future.

#15 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 03:15 AM:


(Despite probably having read most of the stories before. It's an impressive line-up.)

#16 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 05:59 AM:

I actually read the title in entirely the opposite way to Bill Higgins @13, thinking that this is the most utilitarian of titles for an anthology SF stories published after 2000. Also quite a good one.

#17 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 06:37 AM:

Bill Higgins, #13: It's a dirty, dangerous job, but someone's got to do it.

Daniel Klein, #14: The short answer is that basically we both read a lot, and we spent several weekends (spread out over a couple of years) reading and re-reading masses of material at David's house up in Westchester.

We did have one massive advantage, which is that David has been editing or co-editing an annual Year's Best SF collection for HarperCollins* since the 1990s, and he has FileMaker databases of all the notes that he and Kathryn Cramer took on their reading of hundreds of stories in the process of selecting for each of those volumes. But there are stories in Twenty-First Century Science Fiction that didn't appear in those Year's Best SF books.

Footnote for clarity: With volume 18, due out late this fall, the Hartwell-edited Year's Best SF series moves to Tor.

#18 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 09:55 AM:

Niall McAuley writes in #6:

I even like the cover!

To an astronomer's eye, the cover puns on "authors who first came to prominence in the 21st century."

#19 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 11:32 AM:

@Bill Higgins: It does display some flare!

#20 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2013, 05:09 PM:

And here I was, thinking I wanted to expand the list of authors I followed. Truly a big thank-yu (let's see if this gets gnomed) for this book.

#21 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 05:33 AM:

I was thinking Kage Baker was pre-21st century, but The Company didn't take off (in a high visibility sense) with the first novel.

Or maybe I was thinking that because she's the only one who will write no more, and the century still seems young.

Hope grows.

#22 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 08:03 AM:

cd, #1: My apologies, I spaced out your inquiry about the book's table of contents.

As it happens, SF Signal put up the full table of contents a few hours ago.

#23 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 10:09 AM:

PNH: Thank you very much! I was perhaps overly terse in my request for such, and was aware that it might be under some sort of embargo.

An intriguing collection, indeed.

#24 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2013, 05:32 PM:

I've been thinking lately how I've got a bit out of touch with who's doing what, living off the cultural capital of writers I discovered many years ago. Perhaps this will fix me up.

Sounds good.

#25 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2013, 01:41 AM:

added to my list! (Maintained on Notepad. Databases don't have to be complex...) And I know to avoid giving expressions of gratitude, much as one does with the fae!


#26 ::: Cadbury Moose suspects French spam at #26 ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2014, 05:12 PM:

To the barricades!

#27 ::: Clifton sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2014, 02:02 AM:

I think vigrx might be a distant cousin of Asterix.

#28 ::: Nanette Choat ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2019, 08:14 AM:

Normally I do not read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, very nice article.

#29 ::: TomB sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2019, 09:14 AM:

This write-up very compelled me to try and report it!

#30 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2019, 09:49 AM:

It's old enough to vote, and yet 21st Century... still sounds like the future to me.

#31 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2019, 01:42 PM:

Buddha Buck #30: Well yes, we are living in the future.

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