I remember when I was young in the 1980’s, picking up a DAW paperback titled Amazons!. It was edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, featured a Michael Whelan cover, and contained short stories by C. J. Cherryh, Tanith Lee, Robin Hobb, Andre Norton, among many others. It was my first experience with short fantasy fiction. It’s how I became fans of Andre Norton and Robin Hobb and, as a matter of fact, one would become one of my better friends many years later.
The last decade has seen some great anthologies released and I’ve read them all. Short fantasy has a charm. It’s a more focused set of fiction, doing more with less, but there is a satisfaction that comes with finishing a tale every night before bed. It’s cathartic after reading massive epic fantasy stories.
Here are some of my recent favorite anthologies:
- Legends edited by Robert Silverberg
- Legends II edited by Robert Silverberg
- Warriors edited by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
- Songs of Love and Death edited by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
- Naked City edited by Ellen Datlow
- Down These Strange Streets edited by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
Jump back in time a bit. When I learned I had cancer several months ago, I wasn’t worried about my health. I’m capable of incredible focus. Those who truly know me knew the cancer would not stand a chance. It would be hard work but in the end the mind would overcome the body.
The real problem became obvious from the moment my MD told me the news. I lacked health insurance. I knew treating the Hodgkin’s lymphoma over six months would cost me more than $120,000 out of my own pocket—or go bankrupt. You see, like many Americans, I make too much money to apply for government assistance but not enough to cover the bill with any kind of payment plan. I’m in the middle. It doesn’t matter that I work 10 hours a day seven days a week. Health care in the United States is broken and I am one example of how that is very true.
I am fortunate though. Over the years, I have befriended many great writers working in the fantasy genre. When I told Terry Brooks about my diagnosis and lack of health insurance, he immediately offered to write me a short story to help pay for my medical bills. He took it a step further. What if I asked several other writers I know if they would do the same? Could I get other help?
An anthology evolved from that discussion. And it’s become a great one.
Right now, the anthology—which is tentatively titled Unfettered—has 17 authors contributing fantasy short stories. It purposefully has no theme, or rather, unleashing the writers to do exactly what they want is the theme. I want them to be unfettered even while I become unfettered from medical debt.
In short, I got to build my dream anthology! In a few weeks I will publish the official press release featuring who is involved. In the meantime, all I can say is you will recognize every name in the anthology with the exception of possibly two debut writers who are quickly building their fan bases. The proceeds from the anthology, which will be published as a signed & limited hardcover, a trade hardcover, and ebook, will go to paying off my medical bills. These bestselling writers have come to my aid when they had no need to do so. It shows the generosity that is still in the world; it shows that there is still goodness even during the hardest of times.
Which brings me to my question:
What authors comprise your dream anthology?
If you could build your own anthology and have your favorite writers produce novellas beneath one cover, who would those writers be? Would you create an anthology with all novellas from a specific genre? Or would you get more creative than that? What would your theme be? Or does that matter to you?