Besides the fact that one is going to save my financial ass from uninsured cancer treatment last year, anthologies are the best way to read work by some of your favorite authors while finding new favorite authors. I have found countless new authors through anthologies, including Robin Hobb, George R. R. Martin, Joe Haldeman, David Weber, Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs, and countless others.
I also take great satisfaction at reading a story a night. Reading a tale and finishing in an hour feels great, especially if it is a wonderful read.
Today, I am featuring Epic edited by John Joseph Adams. It is an anthology filled with great epic tales from some of the best writers working!
Here is a bit more about it:
There is a sickness in the land. Prophets tell of the fall of empires, the rise of champions. Great beasts stir in vaults beneath the hills, beneath the waves. Armies mass. Gods walk. The world will be torn asunder.
Epic fantasy is storytelling at its biggest and best. From the creation myths and quest sagas of ancient times to the mega-popular fantasy novels of today, these are the stories that express our greatest hopes and fears, that create worlds so rich we long to return to them again and again, and that inspire us with their timeless values of courage and friendship in the face of ultimate evil—tales that transport us to the most ancient realms, and show us the most noble sacrifices, the most astonishing wonders.
Here are those tales:
- Foreword by Brent Weeks
- “Homecoming” by Robin Hobb
- “The Word of Unbinding” by Ursula K. Le Guin
- “The Burning Man” by Tad Williams
- “As the Wheel Turns” by Aliette de Bodard
- “The Alchemist” by Paolo Bacigalupi
- “Sandmagic” by Orson Scott Card
- “The Road to Levinshir” by Patrick Rothfuss
- “Rysn” by Brandon Sanderson
- “While the Gods Laugh” by Michael Moorcock
- “Mother of All Russiya” by Melanie Rawn
- “Riding the Shore of the River of Death” by Kate Elliott
- “The Bound Man” by Mary Robinette Kowal
- “The Narcomancer” by N. K. Jemisin
- “Strife Lingers in Memory” by Carrie Vaughn
- “The Mad Apprentice” by Trudi Canavan
- “Otherling” by Juliet Marillier
- “The Mystery Knight” by George R. R. Martin
Now acclaimed editor John Joseph Adams (Wastelands, The Living Dead) brings you seventeen tales by today’s leading authors of epic fantasy, including George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire), Ursula K. Le Guin (Earthsea), Robin Hobb (Realms of Elderlings), Kate Elliott (Crown of Stars), Tad Williams (Of Memory, Sorrow & Thorn), Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle), and more.
Return again to lands you’ve loved, or visit magical new worlds. Victory against the coming darkness is never certain, but one thing’s for sure—your adventure will be epic.
Here is the interview with the anthology’s editor, John Joseph Adams, where he talks about the project and the stories within:
INTERVIEW: EPIC BY JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS
Shawn Speakman: Hi John! Tell Unbound Worlds readers about EPIC, your new fantasy anthology?
Folks can read more about the anthology at the promotional site we built to support its release, which is at http://www.johnjosephadams.com/epic. There you’ll find some interviews with the authors (both about their stories in the anthology and their thoughts on epic fantasy in general), as well as some “free reads” (i.e., stories in the anthology that you can read for free online).
Shawn Speakman: The stories in this anthology have been published before but EPIC is almost a Best of the Best. Was it more difficult pulling these stories together than an anthology with all new content?
With an original anthology, there’s a lot more juggling involved–authors drop out due to time constraints, or they misinterpret the theme, or they just fall off the face of the Earth and you never hear from them again–so that leaves the anthologist to do a lot of scrambling to repair that damage done when those things occur.
In this case, I’d say doing a reprint anthology of epic fantasy was definitely easier than doing an original anthology would have been, mainly because most of the pre-eminent practitioners in today’s marketplace are just going to be too busy to write new stories for such a project. Sure, you might be able to get one or two top people, but the chances you’d be able to line up all of the top epic fantasy writers to write you original stories…well, that’s definitely a tough thing to pull off. That said, though I was nearly able to pull it off in Epic, I didn’t quite manage to get everyone into the anthology. One of the issues in editing Epic was that the length of epic fantasy stories does tend to be, well, epic, and though the book is quite large, if I was going to fit everything in there, it would have had to have been quite a bit larger. Many of the stories I wanted to use were novella-length, and fitting novellas into an anthology is always challenging. I also ran into some rights issues, which prevented me from being able to include some folks I would have really liked to have in there, such as Robert Jordan, Steven Erikson, and Stephen R. Donaldson. Though if I had been able to secure the rights to the stories I wanted to use by those three, that would have presented even more issues, because all three of those stories were long novellas (together they’d almost be a whole book between the three of them!).
Shawn Speakman: Since these stories have come before, what was your work like on the anthology as editor?
That’s the creative side. There’s also a lot of administrative stuff to deal with as an editor: There’s rights to negotiate; there’s contracts to issue (then make sure they’re signed, and then countersigned); there’s payments to send out; there’s text to acquire and proof. Often you have to write an introduction that pontificates about the theme, which is sometimes easy and sometimes quite difficult; also sometimes you need to craft header notes to introduce each story. Then once the book comes out, you have to help with the promotion of the book, and make sure the authors get their contributor copies, and after it’s been out for a while, if it sells well enough, you have to distribute a royalty share to the authors…
Shawn Speakman: Why are anthologies like this one important to our genre and why should readers try it?
One nice thing about Epic, which is true of this particular book more so than any other anthology I’ve done to date, is that readers can really use it as a kind of theme sampler — in this case, an epic fantasy sampler. Because most of the stories in the book are set in the same milieu as their authors’ epic fantasy series, reading the anthology introduces you to those worlds, and maybe gives you a good idea of whether or not you’d enjoy reading a whole novel set there. But obviously I think the stories all work independently of their larger worlds their authors have created, and each standalone without any prior knowledge. On the flip side, it’s also a nice way to get a picture of what’s happening with epic fantasy today, without having to dive headfirst into a dozen different series that all span multiple books of 1000 pages each.
Shawn Speakman: What are you working on presently? Something cool, I bet!
At the moment, I’m working on promotional stuff for all of those, but I’m also currently working on–or curating–Wastelands 2, which will collect more of the best post-apocalyptic fiction (focusing on material published in the last several years, since Wastelands, vol. 1 came out).
Down the road a ways, I’ve also got Robot Uprisings–which I’m co-editing with roboticist and bestselling author Daniel H. Wilson–coming out from Doubleday in 2014. There’s one other project that’s basically done but I’m not cleared to talk about publicly yet, and some other stuff that’s still in the fetal stage.
But other than that, I’m just working, as always on Lightspeed Magazine and now also Nightmare Magazine, as well as co-hosting Wired.com’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. I try to stay busy!
Epic by John Joseph Adams is available now in fine bookstores! Learn more about John Joseph Adams and Epic HERE!
Go epic! Or go home!