Anthologies Past and Present
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
So, a while back I promised I’d do a post listing a variety of good anthologies for science fiction and fantasy short stories. This is that post.
I’m not sure everyone out there has read many short stories. While they used to be a pretty common format for kids and adults, that seems to have dwindled a bit in recent years. I think it’s important to remember that a short story isn’t merely a longer novel broken up into bite sized chunks. And while some authors like to use the format to tell smaller stories about their characters from longer works, some of the best short stories are crafted as a singular whole. This works especially well with science fiction–the genre of ideas–where a short story can highlight a concept or address and scenario without having to weave it into a longer storytelling experience.
I wanted to share some of my favorite anthologies. I also went around looking for newer science fiction and fantasy collections, but I honestly didn’t find much. A lot of what is included in this post is out of print, but they’re worth checking out.
In my search to find the anthologies I wanted to feature I quickly discovered that while there are any number of authors writing stories and quite a few anthologies, there are really only a handful of notable editors in the field who have constructed these anthologies. The Big Three that appeared time and time again for kid’s science fiction and fantasy are Isaac Asimov, Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville.
We’ll start with Asimov. Isaac Asimov was one of the world’s most prolific writers. He’s written and edited across genres, ages and subjects. At some point I’m going to have to have a post devoted to him because he is still one of the greats in the world of science fiction. He was also a bang-up editor of anthologies.
Here’s some of his best middle-grade stuff.
Young Star Travelers edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, Charles G. Waugh (HarperCollins, 1986)
One of six books in a series of themed anthologies dealing with science fiction and fantasy tropes. Asimov worked on all of these as part of an editing team with Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh. Young Ghosts (1985), Young Monsters (1985), Young Extraterrestrials (1984), Young Witches and Warlocks (1987), and Young Mutants (1984) are the other anthologies in the series. All six have an excellent range of stories, from the thoughtful, to the funny, to the chilling. They’re not easy to get ahold of, and most only had one print run, sadly. I’m still trying to collect the whole set.
Then there’s Jane Yolen another exceedingly prolific author and editor, with more than 300 books to her name. In fact, she’s more than prolific, she’s amazing–just this year she has at least two books coming out. Over the span of her career, she’s had a hand as either editor or author in some of the great middle grade anthologies and collections I love.
Jane Yolen is quite a teller of tales, and she’s got more than a few collections that are purely her own work including Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast (HMH, 1997), and the themed collections like Here There Be Dragons (HMH, 1993), Here There Be Unicorns (HMH, 1994), and Here There Be Ghosts (HMH, 1998) to name just a handful.
2041: Twelve Short Stories About the Future by Top Science Fiction Writers edited by Jane Yolen (Doubleday, 1990)
Of all the anthologies of which Ms. Yolen is the editor, this one is my favorite. Technically this may be a bit more on the young adult side of things, but the stories in here are some of my favorites, imagining how the future might look in 50 years. Other edited anthologies include Vampires (Harpercollins, 1991), Werewolves (Harper and Row, 1988), Dragons & Dreams: A Collection of New Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories (HarperCollins, 1986), The Haunted House (HarperCollins, 1995), Spaceships & Spells: A Collection of New Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories (HarperCollins, 1987)
Third on my list is Bruce Coville. A favorite on the shelves for his fantasy and funny science fiction, he’s written an admirable amount of short stories and edited quite a handful of anthlogies.
On the editorial front, Coville has participated in editing a large number of different themed anthologies. I’ve listed a few of them here. Half-Human (Scholastic, 2004), A Glory of Unicorns (Scholastic, 2000), Bruce Coville’s Book of Monsters: Tales to Give You the Creeps (Scholastic, 1993), Bruce Coville’s Book of Nightmares (Scholastic, 1995), The Unicorn Treasury (2004), Bruce Coville’s Book of Ghosts (1995), Bruce Coville’s Book of Aliens (1995), Bruce Coville’s Book of Magic (1996), and Bruce Coville’s Strange Worlds (Turtleback, 2000). Lots of more current writers featured in these anthologies, so readers will recognize writers that are currently populating the bookshelves.
As I said, there just aren’t a lot of current anthologies being produced on the topics of science fiction and fantasy for kids. One of the rare titles came out two years ago: The Chronicles of Harris Burdick illustrated by Chris Van Allesburg (Houghton Mifflin, 2011).
Inspired by the decades old picture book: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allesburg (Houghton Mifflin, 1984), this recent anthology has popular authors each take one of the singular picture/title/quote combinations from the original book and write a full short story about them. The results are quite inventive.
There is also a new anthology out this year, Guys Read: Other Worlds edited by Jon Scieszka (Walden Pond Press, Expected Publication September 2013) but I have to admit that it’s the anthology that prompted me to revisit short story collections I loved as a child, because I just didn’t find it quite on par with them. Still, it’s about the only other title I’ve found.
I’m going to ask for help on this, do any of you know some great middle grade science fiction and fantasy anthologies that have been published recently and are still in print? I may have honestly missed some, and if anyone has some suggestions of things I’ve missed, I’ll happily edit this post and add them!
About Stephanie WhelanI'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.
Posted on August 18, 2013, in General Posts and tagged Anthologies, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Children's Literature, fantasy, Middle-Grade Fiction, Reading, reviews, Science Fiction, series. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.