Monday, January 24, 2011

An ode to Jonathan Strahan

It was Alastair Reynolds and Revelation Space that got me back to seriously reading science fiction. I picked that book up as a present for my mother, who had been complaining to me that she hadn't read any good SF in a long time. Once she'd read -- and enjoyed -- it, I gave it a crack myself, and got hooked. I then tackled all of Reynolds' back catalogue, but after that I stalled. I didn't know anyone who read (modern) SF, and I wasn't sure how to find out what was good. 

I hit on the idea of buying some short story anthologies as a way to sample a bunch of authors quickly. One of the first ones I grabbed was The New Space Opera, edited by -- you guessed it -- Jonathan Strahan (and Gardner Dozois). I loved it. Which was a pretty big deal for me; I'd managed to convince myself somewhere along the line that I didn't particularly like short fiction. Boy was I wrong.

Long story short (heh!), I started hunting out other anthologies edited by Strahan. Through these I discovered many of authors that I'd now rank amongst my favourites: Karl Schroeder, Ted Chiang, Jay Lake, Peter Watts, Sean Williams, and probably more besides. I have consistently enjoyed the anthologies that Strahan edits, and I await the next one eagerly.

Of course, I don't only read anthologies edited by Strahan, but I have found that my tastes seem to align most closely with his -- his are the anthologies I enjoy most consistently. He had help, from Gardner Dozois in particular, but I think Strahan deserves most of the credit for getting me interested in reading (and, by extension, writing) short SF.

The question I now realise I have no answer to is this: what is it about Strahan's particular choices that I so enjoy? "What do you look for in a story" is probably a pretty tricky question for him to answer, but perhaps I'll get a chance to ask him one day anyway? In the meantime, I've got a shiny new copy of his Engineering Infinity to read, and I'm going to see if reading it with that question in mind brings me any enlightenment.

While I do it, I'm also going to dream about one day having a story in something he has edited. Because that would be ace.


  1. I'm delighted you're enjoying the books, and hope you like Engineering Infinity.

  2. Funny how you write these things, never imagining that the man himself will read them. Cheers Jonathan, and (belated) congratulations for the World Fantasy Award!