It all started with a letter…
Yes, that letter. The letter from Elizabeth Bear. The one published in Clarkesworld Issue 68 (May 2012), which we’ve reprinted in this anthology. Her open letter to Speculative Fiction.
After reading her letter, we could have applauded like many others and blithely wandered off with our hands in our pockets. Instead, we decided to do something. This is the result—a new anthology that is fun to read and embodies many of the elements found in classic, Grand Tradition science fiction. In short, we decided to put our money where our heart is.
So what is Grand Tradition science fiction? I am not going to give you the Wikipedia answer, I am giving my answer. Your mileage may vary.
Grand Tradition stories were full of ideas, optimism, inspiration and respect for science. Grand Tradition SF showed us that science was cool. Like many others, I chose a career in science because it was the most exciting thing in my universe. The wonder of discovery; the satisfaction that comes from building new things; and the knowledge that you can make a difference through intellect (or cleverness), hard work and perseverance are heady experiences. There are no magic wands, fairy godpeople, or Miracle Max creations. Grand Tradition stories inspired many of our current technologies and they continue to help scientists understand how these technologies might interact with the real world.
Grand Tradition stories were fun to read. In her open letter to SF, Elizabeth Bear asks why “[SF seems] to think that nothing fun can have value.” I obviously agree with her sentiments. I am sorry to say that a derisive public wrote off Grand Tradition SF as mere escapism—as if escapism was something unsavory. This escapist “dreck” taught me about Dyson Spheres, red-shift, general relativity, and put entire cultures and belief systems under the intellectual microscope. Not too bad for escapist literature.
And finally, the best Grand Tradition stories had a strong human element. Great SF is not just about gizmos and spaceships, it’s about us and how we are shaped by, and relate to our environment. Human elements are the Velcro that makes stories stick in our brain. They make them enjoyable, approachable, and memorable.
The stories in this volume embody one or more of these elements.
Far Orbit is truly a labor of love, but no matter how much I express my ardor, it’s all about the stories. We endeavored to provide a broad mix of SF stories by established, award-wining authors and newly emerging authors. Their stories embody a variety of SF motifs including those from 1940s pulp-fiction, realistic hard SF, noir fiction, spaceship fiction, alien encounters, and action-adventure. The range of subjects is astonishing and includes slimy alien babysitters, an angry sentient bear, walking plants, alien bunnies, and a barbecue. If that is not enough to pique your interest, the anthology also features a cello-playing assassin, high-stakes poker emancipation, space ship crashes/rescues, alien artifacts, and fights with space pirates. We hope every SF fan can find a favorite within these pages.
“Daring adventure, protagonists who think on their feet, and out of this world excitement! Welcome to FAR ORBIT, a fine collection of stories in the best SF tradition. Strap in and enjoy!”
"A truly exceptional anthology of deftly crafted science fiction short stories by an assembly of writers who are masters of the genre, "Far Orbit Apogee" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections."