As many of you know, World Weaver Press has announced an open submission period for their newest Anthology, Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures (or the second volume, Far Orbit: Apogee). The call is for modern, memorable stories crafted in the Grand Tradition of SF.
So what is SF in the Grand Tradition? I am not going to give you the Wikipedia answer, I am giving my answer. Your mileage may vary.
Grand Tradition stories are 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 coolest 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 of experiences. There are no magic wands, fairy godpeople, or Miracle Max interventions. Grand Tradition stories inspired many of our current technologies and 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 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 “drek” 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.
Grand Tradition Stories embodied a sense of adventure and expectation. Yes, adventure is the secret ingredient in this literary cook off. I realize that adventure is a relative term. One man’s adventure may be a normal day to another. Communicating this sense of adventure is the important thing. Readers of Grand Tradition stories have a gleeful expectation that interesting things are about to happen; that “normal” things do not remain that way for long.
While I am at it, let me leave you with a few things that make me sit up and take notice of an SF story.
- World-building. I love it when a writer creates an environment that feels real and presents me with connections and consequences that aren’t immediately obvious. David Brin’s Kiln People and The Practice Effect are two great examples of world-building.
- Stories that have a strong human element. Great SF is not just about gizmos, spaceships, and bug-eyed monsters. It’s about us, our passions and anger, revenge and redemption, adversities and triumphs, how the characters are shaped by, and relate to their environment. Human elements are the Velcro that make stories stick in our brain. They make them enjoyable, approachable, memorable.
- Grand Spectacle. I admit it, I love the grand spectacle. Like any art form, painting with a broad brush works if you do it well. If not, you just cover a lot of ground without much effect.
I am very pleased that World Weaver Press has agreed to publish Far Orbit. I look forward to reading your submissions.
Anthologist: Far Orbit – Speculative Space Adventures and Far Orbit: Apogee
farorbit [at] worldweaverpress.com
2014 edited to add: Get your copy of the completed first anthology now: Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures.
2015 edited to add: A second Far Orbit anthology, Far Orbit: Apogee, will accept submissions of short science fiction written in the Grand Tradition between January 1 and March 31, 2015. Guidelines here.