Yesterday, we tackled anthologies.
Adam: "The name Martin H. Greenberg on the front of a book sure was a sign of quantity."
Yeah it was.
So many Greenberg anthologies. And also a slew of those late-80s, early-90s sex-and-horror anthologies. What was that trend? Why did that happen? Why did we buy all of them?
I feel like that's a big question here at Gojirawitziev. "Why did we buy all of that?"
But with the Greenberg anthologies, I feel like I can answer that a bit.
A note for those of you who don't have a Greenberg anthology infestation: I think like six of these things come out per year. They have titles like $THING Fantastic, mostly. They mostly have the same ten to twelve writers in them. Two or three of these will be good writers. The rest will be, not always awful, but mind-numbingly generic. It's a mediocrity farm. It's the McDonalds of genre fiction. Even the good writers will often turn in something mediocre because it's Yet Another Theme Anthology.
Why do we have dozens of these?
They were all we had.
This is the thing, man. In those dark days, we did not have an internet. So we had no Clarkesworld, no ChiZine, no Strange Horizons, et cetera. We had bookstores, is all. And no bookstore near us carried Asimov's or Analog or any of the other genre magazines. No. If we wanted a fix of short genre fiction, it was a mass-market paperback anthology, probably edited by Greenberg et al, probably full of meh but with enough interesting stuff to be worth the five bucks, especially in the absence of anything else. If nothing else, it would have a Charles de Lint story and probably also a Tanya Huff, and that was worth my five bucks. (This, of course, was before CdL's short fiction was invariably eventually collected; nowadays it's more cost-effective to wait for the collection.)
So why did we have dozens of these things? Because it was the only way, man.
Those were dark days.
These anthologies are still coming out quite regularly, and I'm actually curious about their sales figures. Because now we have stuff like the Interfictions, Clockwork Phoenix, and Eclipse anthologies, which all have great stuff anyway, but especially compared to the Greenberg ones - and Interfictions has a policy that a writer can only be in one volume of Interfictions, so there'll never be the same few authors churning out the same story on a different theme. Now we have the internet. Now we have a lot of choices, a lot of venues, a lot of ways to get a fix of the high-quality stuff.
We kept a few - because a few had early stories by authors who didn't fall into the Greenberg pit, who went on to do nifty stuff, and their stories sparkle in comparison to the rest of the volume. But it says something that those stories stood out so much. And that they didn't stay.