Saturday 1 April 2000
Knopf Buys Undergrad SF Anthology
Editors Rick Wilber and Sheila Williams have sold Voices from the Fantastic, an anthology of work by the winner and runners-up of this year's Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in SF and Fantasy Writing, to Knopf for a six-figure advance. The sale was made at last week's International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, to a Knopf editor who attended anonymously.
The book will contain work by the four undergraduates who attended the conference: Beth Adele Long (her winning story "Repeating Patterns", as well as hard-SF "Knotting the Mist"), Lena DeTar (anthropological novelette "The Desert Is My Lady"), Mark Jacobsen (military SF "Earth Again Revenged"), and Elan Ruskin (30,000-word novella "The Rise and Fall of Anton Collabi").
Literary publisher Knopf, whose involvement with SF has until now extended only to a few bestselling writers (Michael Crichton, Anne Rice) and occasional literary books (by Geoff Ryman, Thomas M. Disch, etc.) not identified by genre, now sees SF and fantasy as the core of its publishing agenda. (President Sonny Mehta is said to be a long-time fan of SF writer Julian May.) A Knopf spokesman remarked "We see in young writers of science fiction and fantasy the revival of the moribund state of modern short fiction. There are O. Henry Award winners in this book, enduring classics. We expect this will be a break-out book -- another Mists of Avalon. We'll be placing ads for it in both the Saturday and Sunday editions of the New York Times."
Wilber acknowledged that the Knopf editor attended the conference incognito, to disguise the publisher's interest from rivals. St. Martin's (and F&SF) editor Gordon Van Gelder, who also attended the conference, exclaimed "I had no idea Knopf was there, or that the students had such great stories. Have they written any others? I'll buy them!"
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