Eros and Agape Among the Asteroids

Is the science-fiction field incestuous? Yes. Is that a bad thing? I’m not entirely sure. If editors are buying substandard stories from writers merely because those writers are their friends, I believe that to be a bad thing. But if what is happening instead is that writers and editors who like each others’ stories develop a friendship as an outgrowth of that, then that seems more like serendipity to me. Which is the cause and which the effect? We can never be sure.

The anthology Once Upon A Galaxy seems to be a prime example of this to me. Back when I was editing Science Fiction Age magazine, I published a number of stories by Wil McCarthy, including a novella titled “The Collapsium.” That story, a hard-SF tale told in a fairy-tale tone, was nominated for a Nebula and later expanded into the novel Collapsium. Time went by. Later, when I was editor of Science Fiction Weekly, I no longer bought Wil’s fiction, but he wrote a science column for me every four weeks.

When I heard that Wil was editing an anthology of hard-SF stories with a fairy-tale voice, a la the story I had bought from him years before, I completed the circuit by selling him a story, our roles suddenly reversed. Once Upon a Galaxy hit bookstores in September 2002.

“Eros and Agape Among the Asteroids” was reprinted in my SF collection What We Still Talk About.