The Legendary Drive-by: Jack Dann

Some say ‘legendary’ just isn’t strong enough a word. Some say the man’s a myth, because no one, but no one could be like Jack Dann. The man who gave us The Memory Cathedral, Promised Land, and The Rebel, is also an unrepentant editor of anthologies such as the World Fantasy award-winning Dreaming Downunder, Dreaming Again, Legends of Australian Fantasy, Gathering the Bones (with frequent partner in crime Gardner Dozois) … I could go on, but why bother? Isn’t it already obvious that this man is not only a legend and very real, but also another over-achiever?

If you ever get a chance to hear him talk, then listen carefully. Hey, what do you know? He will be at WorldCon in Melbourne next week …

1. I first knew I was a writer when …
… in 1971 I wrote the regrettable sentence “A fused mass of beryllium fled from Deneb”, which was, probably just as regrettably, published in Worlds of If.

2. The line or story I most regret writing is …
… aha, see above; but, alas, there are so many lines: one, which Joe Haldeman (he should grow a pimple on his nose!) pointed out to me at a Guilford Writers Conference (again in the 1970’s). I had written a certain infelicitous sentence in a story called “I’m with You in Rockland”, which described a sex scene in which an unfortunate woman’s breasts fell on her lover’s chest.  Ah well, removable breasts. What can I say, except I’ve learned to proofread my stories.

3. The book I most enjoyed writing is…
… always and forever it seems: the book I’m currently working on.

4. The anthology is alive and well: discuss:
Well, it’s been alive since I’ve been in the business, never particularly well, except perhaps during a period when Roger Elwood was selling enormous quantities of anthologies to every publisher extant it seemed. However, most of the anthologies weren’t really very good (except when he collaborated with other writers), and they glutted the market, didn’t sell particularly well, and for a while no publisher would go near anthologies. But writers made a few bucks for a while.

Writers don’t usually make much money writing short fiction, unless a story gets optioned for film or television; but writers–myself included–love the short forms, and =stories= have always been alive and well. I should also say that anthologists don’t usually make a lot of money editing anthologies-it’s a labor of love.

I think the best time for anthologies was during the experimental “New Wave” period of the 1970’s when Damon Knight, Bob Silverberg, and Terry Carr were editing anthology series such as Orbit, New Dimensions, and Universe.

I edit anthologies because I love putting together stories and working with other writers. I think the market is still kicking hard with our own Jonathan Strahan becoming the foremost anthologist of his generation. He has also been editing a continuing anthology and getting great stories. So, yes, I think anthologies are alive and well in paper form…and on the internet.

5. Donuts or danishes? 
You’re really going to ask the guy who edited =Wandering Stars=, the first Jewish science fiction and fantasy anthology, such a question? I may be a non-believer (see my essay “Antinomies” in Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk’s excellent collection =Voices of Disbelief=), but I’m a “cultural Jew”. As Isaac Asimov wrote in the introduction to that book: “I’m Jewish enough.”  So as far as =I’m= concerned: donuts are fine, and danishes divine, but bagels are numero uno! Yes, I’ll cop to stealing from the great master Tennessee Williams, who wrote: “Women are fine, and sheep are divine, but the iguana is numero Uno.” Ah, well…

He doth blog here.

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One Response to The Legendary Drive-by: Jack Dann

  1. Jack Dann says:

    Ah, Francesca, you say the nicest things!