infinity plus... for me, in 1999, iplus, as it is often known, was one of a handful of SF websites necessarily to be consulted on at least a weekly basis. Even then, two years into what is now a ten-year run, iplus was a fantastic cornucopia, for reading fine stories selected specially by the authors themselves, for interviews, reviews, essays... all carefully husbanded, organised, and cross-linked by the semi-legendary Keith Brooke. What Locus Online and SF Weekly were for SF news, iplus was for the literature itself, offering a profound sense of the thriving currents of genre, its thought and its art. This is all the more true now; iplus is, deservedly, after its first ten years, a landmark, one of our greatest resources. It is a floating million-word story anthology, and access is entirely free.
I mentioned 1999 because it was then, as a freshman reviewer and interviewer, that I approached Keith Brooke to ask: could he use the occasional review from me for iplus? Kindly, he said OK, let’s see one, and I sent along my take on Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson. He liked it (though he chopped it up a bit), and soon I was contributing reviews regularly, which led me humbly to ask, how about my doing an interview or two for him? Keith assented, and so my interviewing career was born, beginning with a (long) discussion with Mary Doria Russell about her fine novel The Sparrow, and going on to Michael Swanwick, Kim Stanley Robinson, Mary Gentle, and many others. I began securing reprint stories from some of the writers to accompany their interviews on the site, and Keith in time suggested that I join iplus as Associate Editor, formalising my involvement. So there we were, building the site’s inventory to yet more formidable levels, and the thought naturally occurred (to Keith, not to me, damn it): how about an infinity plus anthology? That is, a print anthology, the pixels made flesh?
As any editor could tell you, the early Noughts were not a good time for SF and fantasy anthologies. A couple of decades back, anthologies had spawned like rabbits, but the boom was long over. Publishers were extremely cautious about anthos, alleging lack of market penetration (they still allege this, but somehow the market has begun to revive...) But the small presses will often venture where the publishing Goliaths shy, and Peter Crowther and his burgeoning UK imprint, PS Publishing, took our project on, with characteristic benign boldness. In 2001, out came infinity plus one, in a limited signed edition, and in 2003 infinity plus two, ditto. The circulation wasn’t huge, but we had successfully carried the iplus principle into book form: the contributors selected their stories themselves, going for ones of which they were personally fond but which they thought had not gotten the exposure they deserved. In our two volumes we reprinted (or, in a couple of cases, published for the first time) twenty-six not-so-readily-available tales by a tremendous list of big names in SF/F. And so the matter rested, until 2006...
Solaris, a major new SF imprint based in the UK, agreed with Keith and me that a mass-market combined edition of the two iplus anthologies would be a great idea. Now the project could reach a wide readership in inexpensive form. And so, in August 2007, we have the release of infinity plus: the anthology, a splendid trade paperback chock with stories by Moorcock, Gentle, Robinson, Park, Stableford, Shepard, Reed, Baxter, Di Filippo, Bishop, and many other fine writers, a truly stellar array. It’s a dream come true for us, made possible by those energetic and innovative paladins of Solaris: Christian Dunn, George Mann, Mark Newton... We can’t thank you enough!
Posted by Mark Newton at 8/07/2007