On Selecting Fearsome Journeys by Jonathan Strahan (GUEST POST)

Welcome the Fearsome Journeys blog tour. I’d really like to thank Bob and the gang for letting me drop by here at Beauty in Ruins to talk about my new book, which has just come out from Solaris Books.

Fearsome Journeys is what I described while working on it as an “epic/military fantasy” anthology. What the really means, I think, is that it’s full of stories that are filled with action and adventure, stories for the most part like the ones written by the authors in the book (if that makes sense).

Selecting stories to go into an anthology, like Fearsome Journeys, is an interesting business. There are a many different kinds of anthology, though that may be the insider in me talking. All original anthologies, reprint anthologies, mixed anthologies, theme anthologies, overview anthologies, best of the year annuals. I confess that over the past 20 years I've taken a shot at all of those, and choosing stories for them is often slightly different.

Fearsome Journeys was always going to be an all-original book. I wanted to bring readers brand new stories, which meant taking one of two approaches. I could either put out an open call to writers, or I could invite writers I felt would make for an interesting mix in the book. The advantage of going for an open call is that there is an infinite capacity to be surprised, an author you've never heard of could provide something surprising and magical. The disadvantage is there can be a LOT of stories to go through. The advantages of inviting specific writers are that you get control over the kind of work you’ll get and the amount of it. The disadvantage, if it is one, is that you’ll only get what you asked for.

I decided to go the invitation-only route because I knew what I wanted the book to be. Fearsome Journeys, it became clear to me early on, was always going to be a cousin to a sword and sorcery anthology I edited a few years ago called Swords and Dark Magic, which I co-edited with Lou Anders. I knew I wanted the same kind of sweeping adventure and intense action, but I also wanted variety.

For that reason I started out by inviting writers like Glen Cook, KJ Parker, Scott Lynch, Trudi Canavan, Kate Elliott, and Daniel Abraham to be involved. Each of them has enormous experience in writing adventure fantasy on a grand scale. I knew that would be the core of the book. I also wanted writers who were really just making their names, people like Saladin Ahmed, whose debut novel The Throne of the Crescent Moon was just out at the time. I also know for a book like this to work it has to have variety, something different. Having loved Ellen Kushner's sly and witty Swordspoint novels, I knew she’d provide a brilliant counterpoint to the others. She invited Ysabeau S Wilce along, and gave me just what I needed.

And then I always try to go for something a little left field. When Lou and I were editing Swords and Dark Magic we asked Jeffrey Ford to be involved. It’s my feeling he can write anything, and his “Coral Heart” story for that book was perfect. Getting him to reprise that here was a no-brainer. And then there’s Ellen Klages, who I really believe can write anything too. I knew she’d provide something unlike anything else, and she didn't disappoint, providing a great story that really mixes the book up.

So, that’s how I selected stories for this anthology. I chose the right mix of people and then trusted them to do what they do, and to do it well. It’s my experience they seldom let you down. The stories have to fit, and they have to be good, and when they do you get something special. I think that’s what happened for Fearsome Journeys.


Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy
Edited by Jonathan Strahan

An exciting new series of the best fantasy writing!

From dragons to quests, from battles to magic – epic fantasy has never been more popular and now it has an exciting new series showcasing its best from Locus Award-nominated anthologist, Jonathan Strahan!

Following the runaway success of its celebrated Solaris Rising, End of the Line and Magic anthologies, Solaris is now opening the doors on worlds of epic fantastical adventure with Fearsome Journeys!

An amazing array of the most popular and exciting names in epic fantasy are set to appear in the first in a brand new series of anthologies, including original fiction from authors such as Trudi Canavan, Daniel Abraham, Saladin Ahmed, Elizabeth Bear, Glen Cook, and Scott Lynch.

A fresh new voice in epic fantasy, which continues to be one of the world’s most popular genres, Fearsome Journeys brings together this fantastic range of high-profile authors to create a new series that will delight traditionalists while also providing new readers with a great entry point to this most timeless of genres.


Jonathan Strahan is an editor and anthologist. He co-edited The Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology series in 1997 and 1998. He is also the reviews editor of Locus. He lives in Perth, Western Australia with his wife and their two daughters.