The 2014 Campbellian Anthology – a DRM-free ebook featuring the work of over 100 authors eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in science fiction and fantasy – is currently available for download. 860,000 words of fiction. For free (for now). Go grab it.
A little over a year ago, a small group of us had a crazy idea. "What if," we said, "there was a way everyone eligible for the Campbell could publicize their work at the same time, so that readers might have some idea of who we are?"
Now, I don't recall every name who was part of the original discussion (I could check, but that would be work, and I'm plumb tuckered out after assembling this tome), although at some point I volunteered to oversee an anthology if the others would all agree to participate. That first volume had a very respectable showing, with 43 writers represented by a combined total of roughly 350,000 words.
What a difference a year makes! The volume you now hold in your hands is considerably larger, and includes a multitude of works from 111 contributors, spanning more than 860,000 words. (Should anyone be curious, that exceeds the combined total in George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords andA Dance with Dragons, which are—so far, at least!—the two longest volumes from A Song of Ice and Fire.)
It is big. It is very big. And judging from this year's response, next year's volume will likely be larger.
Now, any standard anthology introduction might interrupt itself at this point with some self-assured bluster about how much you, the reader, will enjoy every smidgen of the contents.
You won't. There will be some stories in this volume that you dislike, perhaps even strongly, and that's okay. Every writer whose work is represented herein still accomplished something remarkable in attaining a specific level of publication, and by doing so earned a place within these pages. I encourage you to investigate each and every one, but I make no promise about how you'll feel about the stories that landed them here, or the works they elected to share.
Here's a secret: You don't have to read this entire anthology for it to serve a purpose and be valuable to you. You're allowed to skip around.
So you've already spotted the next Adams, Butler, or Cherryh? Try the next Xue, Yolen, or Zelazny… or anything in between.
A story lost you along the way, or did something you've already seen too many times? Try a different story, or a different excerpt, or even a different writer.
There are a lot of words in this volume. I can't tell you where to focus your attention; by agreeing to play host, I also agreed to remain impartial. That doesn't mean I don't have favorites (I do), but it means I ask you to decide upon your own.
Here's another secret: If you do read every word in this anthology, and investigate all the links for those currently known to be eligible, you'll probably discover a new favorite. At least one. And if you do—if you, as a reader, connect with even a single new writer—then I will feel very, very good about this year's installment of the Annual Campbellian Anthology.
Now, go make a friend. Your writers are waiting.