J. Michael Straczynski has added a long comment to his Facebook announcement in defense of the decisions he’s made in shaping The Last Dangerous Visions, for example, holding it to 112,000 words to make it attractive to a major publisher.
One thing needs to be pointed out since folks who have never actually seen any of the TLDV stories seem to have very strong opinions about what that book should be, and without seeing what this one is, what it shouldn’t be.
There was no one thing that stands as Harlan’s version of TLDV. It never existed because it was always in a state of flux. It was going to be whatever it was on the day when he finally finished with it. THAT was to be TLDV, not something frozen in amber that only reflected the70s. Which is why he continued buying stories all through the 80s and into the 90s (including from folks like Stephen Dedman) because he saw the book as a living document that would have to grow and change to stay relevant with changing times. It wasn’t supposed to be static until it actually came out…and he was the first to say that some stories would have to be trimmed to make room for ones that were more current.
Further to the point: no publisher in their right mind is going to put out a 700,000 word anthology that follows on books that came out in the 70s. The risk is too great. A reasonable sized book, yes. A behemoth, no. And the whole point of the exercise is to put the work of the best of the original DV writers, and those new voices Harlan wanted to continue to see, out where the mainstream world could see it…not as a limited edition sold to the already-faithful, not as an Ebook or a print-on-demand…but something to be published from a major company that would receive the kind of critical attention in the press that these stories and Harlan’s work deserve.
The only way for that to happen is to follow Harlan’s lead, pare away any stories that are no longer as relevant as they were, or have been supplanted by real-world events, and focus on the very best of the very best…so the book is lean and mean and strong and utterly bulletproof. (And do bear in mind that over half the original inventory was originally pulled and published elsewhere in any event.)
To those out there complaining that every single story should be included…if that were done, the book would never be published and nobody would ever see any of it in any credible form. You can have one or the other but you can’t have both. The modern publishing business doesn’t work that way.
The now-completed Last Dangerous Visions contains the sharpest, most incisive stories by the leading lights of the last 40 years…the stories Harlan believed were the strongest and the best-of-the-best.
So…crazy idea for the internet…how about people wait to see what the book actually *is* and what’s actually *inside* it before deciding what it actually is and what’s actually inside it? And understand that what *you* think the book should be isn’t the point…it’s what Harlan thought the book should be, which was never one particular thing, because it kept changing over the years. This reflects where all of that thinking finally wound up. This is the book that he would have wanted to see out there so that the writers included (all others have had their stories reverted so they can appear anywhere at the discretion of their estates or themselves) can receive the critical attention that those stories deserve.