When I started trying to break into writing, one of the accepted routes into publication was via the short fiction market. Science fiction has always been well served by magazines, and although the landscape has changed considerably in the last three decades, the field remains vibrant. In fact, it’s still where many of the new names first appear, and also the focus of much of the most heated and engaged discussion on the shape and future of SF. When I started, the main short fiction magazine in the UK was Interzone, so that was where I submitted my early stories. I started in 1986 and collected rejection slips for the next few years. At the end of 1988, though, I submitted a story which Interzone liked more than the previous ones and in rewritten form it was purchased by the magazine in 1989. The story duly appeared a year later, by which time they had accepted another piece from me.
In the course of writing these early efforts I discovered that I really liked the immediacy of short fiction as a path into publication. Some writers give up on short stories once they land a novel deal (others jump straight to novels) but I have continued to write and sell short stories ever since. I still get nervous when I submit a piece and I am still over the moon when one of them sells.
More recently, I was a guest of honour at Boskone, Boston in 2010. It’s the tradition to issue a Boskone book to mark the honour, and by then we had more stories to draw on for another collection. We also decided to include some earlier material that frankly didn’t make the cut for Zima Blue, but if you’re anything like me once you get interested in an author, you want the complete picture anyway. The Boskone book is called “Deep Navigation” and is very handsome indeed.
Since I continue to be quite prolific, there’s easily enough material for another collection, which I suspect will happen at some point. In the meantime, 2016 saw the release of a very comprehensive retrospective collection: