The Secret History of Science Fiction

James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, eds.

Exploring an alternate history of science fiction, this ingenious anthology showcases eighteen brilliant authors leading the way to a new literature of the future. These award-winning stories defy trends, cross genres, and prove great fiction cannot be categorized. The future is here. Read it.



The Secret History of Science Fiction

by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, eds.

ISBN: 9781892391933

Published: 2009

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback

The Secret Is Out

Exploring an alternate history of science fiction, this ingenious anthology showcases eighteen brilliant authors leading the way to a new literature of the future. These award-winning stories defy trends, cross genres, and prove that great fiction cannot be categorized.

Two strangely detached astronauts orbit Earth while a third world war rages on. A primatologist’s lover suspects her of obsession with one of her simian charges. The horrors of trench warfare dovetail with the theoretical workings of black holes. A dissolving marriage and bitter custody dispute are overshadowed by the arrival of time travelers. An astonishing invention that records the sense of touch is far too dangerous for Thomas Edison to reveal.

The future is here. Read it.

“These stories are good enough to make The New Yorker’s Eustace Tilley pop
his cartoon monocle.”

“A compelling collection…very unique and thought provoking.”
Sacramento Book Review

“All I really want to do, at the moment, is embrace the unsuspecting editors in a massive, spine-crunching bear hug”
Los Angeles Times

“If you’re interested in reading a bunch of stories written by some of the best contemporary writers out there, you’ll like this anthology. If you also want to read some of the best science-fiction stories since the ’70s, you’ll love this anthology.”

James Patrick Kelly is the Hugo, Nebula, and Italia award–winning author of Burn, Think Like a Dinosaur, and Wildlife. He is a member of the faculty of the Stonecoast Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. He has co-edited a series of anthologies with John Kessel, described by the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as “each surveying with balance and care a potentially disputed territory within the field.” Kelly is the technology columnist for Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine and the publisher of the e-book ’zine Strangeways.

John Kessel is a Nebula, Sturgeon, and Locus award winner and the author of Corrupting Dr. Nice, Good News From Outer Space, and The Pure Product. He teaches courses in science fiction, fantasy, and fiction writing at North Carolina State University. His criticism has appeared in Foundation, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the New York Review of Science Fiction, and Science Fiction Age.

Praise for Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology

“Fascinating, and indispensable to any serious SF reader…. Rewired is one of the best imaginable anthologies covering what SF is doing right now….”
—Andrew Wheeler

“…cyberpunk has grown past its rebel stage and is now not only capable of dazzling us with surfaces but also of speaking of the human condition….”

“…an excellent collection and a reminder that the short story is often the best venue for new ideas in the field.”
SF Crowsnest

“…sixteen inspiring, mind-altering stories…and every story in the bunch is a knockout.”

Praise for Feeling Very Strange

“Oh, these stories!… Don’t stop until all have been read.”
Booklist, starred review

“Is slipstream just science fiction and fantasy that doesn’t know that it’s science fiction or fantasy? Or is it more than that? Decide for yourself by slipping into short stories that are superb, whatever you choose to call them, from Lethem, VanderMeer, Chabon, Waldrop and others.”

“At last we have our definitive collection…. And once again, we can rejoice that revolution after revolution will be printed, not televised.”
The Agony Column

“Worth buying? Well if you want to be the hippest cat on the block, then yes.”
SF Crowsnest

“Intriguing stories…plenty of good reading.”
Publishers Weekly

“Leave it to Tachyon, one of the most exhilarating and intellectually probing small presses, to put out a book like this. We hope it makes its way out of what the editors call the ‘ghetto of the fantastic’ and into the mainstream. This book is a joy and could easily become a staple of college syllabi in the not-so-distant future.”
Time Out Chicago

“And though it’s hard to define exactly what is happening, it’s a pleasure to read.”
Susurrus Magazine

“…whether you’re interested in the boundaries of slipstream or not, Feeling Very Strange is a terrific collection of stories….”
Intergalactic Medicine Show

“If you read the contents of Feeling Very Strange in linear order (I recommend that you do), you will actually have a nonlinear, information-building, increasingly exhilarating experience.”
Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 34

“The debate over what, exactly, constitutes the defining aesthetic of slipstream fiction has simmered and seethed for years now and may indeed rage for years to come, but no debate will likely arise over the quality of the selections that Kessel and Kelly have assembled in Feeling Very Strange. Every story here stakes out its own claim and colonizes that territory with authority and authenticity, from Carol Emshwiller’s ‘Al’ through M. Rickert’s ‘You Have Never Been Here,’ with disorienting stopovers in several other exotic locales, whether alien or domestic.

“In fact, I’ve seldom read an anthology in which every story works so well both as a stand-alone and as an element in a greater whole. Heed its contributors and marvel that so diverse a group sings such fine distinctive solos and yet harmonizes so well. Credit Kessel and Kelly, too, for the grace of their introduction, the art of the book’s arrangement, and the modesty of their editorial presence, directing our attention away from themselves and toward either the authors of the stories or the participants in the amusing four-part discussion ‘I Want My 20th-Century Schizoid Art.’

This is an anthology that both entertains and enlightens. SF types will regard Feeling Very Strange as having a significance comparable to that of Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions volumes and Bruce Sterling’s Mirrorshades compendium; aficionados of contemporary literary fiction will have their eyes opened, many times, and readers of every other stamp, if they like both good writing and strong narrative values, will think themselves in Heaven.”
—Michael Bishop

“I expect to wake up as a giant cockroach tomorrow morning. Can anything really be better than that?”
Reading the Leaves

Visit the James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel websites.

Introduction by James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel

“Angouleme” by Thomas M. Disch
“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin
“Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis” by Kate Wilhelm
“Descent of Man” by T.C. Boyle
“Human Moments in World War III” by Don DeLillo
“Homelanding” by Margaret Atwood
“The Nine Billion Names of God” by Carter Scholz
“Interlocking Pieces” by Molly Gloss
“Salvador” by Lucius Shepard
“Schwarzschild Radius” by Connie Willis
“Buddha Nostril Bird” by John Kessel
“The Ziggurat” by Gene Wolfe
“The Hardened Criminals” by Jonathan Lethem
“Standing Room Only” by Karen Joy Fowler
“10^16 to 1” by James Patrick Kelly
“93990” by George Saunders
“The Martian Agent, A Planetary Romance” by Michael Chabon
“Frankenstein’s Daughter” by Maureen F. McHugh
“The Wizard of West Orange” by Steven Millhauser

Other books by this author…