Clarke launched science fiction and fantasy magazine Clarkesworld in 2006. It’s gone on to win the Hugo Award for best semiprozine three times and has published work by genre notables including Catherynne M. Valente and N.K. Jemisin. In July, Night Shade will release the Clarke-edited anthology The Eagle Has Landed: 50 Years of Lunar Science Fiction. He spoke with PW about the past and future of moon-related fiction.
You write in your intro about a lull in lunar science fiction after Apollo 11. What happened?
We landed on the moon and everyone was immediately on television talking about how we were going to build bases there, and families were going to be born in space; it was taken for granted that these were things we would do. So science fiction writers and editors abandoned the moon; it was considered news, not science fiction. They didn’t look back for a long time.
The stories in your book pick up several years after the landing, in 1976, and proceed chronologically. How had space science fiction changed?
The first story in the anthology, “Bagatelle” by John Varlet, was one in a lunar detective series. That was a trend in the early years. These days, moon stories also depict a far greater range of life out there—from the perspective of a regular person, to the military science fiction side of things, to exploration and engineering. I started to see more stories happening around the 30th anniversary of the moon walk—a couple of moon anthologies were done and authors were using the moon as territory again. Now that we’re talking about going back, we’ll see if this scares off science fiction writers again—I hope it doesn’t.
Tell us about the most recent stories in the anthology.
The last six stories in the book are from the last six years. They include “The Moon Is Not a Battlefield” by Indrapramit Das, an Indian writer, and “Every Hour of Light and Dark” by Nancy Kress, one of the more established authors in science fiction, which was in Omni two years ago.
What’s next for space-related SF?
We’re seeing space exploration come up more frequently. Stories are also becoming more outward-looking, with hope for the future. A lot of people at NASA are science fiction fans; some of them have said that’s why they got into the field—reading this stuff when they were younger inspired them to make these things a reality. We need more of that. We need to start dreaming about these amazing opportunities that exist for us beyond the next two years. Science fiction can provide a window to some possible scenarios for how to get there, and what to look out for along way.