Mark Lefebvre interviews James Alan Gardner and Spider Robinson, co-editors of the Tesseracts Twenty: Compostela anthology.  Compostela means “field of stars” and is most commonly known from the Santiago de Compostela, which, for more than 1,000 years, has attracted pilgrims to walk to the cathedral that holds St. James the apostle’s relics. The stories in this anthology in their own way tell the tale of futuristic travelers who journey into the dark outer (or inner) reaches of space, searching for their own connections to the past, present and future relics of their time.

During the interview, Mark, James, and Spider discuss:

  • compostelaHow the collaboration between James and Spider came to be, and the fun that ensued as the two not only worked on the anthology but also came to learn more about one another’s individual works
  • The logistics of how the two editors, living across the country from one another, worked together on establishing the stories they wanted for this anthology
  • The manner of how the theme of the anthology worked quite interestingly in the curation and selection of the science fiction stories that were submitted, with very few actually being about pilgrimages or based on the Santiago de Compostela
  • The surprise Spider and James experienced when they detected a strong “doom and gloom” feel to many of the stories that were submitted; particularly tales involving misplaced faith in technology
  • The challenge faced when an editor has a large selection of great stories but then had to turn many great writers down
  • The reflection of the intricacies with writing a tight self-contained story and how it is perhaps easier to write novels than a well-defined short story
  • The art of deciphering the quick and sometimes cryptic notes from prestigious short fiction editors like Ben Bova of Analog magazine and how, when paying close attention to the note and attempting a re-write, Spider ended up selling that re-written story to another market
  • The magic of what can happen when a piece of work that had been written years or even decades earlier can still inspire new readers today
  • Jim’s new book All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault which nicely alludes to the often humorous and compelling titles that he has used for many of his own short stories over the years
  • The most intriguing “science-fiction writer reflex” by which almost any bit of news can lead to speculation of “what if” and a sense of marvel and wonder

After the interview, Mark shares some of his own insights about the various ways that working with an editor can help a writer, but it’s critical for the writer to be able to recognize where and how to apply the value that an editor provides to that writer’s own writing and own vision for the story that they want to tell.


Tesseracts Twenty: Compostela – http://www.edgewebsite.com/books/tess20/t20-catalog.html

Compostela on Kobo:   https://www.kobo.com/ebook/compostela-tesseracts-twenty

James Alan Gardner’s Website: https://jamesalangardner.wordpress.com/

James Alan Gardner’s Books on Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/search?query=James%20Alan%20Gardner&fcsearchfield=Author

Jim’s Latest Book:  https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/all-those-explosions-were-someone-else-s-fault

Spider Robinson’s Website:  http://www.spiderrobinson.com/

Spider Robinson’s Books on Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/search?query=Spider%20Robinson&fcsearchfield=Author


jamesJames Alan Gardner is an award-winning writer, editor and teacher of science fiction and fantasy. He has published nine novels and a host of short stories in leading SF&F outlets. In addition to writing, Jim is strongly interested in math and geology. In his spare time, he teaches kung fu to kids and (unsuccessfully) to his rabbit.


spderSince he began writing professionally in 1972, Spider Robinson has won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo Awards, a Nebula Award, and countless other international and regional awards. Most of his 36 books are still in print, in 10 languages and his short work has appeared in magazines around the planet, including Omni and Analog. In 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award for Lifetime Excellence in Literature.

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