Exclusive Interview: “Multiverses” Editor Preston Grassmann


Though the idea of a multiverse has existed for years — remember evil Spock with the goatee? — the concept is, as the kids say, “having a moment.” Or multiple moments as the case may be. And now they’re having another with the new science fiction short story anthology Multiverses: An Anthology Of Alternate Realities (paperback, Kindle). In the following email interview, Multiverses editor Preston Grassmann discusses what went into assembling this sci-fi collection.

Preston Grassmann Multiverses An Anthology Of Alternate Realities

To start, what is the theme of Multiverses: An Anthology Of Alternate Realities?

I wanted this anthology to be as wide and inclusive as possible, in the spirit of its theme, so each story is its own world. I’ve divided Multiverses into three sections: “Parallel Worlds,” “Alternate Histories,” and “Fractured Realities,” and that covers a broad range of fiction.

Where did you get the idea for Multiverses, and what was it about this idea that made you think it would be a good one for a short story anthology?

Despite the popularity of the word, this is the first anthology of its kind. I really wanted to share a global perspective on “The Multiverse,” taking it beyond the popular Marcel Cinemartic Universe conception. The literary works in science fiction and fantasy that make use of this concept is rather broad, dating much further back in literary history than its contemporary use might suggest.

Multiverses are big these days, thanks largely to the M.C.U., though also their comics, DC Comics, and Star Trek. Did the popularity of multiverses help you in assembling Multiverses in any way?

I’ve enjoyed many of these, and I think its popularity in the media does help to get some attention on this theme. But with this anthology, I was drawing largely on the literary work of favorite writers. Some of them were writing about “The Multiverse” before the term went into the global mainstream.

Now, are the stories in Multiverses reprints or were they written for this collection? Or both?

Most of the stories were written for this anthology, but we do have a few reprints.

Let’s start with the reprints: How did you decide what stories you’d try to get for Multiverses?

As mentioned, this was a global project; I knew that from the beginning. And I wanted to cover a range of themes. Aside from that, large-scale ideas and brilliant writing were my guiding principles here.

So how often, when you asked a writer for a specific story, did they say, “Yeah, you can have that story, but this one might be even better for it?”

That didn’t happen here. The reverse happened a couple of times, as I was considering the overall balance of the book and its different sections.

And then, for the stories written for Multiverses, how then did you get them? Did you approach writers or have an open call for submissions?

As you know, I’ve put together a few anthologies before. But I’m also a writer and a reviewer, with experience moderating panels at World-Con and other conventions. During that time, I’ve had the great fortune of interacting with some of my favorite writers. Some of them have written “Multiverse” stories before, but all of them push boundaries and aren’t afraid to try something new with every story. So I was able to approach most of the writers directly.

And was there anyone who, when they agreed to be in this anthology, prompted you to jump up in delight so fast that you ended up hurting yourself and you really wish I hadn’t asked that because it’s embarrassing but you’re going to answer me anyway because you believe in being honest, especially with people who interview you?

Yeah, definitely. There were many cases of this, and I have the bruises to prove it, but I won’t name names.

Aside from having to fit the theme, what other parameters were there for these stories?

I suggested keeping it within seven-thousand words, but there were no strict limits in terms of length.

Obviously, the stories in Multiverses are sci-fi. But what other genres or sub-genres are represented as well? Like are there sci-fi horror stories, lunarpunk sci-fi, sci-fi mysteries…?

There are pieces here that skirt the edges of many different genres (and subgenres). For example, there are ghostly hauntings of parallel worlds, alternate realities of the future, horror stories set on other planets, and many others. It’s as varied as it can possibly be and it’s better for that. The “Multiverse” should never be constrained.

Multiverses is the third anthology you’ve edited after 2019’s The Unquiet Dreamer: A Tribute To Harlan Ellison and 2021’s Out Of The Ruins. Is there anything you learned putting together those books that made editing Multiverses easier or made Multiverses better or anything like that?

Each book has its own set of challenges, but I do feel that I’m able to get a better sense of balance now, managing my time so I can enjoy the process of putting the book together.

Hollywood loves making sci-fi movies based on short stories. Do you think any of the stories in Multiverses would work particularly well as a movie?

I think the fiction stands firmly on its own. However, I do think some of the stories could be made into phenomenal films. An example: Alastair Reynolds’ “Banish,” which was written for this anthology, is, I think, one of his best. If not a film, I could see it as a phenomenal episode of Black Mirror.

Preston Grassmann Multiverses An Anthology Of Alternate Realities

So, is there anything else you think people need to know about Multiverses?

As I mention in the introduction to the book, if there was ever a time when we were need of a multiverse, it’s here and now. I hope you and your readers enjoy these past and future worlds as much I have.



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