07 February 2004

What is an Anthology?

Cheryl Morgan reports:
I'm pleased but a little concerned to see The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases listed under Anthology [on the International Horror Guild's shortlist of awards]. Either a book is an anthology or it isn't. Locus says it isn't, the IHG says it is. It is great that the book should get awards, but I worry about controversy here. This leaves the door open for award administrators to arbitrarily disqualify the book because they take one side or the other in the dispute. Here's hoping that the Hugo Administrators let the book in to the Related Book category if enough people vote for it.
Locus may have some esoteric and specific definition of an anthology being a collection of short fiction, but though that may be the definition they and others use for their purposes, it's not the definition of the word "anthology", which originates from the Greek and means, literally, "a collection of flowers" (used in a metaphorical sense to mean flowers of verse by multiple writers collected in one place).

While the Lambshead Guide may not look like an ordinary anthology to the average reader glancing through it, it's a collection of fiction written by a wide variety of authors and collected by a couple of editors (darn good ones at that) ... and that makes it different from an anthology ... how? Just because the fiction included isn't in the standard problem-development-resolution structure doesn't mean that the book itself is not an anthology.