A Brief Chat with Air and Nothingness Press
Updated: May 30, 2022
Todd Sanders is a game, book and graphic designer, and the mastermind behind Air and Nothingness Press.
Air and Nothingness Press is very close to my heart. Not only do I own a large quantity of their catalogue, but one of my short stories, Into the Forest, features in The Wild Hunt: Stories of the Chase. And, I have another story, The Curious Case of the Speaking Telegraph, in the upcoming anthology, Spirit Machine: Tales of Séance Fiction, which is currently funding via a Kickstarter (details below) and pre-orders through the website.
A&N produces beautiful, limited edition hardcover short story collections in a wide variety of speculative genres. The keyword here is innovation. Outside of the box thinking is paramount. Their catalogue includes a trilogy of books which comprise two mashed-up fairy tales written in a genre of the writers choosing, an anthology incorporating tales of the Wild Hunt, stories centred on a world that’s entirely comprised of one mega-city, as well as books by Steph Swainston, the author of the Castle series of books, and much more.
Hello, Todd. Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions. I’m going to jump straight in with a big one. Who are your favourite writers?
I have to divide this into a few categories:
French - André Gide, Paul Valery and Robert Desnos
SF - Cordwainer Smith, Terry Dowling, Alastair Reynolds, Linda Nagata, Karl Schroeder
Fantasy (broader definition here) - Steph Swainston, Karin Tidbeck, Alexey Pehov
I read 3-4 books a week in all manner of subjects and genres, and I’m always on the lookout for someone new, but the above are authors I return to, and reread over and over. What are some of your all-time favourite short stories?
Hmm, tough one, especially since I have all 35 volumes of Gardner Dozios’ Years Best Ofs, and there are a lot of good stories in there that your question has me remembering. However … my picks are not in any of those collections, rather …
“Sewing Whole Cloth” by Terry Dowling - The penultimate Rynosseros story in the collection and an ending I have different emotions about each time I read it.
“All You Zombies” by Robert Heinlein - A time travel story of the first order and a marvel at how it is constructed. Heinlein’s body of work is complicated, but this story is a masterpiece.
“Biographical Notes To ‘A Discourse On The Nature Of Causality, With Air-Planes’ by Benjamin Rosenbaum” by Benjamin Rosenbaum – An alt-history steampunk story where Benjamin Rosenbaum writes himself into his own story (hence the very redundant title) and invents some new concepts in a zeppelin-centric world.
What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to Air and Nothingness?
I am looking for stories that are left of centre and take chances. Not looking for safe or mainstream. I always include the following in my OC guidelines: “Be wild, take chances, submit stories that are left of centre. Show us your fireworks!"
What gave you the idea for the upcoming Spirit Machine anthology?
“Spirit Machine” is an anthology collecting stories that mix the Science Fiction and Steampunk genres with Spiritualism (think mediums, séances, ouija boards, discarnate entities and spirit talking). I am not quite sure where the idea came from. Maybe rewatching some ‘Ghost in the Shell’ episodes and the Japanese animated film ‘Memories’ from 1995 - ‘The Magnetic Rose’ section - around the same time. This idea of ghosts/souls inhabiting robot/android bodies. There is a nice overlap with the film ‘Robot Carnival’ and the ‘Presence’ story, which has some steampunk-ish elements. With Spiritualism dating back to the 1840s, it seemed a good mix to mash SF with Steampunk with Spiritualism. A number of horror writers were interested in the open call, so the final collection of stories has elements of additional genres as well. I am always looking for new subjects for anthologies rather than the usual.
Thank you Todd for taking the time to answer those questions.
Spirit Machine is an anthology collecting 14 new science fiction and 14 new steampunk stories.
Explore unnatural worlds with:
· a traveller who journeys from the battlefields of Europe to America in search of peace
· the caretaker of a graveyard of spaceships
· a woman who has a grievous burden placed on her by her dead family
· ectoplasm astronauts on a doomed spaceship
· a glassblower caught between love and desire
Stories by Elou Carroll, Brandon Crilly, Lin Darrow, Madeline Dau, Derek Des Anges, Jennifer R. Donohue, Louis Evans, Mary Goodden, Jessica Guernsey, Paula Hammond, Elliot Harper (yes, this is me!), Henry Herz, Liam Hogan, Sarah Jackson, Jamie Lackey, Carter Lappin, Steven Lombardi, Brian Low, Will McMahon, Marshall J. Moore, Michael J. Mullen II, Waverly X. Night, Leah Ning, Jude Reid, Alfred Smith, Elizabeth Snow, M. Elzabeth Ticknor, John Walters
Below is the link for the Kickstarter for Spirit Machine. Please take the time to have a look.
(I will have another blog about this book coming in the near future when the anthology is released into the wild.)
Thank you for reading.