Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

The Apocalypse Triptych

COVER ART FINAL 1 RGB 600

Ah, lookie here! The APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH has been announced over at io9, which means I can finally talk about the set of anthologies I’ve been working on with John Joseph Adams. We’re looking at a June 2014 release—there will be a lot more news coming up well before then. Also, before the first book comes out, we’ll have a story or two you can read for free over on the website dedicated to the books.

Before explaining how the triptych came about, I thought I’d share my crazy story about meeting John Joseph Adams for the first time. John emailed me out of the blue over a year and a half ago to ask if I had anything I’d like to submit to Lightspeed magazine (for which he’s been nominated for several Hugo awards as best editor). I thought this was pretty cool. Lightspeed is one of the great modern SF anthologies, the kind I used to collect rejections letters from. Getting an invite to submit was a helluvan improvement.

I told him I’d see if anything came up. I had just written my first Kindle Single about that time and was hoping to return to writing short stories. But I was also very busy with SHIFT and I, ZOMBIE, so I was doubtful I’d get anything submitted.

WorldCon came around, and John and I made a point to get together in Chicago to meet in person. The editor’s #1 job is to browbeat writers into writing, as it turns out. By now, I’d read John’s excellent WASTELANDS anthology and was a massive fan of his keen eye, reading tastes, and editorial work. He, his wife, and I had lunch together in downtown Chicago and really hit it off. As we got back to the hotel, I asked John where  he had lived over the years. He mentioned Florida. I told him that I was about to move back to Florida and that my wife was from there. He asked what part, and I told him Fort Pierce.

“I went to high school in Port St. Lucie,” John says.

“Where?” I ask.

“Lincoln Park Academy.”

“That’s where my wife went to school,” I say.

“How old is she?” John asks.

“Thirty-six,” I say.

“Me too,” John says. “What was her name?”

At this point, I already had goosebumps. We’re talking a class size of less than 200. Same school and same year. I was standing by the river in Chicago with a person I had met through my writing who now lives clear across on the west coast.

“Her name is Amber,” I say.

John couldn’t believe it. He remembered Amber very well. They sat in the same class. So we spaz out while his wife looks on politely, and I have to call Amber right then to tell her, and Amber is screaming on the phone for me to tell John hello. Bizarro, right?

Later, John followed up on our meeting and asked about contributing to various anthologies he was working on. I wrote a short called DEEP BLOOD KETTLE that November that I thought he might enjoy. I fired it off and kept my fingers crossed. It got published in Lightspeed and won a recommend from a well-respected  critic. Two other stories followed, both of which will appear in future anthologies of his. My love of the short form was renewed.

And then John comes up with the idea of a trilogy of anthologies. Known as THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH, the first of the three books deals with pre-apocalyptic settings; the second occurs during the apocalypse, and the third the post-apocalyptic. Ideas fire back and forth. We think about authors who might span their stories across all three books. Authors who might just write for one or the other. We decide to self-publish the work so we can really do whatever we want. John makes a list of the authors he’s worked with in the past, and I make a list of indie authors who I think might want to contribute. Things start coming together.

While I was over here on this wild European book tour, we started talking about cover art. It was getting to be time to make an announcement, so I got in touch with an artist on DeviantArt named Julian Faylona whose work I love. Julian came up with the brilliant banner you see up top. The awesome Jason Gurley hit us up with the incredible title design. When you put the three books together, you will get a single unbroken image, as above. Cool, eh? I have to thank my Korean and Japanese publishers for the inspiration.

But of course the star of this show is the stories. Wow. We have a handful submitted, and there are a few already that are going to blow readers away. One of them is probably the best short story I’ve read in the last decade. Another feels like a near-certain Nebula nominee. Every time another comes in, I get more and more excited.

Of course, I had to come up with something for the books as well. I started an alien invasion piece a few months ago that I’ve had in mind for a while. But while I was writing it, DUST came out, and I started getting a flood of emails begging me for one more story in the world of the silo. So I decided I’d keep the invasion pieces for another time and write three WOOL stories, one from the before, one from during, and one from after. The triptych has given me an excuse to revisit a place I didn’t think I would ever see again. I’m excited as hell about that. I hope you are too.

12 replies to “The Apocalypse Triptych”

Awesome news, Hugh! Will the three volumes be available on Kindle? Will the short stories be available individually or only in the volumes? (Didn’t you post earlier about readers building their own anthologies? Hint. Hint.)

Yeah, I wish those systems were already in place. We’re going to charge something like $5.99 for all of these stories. There are two short stories already submitted that make this price a bargain.

although I will certainly buy this for kindle, if it’s kindle only, I kinda still prefer having an actual book to hug (and read). would definitely buy a physical copy if it’s available.

Really really cool idea,,, love the project.

But i need an limited anthology signed by all authors. Do you plan somethin like this?

This sounds awesome Hugh. Keep this up and I’m happy to send a couple bucks your way for whatever you write (or endorse, look at the power you have now). The dollars to entertainment value is hard to beat.

Thanks for the inspiration too. I’m still trying to edit the wrinkles out of my kids book. Any thoughts on my art style? http://www.cindercast.com

By the way… its also a really interesting and fantastic news that next year Subterraain Press will print a signed and limited edition of WOOL… Yeah, i really look forward to this book and the graphics they will include…!

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