After Cyril’s cremation, I hung around a day or two longer, because there were a couple more things I could do for the Kornbluths. Cyril had left a few unsalable and unfinished fragments, which Mary pulled out for me. I could see where he had given up on them, but I was a more resourceful plotter than Cyril had been. Besides, most of them had that wonderful total command of the medium that Cyril had begun to develop.

I told Mary that I could find ways of turning most of them into actual stories, and if she liked I would do so and sell them, and we would split the money. She said she liked, and so I took them home. (One of them, “The Meeting,” won a Hugo Award, the only Hugo Cyril ever got.)

But I had another, somewhat larger idea. “How,” I asked Mary, “would you like to start a new career as an anthologist?”

That one she liked a lot. It was something that she might perhaps be really good at, because she read a lot and seemed to have definite opinions — all you needed to become a successful anthologist, provided, that is, that you could find a publisher to buy your book.

But that was my job. I paid a call on that most decent of editors, Walter I Bradbury at Doubleday. “It should have a pretty good shot,” I told him. “All of the reviewers know her name, and every one of them liked her husband’s work. There should at least be some sympathy sale, and — ” But I stopped talking there, because Brad had actually been saying “yes” and “all right” as soon as he heard the name.

The book, Science Fiction Showcase, happened as planned. Mary made her choices, I helped her clear the rights. It came out in 1959. It sold some copies. And it disappeared into old-anthology heaven, because what it didn’t have enough personality to make readers want more. I should have worked on that with Mary. I didn’t, though.

There was one unexpected complication. I had been planning to ask the contributors to donate their stories for free, so she would get to keep more of the advance. Mary wouldn’t allow that, though: “No charity. I Will pay what every other anthologist pays.” And so it was.

She sent out checks to all the contributors or their agents. Since a big chunk of the stories she liked came from my agency, she sent the biggest check to me. I hope I had the decency to waive commissions when I gave the writers their share.

 
Most of the more dangerous brushfires that surrounded the Kornbluths now safely extinguished, I went back to my own home and my own work and the long haul.

(And, yes, the long haul is what comes next, after I write it.)

 
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One Comment

  1. Bill Goodwin says:

    And a nice Richard Powers cover, too. I need to find this one for my collection!