“What if there was a machine that could erase a human memory?” That question spurred so many ideas in Matt Hance’s head that the author decided to curate a collection of stories based on the question. He put out a call for submissions to compose a science-fiction inspired anthology called The Memory Eater: Stories that Erase the Past to Save the Future. The medium is familiar to Hance as his work has previously been published in several short story anthologies. He thought it would be an excellent way to explore all of the possibilities he hoped to explore on the idea, and was surprised when he received over 230 submissions!
“The main goal of this project has been to compile the best art and writing possible in order to serve readers something new and refreshing, especially in the anthology category,” says Hance. “What we have here are stories that will trick the mind. Mystery, suspense, thriller, science fiction—it’s all here. It’s all meant to captivate the reader. To get them excited. To make them think about “what if.”
How do you whittle down over 230 submissions to the 27 stories that will compose the book? Hance started by requesting that all submissions only consisted of the story and the basic contact information for the author. Each story was read and evaluated on its own merits. That allowed unknown authors to be evaluated equally with established authors.
“I read through all of the submissions, marking each with a No, Yes, or Maybe. I cut a lot of stories for various reasons—needed heavy editing, didn’t incorporate the theme, not a strong enough plot, lack of voice, et cetera,” says Hance.
The submission call brought in stories from all over the world. That many stories was a challenge to sort and his wife helped him sift through them. “She’s an avid reader and editor, and really helped me eliminate submissions by reading through them with me and offering her advice.”
When all were read, a pile of about 14-15 Yes stories remained that “were so good they had to be in the book.” Those Yes stories became the foundation for The Memory Eater and when laid out, provided the timeline.
The holes were filled with stories from the Maybe category. “[Those] stories helped tell the bigger story. How the device went from being an urban legend to being used in the present. How it was used in an alternate past, and how, in the future, the device is modified in order to store the past, perform illegal tasks, and to bring equality to the masses.”
Each story stands alone, but the book is meant to be read through and taken as a whole. The constant character of the memory eater changes and develops as you progress through the stories.
The sample stories center on characters who are anxious, struggling to piece together memories and figure things out. “The book is definitely filled with anxiety,” says Hance. “I think that’s a result of the unknown.”
Once he had the stories together, Hance put out a call for artists to illustrate the book. Some of the artists have donated their original prints to contribute to getting the book published.
Currently, it is unknown if this anthology will come to publication, which is turning out to be quite a nail-biter! Hance is using Kickstarter to get The Memory Eater published. The campaign ends on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 7:55am. The project is currently 81% funded, having raised $3,472 of the $4,250 goal.
For a pledge of only $15, you will get a paperback copy of the first-run of The Memory Eater. It will be hand-numbered on the inside.
For $150, you can choose one of the original illustrations.
Sorry, getting to have a character named after you is already sold out as is getting the very first edition.
The plan is to have the book published under Hance LLC, through CreateSpace. Hance hopes to sell the physical books through local retailers such as Cup O’ Joe, on his website, and on Amazon.com.
For more information about the project, visit his blog anthologies2011.blogspot.com and the Kickstarter campaign. You can follow the project on Facebook and Twitter @TheMemoryEater. Click here to view a sample of four stories included in The Memory Eater.