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Just learned tonight on Twitter that an editor I hold responsible for increasing and cementing my interest in the short story had died *three years ago*!
Martin H. Greenberg was his name, and if you were like me, in the 1990s on up, into speculative fiction AND a lover of the short story, you probably read any of his countless anthologies. That is, by himself or in a collaboration.
For instance, his "Cat Fantastic" series that he co-edited with one of my favorite authors Andre Norton.
I discovered the Cat Fantastic books in 11th grade when our high school had a book fair. I have been drawn to cats all my life. I often read cat-themed books, such as Andre Norton's "Breed To Come" and Tad Williams' "Tailchaser's Song" and that pretty much set me up.
Fast forward nine years later, and I published my first short story.
What does becoming a short story author have to do with Martin H. Greenberg? Well, school, especially in middle and high, English classes encouraged and commanded that the student read a variety of writing styles, the only way to be well-read in such a short time as a semester meant reading an English textbook anthology.
We have all read them, regardless of when we attended school. It is usually the thickest text we have in our book bag, and it will have samples of Shakespeare to Henry James to Virginia Woolf to James Joyce to Phyllis Wheatley. Yet, these stories could either touch us, enlighten us, or fill us with boredom.
The anthology is usually how many readers are introduced to new writers or get re-acquainted with old writers.
So, by the time I found that fateful book at my high school's book fair, I was already inundated by a public school system that had trained me to do much of my reading through short stories and by a variety of them, according to each anthology's theme.
There is a debt to be paid. One that I can never give to Mr. Martin H. Greenberg. I did not have a chance to speak with him, nor had I ever the inkling to communicate with him. What I did was keep buying the anthologies he edited.
Cat Fantastic II introduced me to many of the authors I now read, and to the further possibilities that exist within speculative fiction. I believe reading this anthology and others in the Cat Fantastic series made me a better reader, helped to mold me into a discriminating reader, and inspired me to become a writer and a better one at that.
So Thank You, Mr. Greenberg. I owe you much.