EDITOR INTERVIEW: Mahvesh Murad (The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 4)

Mahvesh Murad, a book reviewer and podcast host of Midnight in Karachi for Tor.com, is stepping into the editor role for our fourth volume of The Apex Book of World SF. Lavie Tidhar will be remain as series editor. We're excited to see what type of anthology Mahvesh will put together - to find out what a new set of eyes can bring to the World SF series - and she was kind enough to answer a few questions we had about how she came to be the new editor, and her thoughts on how the project will come together.

Apex Publications: Volumes 1 - 3 of The Apex Book of World SF edited by Lavie Tidhar have all been successful and incredibly well received. How is it that you came to take the lead as editor of the fourth volume?

Mahvesh Murad: To be perfectly honest, I straight up asked. Lavie knew me through my previous radio show (he had been a guest) and my reviews, and I’d always admired the effort he put in to finding and promoting SF from all over the world so I’d been asking him about the next volume and since he’s been busy writing his own novels, I told him I’d gladly help out. I wasn’t certain he and Jason (Sizemore) would take me up on it but I’m thrilled that they did.

AP: What is your plan for selecting stories? Any areas of the world you are particularly interested in focusing on? Authors you would love to work with?

MM: The plan is to read, the plan is always to read! I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and get to know a lot of writers in the field so I’ve been reaching out to some of them too, for suggestions and leads on things they may have read from their indigenous countries that haven’t crossed my path. I’m not considering focusing on any one part of the world, but I do want to feature stories from places we don’t hear much from in mainstream genre publishing. I would love to find stories from say the First Nations of Canada, Maori writers, South American writers, stories from Turkey or perhaps even the Emirates? Of course, since I’m Pakistani, I couldn’t possibly ignore my bit of the world even if I tried! I’d love to find stories from the subcontinent as well as writers from a little further East - Malaysia, Korea, Japan. Hell, I’m wide open - anyone have a story in English by a female writer from Nepal or Papua New Guinea? Send it my way, please!

AP: With The Apex Book of World SF 3, Lavie Tidhar branched out from science fiction a bit, including both fantasy and horror stories in the collection. Do you plan to continue with this approach, or is your goal to choose science fiction stories exclusively?

MM: One of the things I loved in particular about World SF 3 was just this - that it wasn’t restricted to a narrow or conservative definition of science fiction. I personally use that term fairly loosely so I’m really glad that Lavie is open to us doing so too. SF can mean such different things to different people - why not use that to try to incorporate as much quality fiction as you can? Plus, how great would some Japanese horror be? I’d even like to have some YA SF in the mix, if we can!

AP: There can be a lot of challenges that come along with editing an anthology. What do you think will be the biggest challenge with The Apex Book of World SF 4, and what are your plans for dealing with those challenges?

MM: Trying to find something in English from everywhere in the world is hard. I’m greedy - I really do want something from everywhere! I’m going about it slowly and thanking Lavie for being such a great resource. We’re also not repeating any of the writers who have been featured in the previous volumes, which has at times felt like a bit of a loss because I am a fan of a great many of them and would love to include more of their stories, but at the same time I know how important it is to showcase other names too. Of course, finding work that is translated into English is a challenge as well - there’s obviously fantastic stuff out there in different languages that we just can’t read.

AP: You review a lot of books. Do you think this will be an asset when editing The Apex Book of World SF 4?

MM: I’m really not sure. One would assume that it would, since I review all sorts of books for different audiences and have done so on radio, print, and the internet so I do read widely. But a review is ultimately a personal opinion, isn’t it? I think curating stories for an anthology is different though, because sometimes you may pick a story that may not be to your personal taste but one that you recognise as important to a particular style, genre, history, or even geographical location (for instance), or a story that has an alternate world view that adds to the greater narrative of SF.

AP: In your opinion, what is the most exciting part of this project? What are you the most excited to share with readers?

MM: I’m excited to discover new voices and I’m excited to share them with readers. There’s been so much great conversation about diversity of voices, of writers and of narratives recently, and it would be fantastic to help add to that.

AP: Thank you so much, Mahvesh, for answering our questions. I'm certain that The Apex Book of World SF 4 will be just as fantastic as the first three volumes in the series. I can't wait to read it!

Order The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 4 from Apex Books