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The Anderson Project

The Anderson Project

David G. Hartwell

Introducing The Anderson Project

This group of stories is the second in a series of story groupings based upon a pre-existing work of art, in this case a Richard Anderson painting. The first such group, The Palencar Project, was published by a year ago, and I refer you to my short essay, Introducing the Palencar Project, for an explanation of the rationale for doing stories based on paintings, a long tradition in popular fiction that has apparently fallen out of fashion in recent decades.

I find it intriguing that in two of the stories, the painting itself is part of the setting and plays a role. The relation of illustration to the written word is complex and deep, and is centuries old. Perhaps a lot older. In my imagination there were words in some oral tradition associated with the astonishing cave paintings of the Neanderthals in Europe.

There are a number of ways one can interpret a painting, and I asked the writers in this case to interpret this in the direction of science fiction. As you can tell in particular from the Judith Moffett story, a consideration of the image can evoke a variety of responses. But whatever the image, it becomes a repository of things the writer wishes to express, and becomes embedded in the prose fiction, uniquely in each story.

There were other writers invited to submit work and I anticipate at least a couple of stories appearing in a year or two in other venues that began as drafts for this project, but could not be completed now. The three stories here, though, are finished and accomplished and make a set. They are in my opinion of high quality and it is my hope that you enjoy them.

Those writers and stories are:


The Anderson Project: Book 1

Ken Liu

One of three stories inspired by the same painting by Richard Anderson. Anthologized in The Anderson Project.

Ken Liu is among the most prominent new award-winning SF writers of the last decade, and this vision of a really uncanny alien invasion set in Boston, MA, is a stunner, with echoing reverberations, of love, identity, resistance and revolution.

This story can also be found in the anthology Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Short Fiction (2018), edited by Irene Gallo, and Not One of Us: Stories of Aliens on Earth (2018), edited by Neil Clarke.

Read this story online for free at

Space Ballet

The Anderson Project: Book 2

Judith Moffett

One of three stories inspired by the same painting by Richard Anderson. Anthologized in The Anderson Project.

Give a poet a painting to write a story about and you get "Space Ballet", in which students at the Center for Dream Research struggle to interpret a cryptic precognitive dream, a group effort that may avert a disaster.

Read this story online for free at

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

The Anderson Project: Book 3

Kathleen Ann Goonan

One of three stories inspired by the same painting by Richard Anderson. Anthologized in The Anderson Project.

Kathleen Ann Goonan's stories and novels often evoke a deep desire for some form of utopian future, both better and somehow wilder that the present. This is a story about an animal rights activist and a genius parrot, inter-species communication, and the dream of space, a great leap forward in several ways.

Read this story online for free at