Introduction by John Joseph Adams

Like the fictional crowdfunding projects depicted in these stories, this anthology itself was rather improbable. It was one of those ideas that just sort of struck as a bolt of inspiration, and it seemed so fun that I had no choice but to pursue it once it occurred to me. (Even though, at the time, I was super busy and the last thing I needed was another anthology on my plate!)

It all started when I was reading submissions for Lightspeed, the digital science fiction/fantasy short fiction magazine I edit. I came across a story by Keffy R.M. Kehrli called “HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!” which was told in the form of a fictional Kickstarter pitch. My first thought when I read the story was: This story is really funny. My second thought was: I should build an anthology around it. My third thought was: Obviously the anthology should be published via a crowdfunding campaign.

So I bought the story for Lightspeed and, with Keffy’s permission, built an anthology around it, and thus HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects was born. And, as I mentioned, once I conceived of the idea for the book, it was obvious that it was a project that would have to be funded via Kickstarter. (Because how meta and cool is that?) So in October 2013, we launched our campaign to fund the project. We went into it seeking $6,000, and ended up raising more than $11,000, or 185% of our funding goal. Thanks so much to all of you who backed the project and made the anthology possible.

And so what does it mean exactly to tell a story in the form of a fictional crowdfunding pitch? Well, the stories all use the components (and restrictions) of the standard crowdfunding format to tell the story. This includes but is not limited to: Project Goals, Rewards, User Comments, Project Updates, FAQs, and more. The idea was to replicate the feel of reading a crowdfunding pitch, so that even though these projects may be preposterous in the real world, they feel like authentic crowdfunding projects as much as possible.

In an effort to lend more of that feeling of verisimilitude to the project, we also tried to make the formatting of the stories resemble crowdfunding projects in every way we could think of. We were somewhat limited by the constraints of ebook formatting standards, but we’re quite happy with the results and we think you will be too. (For more about the formatting, please see the “Formatting Note” following this introduction.)

We ended up with thirty-three stories—thirty-two never-before-published tales, plus a reprint of Keffy’s eponymous story that inspired the book—covering a wide range of styles and themes. The stories range from comedies like Jonathan Howard’s “Help Me Destroy Cannes!” or Veronica Belmont’s “CatAssassins!” to dystopian tales such as Jake Kerr’s “A Memorial to the Patriots”; to satires, like Kat Howard’s “Locally Grown, Organic”; to spacefaring tales such as Andrew Penn Romine’s “The Spirit of Mars” or Sylvia Spruck Wrigley’s “You Only Live Once”; to the super-weird like Matt Williamson’s “So Juicy Transforming Strips”; to somber tales of love and loss such as Carmen Maria Machado’s “Help Me Follow My Sister Into the Land of the Dead.”

So if what you’ve always been looking for in a Kickstarter—and couldn’t find—was a project that allowed you to protect yourself from spoilers, buy wishes, find lost objects, or support a wildlife preserve for supernatural creatures, then HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects may be just the thing you’ve been looking for.