Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Books, galleys and outlines

Went to The Book Barn in Longview Saturday - it's a nice second-hand book store (there's no Half Price Books that I know of in East Texas).
I've been there before, but my wife hadn't. She was a little dubious, but as it turned out, she found a bunch of children's books she can use (she's an early childhood education major at Texas A&M-Commerce). She was very happy.
I picked up a good selection: "Tau Zero" by Poul Anderson, "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" by Robert Heinlein (I had this book once, but it got wet and ruined in storage), "Stand on Zanzibar" by John Brunner (I tried to read this book when I was 12, but just couldn't make it), and Arthur C. Clarke's autobiography "Astounding Days".
We later went to the Longview Books a Million. My wife wanted to go because there were some new books she was interested in. I couldn't think of any new release I wanted, but I was somewhat surprised to see Gardner's 20 year compilation "The Best of the Best" anthology on the shelf. It has a publication date of February 2005 and the earliest date I had seen for its release was Jan. 25. Insofar as Saturday was Jan. 22 I was surprised to find it; BAM must have put their copy on the shelf as soon as it arrived.
Of course, I snatched it right up. Saturday night I was on the Asimov's discussion board and Gardner mentioned the book was due out any time now. I posted that I had just picked up my copy. Someone else also later said they found it at their local BAM. They must have put their books right out when they got them.
Anyway, its right up on my shelf now with my other YBSFs.
Sunday I wrote 1,940 words of the first draft of a new story, "The Dragon's Puzzle Box". It's plot is tangential to the story told in "The Cast Iron Dybbuk", the story that ASIM has bought to run this summer.
It's probably 2/3 through. I had to stop and outline the ending. Monday morning I had to cover a meeting that was interrupted for an executive session. I put the time in the hallway to use tweaking that outline.
At any given time I have stories in all stages of development. I have stories ranging in completion from finished first draft to only the first paragraph. I seem to work best when I take a story, mix it up, and then leave it aside to rise for a while - like sourdough.
The story I sold to Asimov's, "A Rocket for the Republic", had three months between finished first draft and completion. One big reason for that was that I moved and changed jobs in the interim. But when I finally finished the story, I did think it had come out pretty good. I remember thinking when I dropped it in the mail, "this is my best shot so far for Gardner." And of course, he did accept it.
I have one story, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", that's been sitting in a first draft form 4 1/2 months. But it's time travel and alternate history - two of the hardest things to sell - so I thought I'd give it the longest time to rise.
I should have been a baker, I guess.
Monday I got the galley for "Rocket" in the mail from Asimov's. I've laid it aside to look at over the weekend. I don't have to have it back to the magazine until Feb. 11, so I've got time.
Right now I have 21 stories in 21 slush piles. That's a lot of sourdough.

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"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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