Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's with the Republic?


I had a thought today - my two most prominent stories (Rocket for the Republic, and the Witch of Waxahachie) both are set in the Republic of Texas, both real and fantasy.

Strange, given that I was born in Massachusetts, went to college in New York, and didn't move to Texas until I was 28.

OH, btw, I also noticed both stories have alliterative titles.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

More from Spiral Galaxy

In my last post, I copied the part of the critique of Baen's Universe from Spiral Galaxy Reviews that covered my story in the overall context of the issue. Here is Karen Burnham's actual appraisal of the story:

Next we get the science fantasy by Lou Antonelli, titled "The Witch of Waxahachie." The hero is a newspaper editor who tags along as a scientist tries to run one last experiment on the incomplete ruins of the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas. (They claim this is being done secretly. You really can't power up something like the SSC quietly, but it's easy to give the author that bit of hand-waving.) After the inevitable catastrophe, they find they're in the same place, but the SSC is gone, the road is dirt, there's no cars... They hitch a ride into town, and luckily get to an encyclopedia set before being picked up by the authorities. (A trick also used by Robert Heinlein's world-hoppers in Job and The Number of the Beast. An excellent argument for never going completely digital—how else will dimension-hopping protagonists gather the vital information they need?) In this new world, the advances of the Enlightenment focused on magic instead of science. It turns out that each person exists in both universes, and their different fates are sobering. They get back home relatively easily after comparing notes with the folks they know on the other side. It looks like Antonelli is setting up a story cycle here, since at the end the narrator reminisces about other adventures they've had with their other-world counterparts. This is a fun story with a lot of potential in the world-building, so I'll look forward to other stories in this setting.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A very good observation

Karen Burnham has critiqued the latest issue of Baen's Universe on a web site called Spiral Galaxy Reviews. She had an opinion on the boundary between s-f and fantasy, and my story was part of the discussion:

"Baen's has an unusual practice of explicitly segregating their science fiction stories from their fantasy stories. This can provide fodder for the ever-popular "Guess the Genre Label!" game.

"For Mike Resnick's story in this issue, it's an easy call. It's set on another planet, it's got aliens—no problem, it's sf. Things get a little trickier with Sarah Hoyt's story. It features the possible reappearance of a figure from the past to help a woman deal with her issues. At the end the figure disappears. The choice here is between reading it as mainstream (everything is rational and she's slightly delusional) or fantasy (an ancient king reincarnated for a day just to help her with her relationship issues—totally!), not between fantasy and sf. This is clearly a genre magazine, so clearly the story must be generic—fantasy it is!.

"It may have been a bit harder to categorize Lou Antonelli's story. It's got a multiple-worlds thing going, where one world is science-based (Superconducting Super Collider) and one is magic-based (animal telepathy). His world-building indicates that the basis for this split lies not in differing physical laws but differing research grant allocations. This is really a science fantasy, the sort of thing that John W. Campbell banished to the pages of Unknown back in olden times. Unknown was a place where Analog (Astounding back then) authors could go to "let their hair down," i.e. not be "scientifically rigorous." (Stop laughing.) It spawned such tales as The Compleat Enchanter series by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt. Here Eric Flint seems to have applied the same general philosophy that Campbell did. Let's call it the one drop rule: one drop of fantasy makes it a fantasy. It's probably the only realistic way to draw the line if you're going to be throwing labels around, but thinking about it made me giggle a bit. On to the stories themselves!"

This is pretty sharp. I have to give her credit. I will next post her actual review of my story.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The One to Watch redux

Adrian Simmons has collected the answers to the questionaire he put out for "The Ones to Watch". One of his subjects from last yea, Shawn Scarber, has dropped off the radar, so it looked like we're down to four - myself, Pat Rothfuss, Jennifer Pelland and Linda Donahue. He hopes to get the article picked up again by the Internet Review of Science Fiction.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm tired

As is so often the case, when you need luck, you don't get it. In my current job, I seldom have to work nights, but a conflict between two meetings required me to work until 8:30 p.m. last night. I didn't get into Dallas until 11:30 p.m. I was up at 6:30 to make sure I could get through Dallas traffic. Thankfully, I had no problems getting to the hotel in North Dallas in time for the 9 a.m. cattle call.

The process consisted on a 50-question written test, a mock playing of the game, and a chatty interview afterwards. I guess I probably got 45-47 of the questions correct. There's a few I know I got wrong. I pulled up completely blank with one, and I simply wrote "I have no damn idea".

Unfortunately with my carpal tunnel syndrome it's hard for me to work the buzzer. I'm proud I did as well in the live round as I did - but I was the only person there who dropped the buzzer.

Myself and the other people who were there today will be a part of 1,000 person pool from which the Jeopardy contestants will be drawn from for an 18-month period. The game will probably need 400 people to go on the air.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wish me luck

I have been remiss is posting recently, but I'm going great guns finishing up "Dance with me, Henry" - my first stab at a book - and quite frankly, I haven't been thinking much about the blog.

Tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. I have to be at the Westin Park Central Hotel for my audition and interview to appear on Jeopardy! If I make it through the 2 1/2 hour process, it will be eiligible to go on to Los Angeles.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Alternate hit

In light of the fact that I'm in the thick of completing an alternate history novel, I thought I'd post this video. This song was the No. 1 Billboard hit on the day John F. Kennedy was shot:

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A mixed review

A short fiction ezine called The Fixx (based in the U.K. I believe) also has reviewed the April issue of Baen's. This is what Aliette de Bodard had to say:

"In “The Witch of Waxahachie” by Lou Antonelli, the narrator is a journalist in the titular town who takes part in an illegal experiment involving string theory—and finds himself yanked into an alternate dimension where the Industrial Revolution has been replaced by the Magical Revolution.

"I enjoyed the details of the alternate history world and the sense of dislocation the characters felt throughout. Overall, though, the general levity made it hard to be drawn in, and my interest started to falter well before the end.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A positive review

I guess there will be a few mentions and reviews of "The Witch of Waxahachie" now that it's been published in Baen's Universe. Here is what Sam Tomaino had to say on-line at SFRevu, as part of his review of the entire issue:

"Next comes "The Witch of Waxahachie" by Lou Antonelli. Larry Anglen is a newspaper editor in Waxahachie, Texas, near the old super-collider. In this story, set in 1997, an experiment with the equipment sends Larry, two friends and a dog into an alternate universe where the laws of magic, not science, were codified. The Larry of this world is dead but they meet other people who correspond to people in their world. One of them, Penelope Pennoyer is a judge in their world and a sorceress in this one, where Waxahachie is part of the Republic of Texas with Buddy Holly as president. The story has some hilarious in-jokes, which I won't spoil, and is thoroughly enjoyable."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Missing Howard

Sunday morning, on the way out of Austin from the Nebulas, I called Howard Waldrop. I promised him I would try to drop in. But he wasn't there - turns out he went out right before I called to hook up with Walter Jon Williams (another person I met for the first time that weekend). I left Howard a message on his answering machine; he replied with a letter.

Ah, timing is everything.

My submissions log is slowly depleting as I spend all my time finishing up "Dance with Me Henry" and neglect the short fiction for a while.

Latest reviews

"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

In a spare, swift, convincing narrative style, conveying in a deadpan voice a wide array of sometimes Paranoid suppositions about the world, Antonelli juxtaposes realities with very considerable skill, creating a variety of Alternate Worlds, some of them somewhat resembling the constructions of Howard Waldrop, and making some sharp points about American history, race relations, dreams, and occasional nightmares in which the twentieth century goes wrong. [JC]

---From the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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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