Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Talking to the Rotary

My boss at the newspaper belongs to the local Rotary Club (I belong to the Optimist Club) and Tuesday was his day to provide the luncheon meeting's program. He asked me a few months ago if I'd be the guest.

He introduced me by saying that when he interviewed me for the job, and we chatted about my hobbies, I was certainly the first editor he ever knew who wrote science fiction.

Having served on dozens of con panels by now, I gave what I feel was a quick but useful overview of the genre, focusing on Texas's role. I brought a few books, and reading some of the blurbs was very entertaining for the crowd.

My texts were the three "Republic of Texas" books by Daniel daCruz (The Ayes of Texas, Texas on the Rocks, and Texas Triumphant), "The Texas Israeli War: 1999", "For Texas and Zed" and "A Spectre is Haunting Texas".

I also mentioned "A Canticle for Liebowitz", pointing out the role Texarkana plays in the story, and that next year is the 50th anniversary of its release.

The talk was well received, and I even had a few people visit with me afterwards.

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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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