Friday, July 31, 2009

Credit where it's due

At the start of the week I dropped a few notes in the mail to some authors whom I've gotten to know over the years and whose stories I cited in the SF Signal Mind Meld piece - Gardner Dozois, Michael Swanwick, Maureen McHugh, Howard Waldrop (I had called Brad Denton on the phone the day the article came out because I was so impressed that I wasn't the only person who cited "Sergeant Chip".) I wanted them to know, in case they didn't read SF Scope, that I had "taken their name in vain", as it were.

I also dropped a note to Steven F. Murphy, because I cited his 2007 Interzone story "Tearing Down Tuesday". Murph made the following nice comments on his blog yesterday:

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Lou Antonelli plugs "Tearing Down Tuesday" at SFSignal.com

"I got a bit of snail mail this week from Texas science fiction writer Lou Antonelli with some good news. He gave me a plug for Tearing Down Tuesday in his SFSignal.com Mind Meld contribution to the topic, “Memorable Short Stories to Add to Your Reading List, Part Two.” For those wondering, we know each other from the Asimov’s Forums back when Asimov’s was run by Gardner Dozois and sanity reigns therein. Further, Lou’s was the last story purchased by Gardner before he stepped down.

"Lou has a new story collection coming out from Wilder Publications called Fantastic Texas. Many of his stories are set in his balliwick of Texas and he is one of the few writers who do not resort of all of the negative rural stereotypes in his stories. If I were putting together an anthology of positive American Midwest Rural stories, Lou would be one of the authors I’d contact.

"He is also, for the record, one of the three people who identified Rev. Caldwell J. Robinson for the cardboard character that he is. Though I’d argue that Robinson had to be that way for the story to sell and also as a bit of a red herring for the ending. Still, Lou raises a valid criticism that went largely unnoticed elsewhere in the community.

"So, thanks for the kind words, Lou.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Spinning the wheels...

I kind of hit a writer's block at the start of this week, a combination of coming to a crucial place in "Desarralo Separado" as well as the shock of Patricia having to leave and stay with her mom suddenly on Monday. Mom-in-law is recuperating from a shoulder operation and can't drive. Some friends, and especially Patricia's aunt, have been helping her. The aunt took ill and went to the hospital suddenly on Monday and Patricia had to take off pretty quickly. I'm sad to hear the aunt has been diagnosed with color cancer; I hope they caught it fairly early. In the meantime Patricia is staying with her mom as a caregiver.

I decided to lay "Desarrolo Separado" aside for a while, and I've made a couple of starts on stories I'm sure I will come back to - "Sympathy for Salieri" and "Agni Malish" - but I had to take another break. I came up with a good idea; instead of writing, I did some editing and redacted the first chapter of "Dance With Me Henry" into a short story. That seems to have gotten me in the groove again. I will keep working on it over the weekend.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Given their due

This just in: Tor.com is SFWA’s newest qualifying short fiction market. Today the board of directors of SFWA unanimously voted to add Tor.com to the list of SFWA qualifying markets. Just celebrating its first year online, this extension of Tor Books features science-fiction and fantasy fiction as well as art, non-fiction, essays, and book review

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In case you missed it...

Here is my portion of the Mind Meld feature which was posted by SF Signal on Wednesday:

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Lou Antonelli


Lou Antonelli has had 43 stories published in the past six years in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia in place such as Asimov's Science Fiction, Jim Baen's Universe, Dark Recesses and Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine. He has had ten honorable mentions in The Year's Best Science Fiction (St. Martin's Press, Gardner Dozois, ed.). His Texas-themed reprint collection Fantastic Texas is forthcoming from Wilder Publications. He lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas, with his wife, Patricia, and is managing editor of the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune

Some of the first stories that made a big impression of me were from the Silver Age of the 1950s that were just being anthologized when I was a kid growing up in the 1960s. Some of those stories included:

"The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke. Well-written with a clever as well as awe-inspiring ending, it made a big impression on me. Same goes for his story "The Star."

"Disappearing Act" by Alfred Bester. In retrospect, Bester was my favorite author when I was young, and this was the most memorable story for me, again, because of the ironic ending.

"The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin. A story that made a big impression on me because of how much I hated it, I've come up with a dozen ways over the years in my head how the problem in the story could have been solved without killing the stowaway. I guess I'm a humanist at heart; I feel science was made to serve man, not the other way around.

I read very little original s-f in the 1960s and 1970s while I was in junior high, high school and then college. "Eyes Do More Than See" by Isaac Asimov, published in 1965, is one story I remember. It is a very sentimental story that made helped me realize that I am, at heart, a very sentimental person.

I was a big fan of Omni in the 1980s and one of the stories I liked the best from that era was "Wild, Wild Horses" by Howard Waldrop. It is a magnificent piece of droll secret history, with some wistful twists, and it helped me realize what kind of fiction I might write myself one day. "Flying Saucer Rock and Roll", another Waldrop Omni story from that era, is one of the most fun things I've ever read.

"His Power'd Wig, His Crown of Thornes" by Marc Laidlaw, another Omni story from the '80s, impressed me at the time with the potential of alternate history.

More recently, I'd cite "The Lincoln Train" by Maureen McHugh, published in 1995. Another great alternate history story that centers on the seminal event of American history, the Civil War.

"A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows" by Gardner Dozois. Published in 1999, it impressed me with a realistic vision of the perils and promise of Transhumanism, with the humanity of the protagonist at the very core of the story.

"The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-o" by Michael Swanwick, published in 2000, was a very clever tale on the creation of archetypes. As a journalist for over 30 years now, I see the same crazy stuff over and over again, and it struck a chord with me.

Stories from this century I find memorable include "Sergeant Chip" by Brad Denton (F&SF, Sept. 2004), a well-written futuristic story with a canine protagonist who was honestly depicted; both Sergeant Chip and the story had a lot of integrity; "Just Like the Ones We Used to Know" by Connie Willis (Asimov's, Dec. 2003), clever, compelling, entertaining and extremely well written; and "Tearing Down Tuesday" by Steven Francis Murphy (Interzone, May 2007) which impressed me with how there are brand new writers out there who can still write the Good New Stuff.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Published

The set of Mind Meld interviews was published on SF Signal today. Very interesting choices, and the coincidences were interesting. I was glad to note, for example, I was not the only subject who cited Brad Denton's "Sergeant Chip".

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mind Meld with me

John DeNardo at the science fiction blog SF Signal asked me last week if I'd participate in their ongoing interview feature, "Mind Meld", which asks a member of the science fiction community to answer one question in depth. I agreed, and my question was "What are some of your favorite stories in sf/f/h and what makes them so memorable?"

I spent some time today writing up my response and I shot it off to him. It should be published on SF Signal on Wednesday.

Otherwise, spent more time on "Desarrolo Separado". I'm concerned to keep the story from needlessly ballooning into a novelette. but after today I think it can be done.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back to the outline list

Had to spend a few days taking care of some accumulated chores, plan to get back to "Desarallo Separado" today and try to keep with with the list of outlines that is constantly rising like sourdough.

I've had a story idea for an alternate history whereby the Soviet Union makes it to the present day. The anniversary of the moon landing seems to have made the solution of a crucial plot element rise to the top. It also ties in with another story idea I've had had, whereby a de facto independent Texas sends a fellow as its rep to a lunar colony, kind of as a punishment. The working title of this one "Back in the Lun' S.S.R."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Latest pub

Got home this afternoon and found my author's copies of the June-July issue of the Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America in the mailbox, with my interview with Tom Doherty, the founder of Tor books. I originally interviewed Mr. Doherty last fall for a story that ran on the Entertainment page of my newspaper. The interview was extensive enough that I wrote up this second story for the Bulletin afterwards.

A web site maintained by a Texana librarian recently linked up with my two web sites, my personal blog and the blog I've established for my upcoming "Fantastic Texas" collection. Thanks, Will Howard!

http://texasparlor.blogspot.com/2009/07/fantastic-texas-and-lou-antonelli.html

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The mechanics of writing

The acceptance of "Dispatches from The Troubles" (which is a dystopian Texas alternate history) by GUD got me thinking about an old story I started some time ago and then laid aside. It was a stab at a Texas future history, "Desarollo Separado". I started on it last week from scratch and got up to 2,700 words when I stopped for a few days.

Meanwhile I had a chore to do last weekend, which involved going through a box of old floppy disks. In the process I reorganized and re-labeled some of them, including disks which held backed-up s-f stories, and I found the disk that held the original version of "Desarollo". I didn't realize how long ago it was since I wrote it; at least six years.

Anyway, I read over my original start to the story, and realized I had written a good beginning, and maybe a good end - and didn't have the shakes to actually make a story of it. I copied the old text into my new version (the two parts were almost the same length) and I think I can actually put it all together.

I read all the time of authors who've written stories in segments, or who've spliced stories together, and I see from this example how that can happen. I think story scenes will actually benefit from the differing tones caused by the years of separation. It's almost like collaborating with yourself. It makes me think about going back to other false starts and seeing if I can ramp them up again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A death in the family

The science fiction world was stunned today to learn of the death of Charles N. Brown, the founder and publisher of the trade journal Locus. He died in his sleep while returning to California from the Readercon convention in Massachusetts. Apparently some confidants were told overnight, and then at noon today the publication posted this information on its web site:

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Locus publisher, editor, and co-founder Charles N. Brown, 72, died peacefully in his sleep July 12, 2009 on his way home from Readercon.

Charles Nikki Brown was born June 24, 1937 in Brooklyn NY, where he grew up. He attended the City College of New York, taking time off from 1956-59 to serve in the US Navy, and finished his degree (BS in physics and engineering) at night on the GI Bill while working as a junior engineer in the '60s. He married twice, to Marsha Elkin (1962-69), who helped him start Locus, and to Dena Benatan (1970-77), who co-edited Locus for many years while he worked full time. He moved to San Francisco in 1972, working as a nuclear engineer until becoming a full-time SF editor in 1975. The Locus offices have been in Brown's home in the Oakland hills since 1973.

Brown co-founded Locus with Ed Meskys and Dave Vanderwerf as a one-sheet news fanzine in 1968, originally created to help the Boston Science Fiction Group win its Worldcon bid. Brown enjoyed editing Locus so much that he continued the magazine far beyond its original planned one-year run. Locus was nominated for its first Hugo Award in 1970, and Brown was a best fan writer nominee the same year. Locus won the first of its 29 Hugos in 1971.

During Brown's long and illustrious career he was the first book reviewer for Asimov's; wrote the Best of the Year summary for Terry Carr's annual anthologies (1975-87); wrote numerous magazines and newspapers; edited several SF anthologies; appeared on countless convention panels; was a frequent Guest of Honor, speaker, and judge at writers' seminars; and has been a jury member for various major SF awards.

As per his wishes, Locus will continue to publish, with executive editor Liza Groen Trombi taking over as editor-in-chief with the August 2009 issue.

A complete obituary with tributes and a photo retrospective will appear in the August issue.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tuckerization

You know, "Dispatches from the Troubles" has the most overt Tuckerization I've ever done. I named the Police Commissioner for the American-Irish Republic "Guillermo Ledbetter" in tribute to my friend Bill Ledbetter.

I'm up to 2,700 words on my latest AH story, "Desarallo Separado" ('Separate Development' in Spanish) which is set in the future after the U.S. loses control of Texas and a racist redneck regime imposes "Texpartheid" on the Mexican majority.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The latest

Mailed off my latest, "Black Hats and Blackberrys" today, also dropped a previous story, "Meet Me at the Grassy Knoll" to a place I've never submitted before,the Saturday Evening Post.

I don't think a whole lot is shaking in the genre this week, with the combination of the summer doldrums and Readercon. I checked the temperatures this afternoon between here and Boston - 63 degrees versus 89. No wonder everyone is going to Readercon!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Finishing up

Finished checking manuscript for "Fantastic Texas" and emailed it back to Ian Strock.

Also finished up "Black Hats and Blackberrys." It's fairly short, came in at 2,200 words.

This is the 84th story I've written since 2002.

Proof-checking time

Hope everyone had a nice 4th of July.

My main project for the rest of the weekend is to check the manuscript for my Texas-themed short story reprint collection which is going to be printed by Wilder Publications. Editor Ian Randal Strock got it to me a few days ago. I want to get "Fantastic Texas" back to him by Monday.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly

Got word from Adrian Simmons about the launch of a new ezine. Thought I'd give it a plug here. Here is their own description from their web site:

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Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is an ezine dedicated to publishing short works of heroic fantasy. More than that, through both prose and poetry we hope to hearken an older age of storytelling — an age when a story well told enthralled audiences. Traits of great oral storytelling survive the ages to influence treasures of literature, the pulps, radio plays, late-night game sessions, and now Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.

Our favorite storytellers, a few ancient and a few not, deliver action, reaction, and repercussion — and rarely divulge the thought processes that guide a character. These storytellers know that sometimes an audience just wants to see what happens next, that sometimes it’s more interesting to watch a person open a box than to hear about why he or she decided to open it in the first place.

Here’s a little more, then, about what you’ll find inside the HFQ box . . .

As our name suggests, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly isn’t limited to stories about swordsmen or far-traveling adventurers; it’s also about fantastical lands and magicks and creatures — both friend and foe — which together make heroic fantasy tales memorable and distinct from other sorts of stories.

But the tales at HFQ share another quality no less important than any other: our prose starts fast, with an emphasis on action. Be it an exchange of blows or insults, the spurring-on of steed, or the application of poultices to wounds, things happen and happen quickly in the pages of HFQ.

So if you like some sorcery with your sword and the prospect of blood with your poetry, bookmark us (or subscribe via RSS) and look for new issues at the first of July, October, January, and April.

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Their address is http://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.com/

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Another sale

Got the email today that my rewrite of the ending of "Dispatches from The Troubles" was acceptable and so GUD (Greatest Uncommon Denominator) magazine has accepted my story for Spring 2010. I have confirmed my acceptance.

It will be published is Issue No. 6. Issue No. 4 is going out in the mail right now.

GUD is a semi-annual and seems to establishing an excellent reputation for itself. "Painlessness" (from issue No. 2) won 2009 Ditmar Award for Best Novella and 2008 Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story; "Night Bird Soaring" (from issue No. 3) up for 2008 Sidewise Award for Best Short-Form Alternate History

"Dispatches" has got to be one of the wackiest alternate histories I've ever done, and it's set down smack dab in South Texas. At over 11,000 words, it is the longest story I've ever written (except for the book, of course).

With Abandoned Towers accepting "Across the Plains" a few days ago (I dropped the contract for them in today's mail), that's two stories already accepted for 2010.

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

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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