Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Pen Pal" revisited

"The Orange Fine Point is one of Bic's most popular models. Introduced in its original form in 1961, it was the first pen to take advantage of the introduction of Bic's new tungsten carbide ball point design. It was originally marketed as a medium fine point in the U.S. and sold for 25 cents. It remains popular in Europe, Africa and Asia but is no longer available in the Western hemisphere."

Sound familiar? It's an excerpt from my short story, "Pen Pal", published in 2004 in Revolution SF. It received an honorable mention in the 2005 edition of "The Year's Best Science Fiction".

The story germinated after I found one of these pens in a desk when I started at a new job in 2003.

In 2005, I went to work at a newspaper that used to have an office supply store, and I found six more of the pens.

I have kept this small supply of very old pens since then; only a few of them, maybe three, still write well. Over the past few years, I have tried a few times to order them, but no office supply company overseas would sell such a prosaic product overseas.

THEN, two weeks ago, I stumbled upon a web site that stocked them and would ship them overseas. It wasn't an office supply business, it was a scientific technical supply company - Alltec in the U.K.

I paid $22 for a box of 20 - the shipping was two-thirds of the cost. They arrived yesterday. It's great; they're bright, shiny, new, and write like the old dream I remember. They're all I will be using for the duration.

Happy, happy, happy.

In case you want to read "Pen Pal", it's still archived at RevolutionSF: tp://

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed the story, Lou, and I used many of those pens when I was a much younger man!


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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