Thursday, July 18, 2013

Worlds of Wonder

I had to take a day off Monday to take my wife, Patricia, to see a specialist in Dallas - an orthopedic surgeon. Before returning home, we had some lunch and did some shopping in Cedar Hill, the suburb where we both lived when we met and married.

We ate at The Cotton Patch Cafe, which makes a super chicken fried steak. We were joined by Patricia's mother - who used in Dallas but now loves in Wood County - and her aunt, who lives in another Dallas suburb, DeSoto, which is next to Cedar Hill. We were joined by Ken Mayfield, an old friend who still lives in Cedar Hill.

Ken served on the Cedar Hill school board from 1988 to 1994, when he was elected a Dallas County Commissioner. I served on the Cedar Hill school board from 1992 to 1995. There were two years there when he served as board president and I served as secretary.

I didn't win reelection to the board, while he served as county commissioner until 2010. He in responsible in a way for Patricia and I getting married. He had appointed Patricia as the precinct's representative on the Dallas County Historical Commission, and that's why we met in 1998 - when she came with a news release to the weekly newspaper editor. Which was me.

We had a long lunch, with a lot of anecdotes. A good example was from 1995, when we both were guests at the Cotton Patch's pre-opening. Ken was eating a piece of pie, when he gagged, and reached across the aisle. "Omigod, this is terrible!" he gasped. "What is wrong with this pie!"

I took a bite, and knew immediately what had gone wrong. They were, indeed, making their food from scratch, and in the process made one of the classic kitchen mistakes (which, if you recall, also features in a crucial scene in the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter).

"Holy crapola," I muttered. "They used salt instead of sugar!" Which they had.

We all had a great time at lunch. Later, we went shopping. Not to totally neglect genre work, we stopped in the Cedar Hill Half Price Books. I bought a copy of "Robert Silverberg's World of Wonder", which strikes me in format as a lot like the book I'm working on now. It's a pristine first edition. I also bought a little mass market paperback version of "Lest Darkness Fall" by L. Sprague DeCamp, which has a cute cover. It's the 1963 Pyramid edition.

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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

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