Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Letters from Gardner"

I've been picking up speed with "Letters from Gardner", my project where I recap the notes I got from Gardner Dozois in 2003 and 2004 when I was trying to break into science fiction writing.

It's an interesting hybrid - partly history because the way it looks back at that time near the turn of the century in the world of science fiction magazines; and partly writer's manual, as I explain what I was doing, what I was learning, and what Gardner wrote.

I also explain how I applied what Gardner wrote; all except one of the 15 stories I sent him during the period were ultimately published.

The book is also a collection, as I reprint those stories. In most cases, I have dredged up the original versions (I had to buy an external floppy disk drive because my backup files from that time are on floppies) and then explain the changes that were made. In some cases, I am publishing new endings or beginnings.

I completed Chapter Four tonight, and I'm up to 24,000 words.

One of the reasons I'm doing this is that I'm the last author Gardner bought a story from before he retired from Asimov's.

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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.

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- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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