Friday, January 09, 2015

Many benefits

There are many positives that come out of my recent job change.

First off, I will be working for people again who are sympathetic to my writing. The change to corporate ownership at the newspaper half year ago was definitely for the worse in that regard. That company is pretty much in it just for the money, and really couldn't care less about its employees. Unfortunately, that's not uncommon in American business today, but newspapers are especially bad in overworking their employees because of the amorphous nature of the job duties. I was on salary, and from all indications the management would've been content to have me work 80 hours a week. They are very good at giving orders and not take into consideration the workload. Practically speaking, many newspaper employees spend enormous amounts of time working off the clock. That kind of hourly theft is journalism's dirty little secret. It's hardly surprising among the rank and file of American workers that capitalism has a bad reputation; what was it Ambrose Bierce said? "Piracy is capitalism without the frills."

Now with with my change in job, I can actually attend conventions on Thursdays and Fridays. In fact, I need to contact conventions whose invitations I have already accepted to let them know of my beneficial change in schedule.

The current owners of my old paper did me one serious harm when they canceled my two weeks accrued vacation upon taking over the business, thereby preventing me from attending the world science fiction convention in London this summer. Loncon programming didn't wonderful job of matching me to a couple of panels on steam punk and alternate history, but I had to renege on my commitment once my vacation time evaporated. Unfortunately, I have worked in corporate owned newspapers before, and that was hardly a surprise; that's the way they treat their employees.

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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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