Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Back to novel

After taking a break for a few weeks to work out kinks in the plot and do some research, I've started back up on my retrofuturist alternate history. I passed the 60,000 word mark yesterday. Iv'e gone back to the beginning and fleshed some details - even for a first draft it had been looking lean. I also had to add a few characters. I was writing it like a short story, with as few characters as possible, but I realized that I had no one in some cases to fill a role or provide a plot turn. The main characters stay the same, but there are a few more supporting roles.

One thing I went and researched were some basics on Martian geology, terrain, and topography. I don't want to get bogged down in details, but I was really fudging those subjects. I found a book at my local library, "A Travelers Guide to Mars" by William K. Hartman, that is a big help.

My story takes a place on a Mars that has been settled for a decade. It's not like Andy Weir's "The Martian".

One thing that drive authors nuts - but you must do it if you're any good - is admit when you've got stuff that just doesn't stand the test of time. It's frustrating when you go back and admit a passage or scene you wrote is trash, and you have to dump it - because it feels like you're losing ground. And truly speaking, your are, as your word count drops, but really you're making progress on what will be a worthwhile narrative. I'm proud that John Clute in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes my writing style as "spare, swift, convincing".

I believe authors must play to their strengths, and mine is that - after working as a journalist for over 40 years now - I can write tight.

One result I'm seeing in this novel is that I think it moves along so seamlessly is that I can't see anywhere to make chapter breaks. That's also is an outcome of the fact it's told in the first person, as a flashback. Like "A Rocket for the Republic", which was published in Asimov's almost ten years ago, it's technically a monologue.

I may leave it with no chapter breaks and see what happens.

As a result of this format, I have a trick planned at the end (A trick ending for an Antonelli story? No!) based on the fact this is supposed to be a monologue told to an unseen observer.

But that's at the end, and I'm not there yet.

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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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