Saturday, January 16, 2016

"You've sentenced yourself to a life of bitterness and frustration, like me..."

Back in 2004, I traveled to Austin on newspaper business. Our local high school girls basketball team was playing in the state tournament. They won their semi-final game on Thursday, which meant they would play in the state final match-up Saturday. That meant I had time to kill that Friday.
I have always admired Howard Waldrop's fiction, and I knew he lived in Austin, so I had the idea to look him up and meet him in person.
Howard was home and I got to meet him in person for the first time, a meeting recounted by his foreword in my first collection, "Fantastic Texas".
Now, a year and a half earlier I had started to write and submit spec fic, and I had submitted 16 stories to Gardner Dozois at Asimov's (a process which is documented in my book "Letters to Gardner").
Howard said if Gardner was writing personal feedback on rejections, it meant he felt he would probably eventually buy something from me. Of course, I assumed he was just being nice, but the next week, while back home, I received Gardner's acceptance of "A Rocket for the Republic".
I wrote Howard and told him meeting him had brought me good luck. He later dropped me this postcard. I recently found it in a drawer while cleaning up a messy storage shed, and thought I'd share it.
If you have trouble reading Howard's handwriting, this is what it says:
"Dear Lou,
"Congratulations on the sale to Gardner. (You were already getting rejection letters - it was only a matter of time, whether you came to Austin or not!) ou've sentenced yourself to a life of bitterness and frustration, like me..
"Way to go!
"Yer pal,
"Howard"
Howard is a great writer, a nice guy, and it also seems, a clairvoyant.
In any case, I post the front and back of the postcard for you viewing pleasure.

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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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