Sunday, July 17, 2016

"The technological equivalent of Pearl Harbor"

Back in the early 1990s I was the managing editor of the local newspaper in the city where the temporary headquarters of the Superconducting Super Collider were located - DeSoto, Texas.

The SSC itself was being constructed due south across the county line in Ellis County, and would encircle (underground) the county seat of Waxahachie. The labs and other facilities were supposed to move to the actual SSC site later.

Coverage of the construction of the SSC was an ongoing news item in my paper, until - of course - Congress cancelled the funding. My editorial criticizing the decision was quoted in The New York Times, and Sen. Phil Gramm quoted one of my lines in a speech, that it was "The technological equivalent of Pearl Harbor."

Years later - after I started a second career as a spec fic writer - I drew upon the experience as an inspiration and jumping off point for my short story "The Witch of Waxahachie", which Mike Resnick liked and Eric Flint bought for Jim Baen's Universe. It was published in April 2008.

Back in 2003 my wife and I bought some property in a tax resale auction as an investment. It has an undeveloped cabin, and over the years we have used it as long-term storage. We are finally selling it, and so yesterday I went to retrieve whatever was in there we wished to save.

Going through a briefcase of very old stuff, I found this button. I dusted it off and gave it a polish, and it looks good as new.

Sure brings back memories.

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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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