The Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened for practice yesterday, and that can mean only one thing! Yes! Launch day is finally here! John C. Bodin and I are pleased to announce that we’ve made a short anthology of our Indy 500 collaborations available in e-formats.
You can find it in these places:
This work includes or two previously published works “Oh-oh” and “The Day the Track Stood Still,” as well as “Speeding,” an original story written just for this collection.
Interested in a print version? We’re looking into releasing a print version, also. More on that later. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a print version, drop me an email (ron_at_typosphere.com) and I’ll let you know when it’s available.
As noted earlier, John C. Bodin and I are excited to announce that we’ll be releasing “Three Days in May,” an anthology of science fiction related to the Indianapolis 500. We expect to see it drop on or about May 11th, which just so happens to be the day the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opens for practice. Wonders be, eh?
As promised, here’s the cover we’re planning, as well as a little blurb about the works themselves:
Strap yourself into the cockpit and follow along as John C. Bodin and Ron Collins take you on three laps around the Indy 500′s past and future.
Speeding — Famous chronumentary director Connor Singh and his best friend Li-liang Novikoff will go to any length necessary to capture the dramatic secrets of one of the most horrific accidents in Indy history, as they return to 1964 to record the events that lead up to the crash that took the lives of Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald.
Oh-oh! — It’s 1969 and a shape shifting race of aliens from Tau Ceti are out to rig the most wagered upon event in the known universe. It’s up to an undercover vice cop from outta this world to stake out the Snake Pit, find a way to stop them, and avoid the fickle fate of bad fortune himself.
The Day the Track Stood Still — Drivers have always had special relationships with their cars, but in the future this may go a little further than Buddy might have expected. He’s about to find out how far he can stretch his relationship when the B’rada come to town with big plans to win the 500, and with it take home something bigger than the Borg-Warner trophy.
I’ve spent the last couple mornings working to restructure episodes 6 and 7 into a short story and a short novella (perhaps even dropping it into novelette territory–though we will see). It was a bit difficult to concentrate to concentrate this morning, though. First, I woke up considerably later this morning than normal (the cat alarm clock has been slipping lately). Second, Brigid and Nick being here draw me upstairs much earlier than normal–this is a good interruption, of course!. And third, I have to admit to being distracted by the upcoming game between my beloved Louisville Cardinals and the dastardly Blue Devils from Duke.
Still, work has been accomplished.
And that is good.
The short story should be fairly simple to complete now that I’ve separated it. The novella is a little more complex because it needs (1) a new way to knit two story threads together, and (2) a new segment to deal with a deep character interaction that occurred off-stage in my earlier work.
Ah, the fun of writing never ends, I say. It never ends!
On a last note, here’s another bit of SF-related history from the Letters of Note site.
Here’s step two in my check-up on my New Year’s Resolutions. To (once again) remind, I made three resolutions. They were:
- Average over 20K steps a day
- Write fiction every day
- Read a short story every day
I’m going to talk about the short fiction I’ve read this month (yeah, the month’s not over, but it’s the weekend and I’ve got the time to write this now, so I’m calling it a month…it’ll all work out in the end, I’m sure, so chill the heck out, okay?). The bottom line about my performance is that I’ve averaged a short story a day. I’ve had a couple days where I missed, but I’ve been able to make up for it in other days. I’ll note why I missed a few days in my next resolution check, but for now please take my word that I had a great reason. I’ll grade my stick-to-it on this resolution an A-.
Top 5 Stories of the Month
Inventory – Carmen Maria Machado, Strange Horizons: This was a startling piece, intimate, and true to the bone. The thing I love about short stories is that they give authors space to take dramatic chances, and that’s the case in this one. A really beautiful piece about the end of the world as we know it, about how humans interact, and about isolation. NOT SAFE FOR WORK. Very highly recommended, though. It’s the story I’ve read this month that has stayed with me the strongest, so I’ll call “Inventory” the story of the month.
The Sounds of Old Earth – Matthew Kressel, Lightspeed: I loved this piece for its perspective of home and place, and the idea of how those things form identity. Solid writing. Highly recommended.
Lázaro y Antonio – Marta Randall, Lightspeed: The story of a pair of thugs, or is it? Touching story, well done.
Press Enter to Execute – Tobias S. Buckell, Fireside: Live by the net, uh, die by the net? Intriguing extrapolation from today.
The Cambrist and Lord Iron – Daniel Abraham, Lightspeed: How can you not like a story that actually answers the question of what a life is worth? This was a fun read that I’ll remember for awhile. This is a learning for me as I wrote this up. I’m reading a bunch of stuff, and I’m writing a tone of stuff, and I’ve got work at the day job coming out of my ears and watching movies and TV shows and following my beloved Cardinals as my days unfold. It really takes something to make a story stick with me these days, and I find that as I look back on this month’s reading there are several stories I have to really struggle to remember much about. I’m trying to keep this in mind as I write my own stuff. What have I given a reader to make them remember the work?
So, those are my top five tales of the month. I’ve listed all the stories I’ve read so far. This doesn’t mean the other stories aren’t good or that I didn’t like them. No way. Cat Valente’s “Fade to White” and Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s Monster, Finder, Shifter were both exquisite, for example. Kelly Link’s “Catskin” and Eleanor Aronson’s “The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times” were beautiful reads. And several others were worth the time. Ken Liu is always interesting, eh? And reading Yoon Ha Lee is always interesting for the pure love of writing itself. But the five above are the ones that stayed with me. Take that for what it’s worth, eh?
Date Author – Title
1/1 Tobias S. Buckell – A Game of Rats and Dragon
1/1 Tobias S. Buckell – Press Enter to Execute
1/2 Nina Kiriki Hoffman – Monster, Finder, Shifter
1/3 Brooke Bolander – Sun Dogs
1/4 Cat Valente – Fade to White
1/5 Ken Liu – Real Artists
1/5 Corry L. Lee – Shut Down
1/6 Joe Haldeman – Four Short Novels
1/10 Brian Everson – An Accounting
1/11 Ken Liu – The Perfect Match
1/12 Yoon Ha Lee – Swanwatch
1/13 Kelly Link – Catskin
1/14 Thomas Minton – Dreams in Dust
1/15 Marta Randall – Lázaro y Antonio
1/16 Matthew Kressel – The Sounds of Old Earth
1/17 Daniel Abraham – The Cambrist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics
1/18 Ron Collins – The Time of Leaving
1/19 Ron Collins – Operation Hercules
1/20 Ken Liu – Real Faces
1/21 Eleanor Aronson – The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times
1/21 Kristin Jantz – Observation Deck
1/22 Kris Rusch – Front Porch
1/23 Yoon ha Lee – Effigy Nights
1/23 Carmen Maria Machado – Inventory
1/24 Helena Ball – Variations on Bluebeard and dalton’s Law along the Event Horizon
1/25 Ian McDonald – Driftings
1/26 Jeffrey Ford – Daltharee
Now that the danger appears to be over and all seems okay, I think I need to apologize to Neil Clarke (@clarkesworld), as the data is clear it was a submission of my latest work that caused him to have his little incident at Readercon. I mean, how much more obvious can you get? I send an editor work, and the editor is suddenly stricken. Clear linkage, right? I mean, I’m a data driven guy, and this is a statistical correlation that just cannot be denied.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m paying for anything.
Happy to see Neil’s getting active again, though. As I move forward perhaps I need to think about this new-found power of mine. Perhaps the real question, as I draw near to finishing more work, is … okay, who’s next?
Just a thought down here in the lonely basement at seven in the morning.
So I’ve been on an Escape Pod jag while doing my health-club time lately. Two stories I can recommend: You’re Almost Here by Melinda Thielbar (originally published in Bull Spec), and Written on the Wind by David D.Levine. You can either download the podcast on those links or read the story in written form. Very nice.
I liked “You’re Almost There” for it’s basic aura and it’s statement on the world of today. I liked “Written on the Wind” because it’s a kind of interesting tale, but I have to admit I liked it just as much for the fact that it’s founded in linguistics. This appeals for two reasons. First, it’s hard to find intereting stories built around linguistics. But the bigger reason is that it made me think of Brigid, who is majoring in (among other things) Linguistics at Purdue.
Since it’s in the title, I should probably lead with it … so here it is: Britney Spears does SF?
Since I’m in the media frame of mind, I’m currently reading a pair of books–Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars, and a “Best of” collection of Edmund Hamilton’s work.
King’s work is great, of course. He’s really a no bullshit storyteller of the best cut. Hamilton’s collection is interesting in the historical sense, and from the point of view that you can really see him maturing over time. Perhaps you can say that about the field, too. The collection spans stories over some four decades.
With the field literally exploding with uncertainty over almost every aspect of the future, I think it’s valuable to look backward, too.
So, in theme of looking backward, I’m apparently in a bit of a retro mood this AM (and last). I’ve had Sarah McLachlan on the iTunes as I write. Can I call Sarah McLachlan retro? I guess I can, eh? Retro is what I point to when I say “retro!”
Regardless, the story I’m working on is flowing pretty well, still. Main characters introduced, conflict kinda set up and ready to get deeper. Fun being had.
But now it’s off to work. Have a great day!
Listened to Heinlein’s “By His Bootstraps” today from Radio Drama Revival. Very cool version, played by Richard Dreyfuss, among a few others. These are the kinds of things that actually make me excited to go to the Health Club–it cuts out a chunk of time where I don’t really have anything to do but listen to the iPod.
This is a great, professionally done piece of work. Recommended.
Down to 11 more pages to go on the Light Rewrite. I wanted to power through, but I completed about 70 pages worth, and my brain is a little loopy. Better to just let it sit until tomorrow and do it right.
If you listen to stories on podcast, you should give twenty minutes or so to Lavie Tidhar’s Set Down This. It’s published on pseudopod, which is marketed as a horror-centric publication, but this is not your classic “horror” story, except, of course, in that it is excruciatingly horrific in its own not-quite-fictional way.
Anyway. I think it’s an important story.
It originally appeared in the anthology Phantom, edited by Sean Wallace and Paul Tremblay.
The gobbledygook is now now gobbledy-gone. I’m off and running again on the light edit. Took me two days to untangle the hoses of the ten-page problem, but if the sailing’s as clear as I think it is we’ll still see the finish line sometime next weekend.
[regarding my last post]
Of course, the next story I read in Astounding Stories of Super Science (gotta love that title) is full of tentacles, disintegration rays and other knee-slapping examples of scientific misuse of things like, oh, gravity.
Not that it wasn’t fun for all that, though.
Progress: 90+ pages through the light-pass. At this rate I should be done by the weekend after next. That’s the target, anyway. I’ve cleaned up three of my main issues, and made strong dents in three others. the last four have yet to come up.
When I first got my ebook reader I assumed I was going to spend most fo my early time with the thing by grabbing a few recent offerings and occasionally dropping one of my own manuscripts into it so I could review my work over the lunch hour.
What I’ve really done is to dive right smack-dab into a bunch of SF history.
I’ve been reading old work available on manybooks.net, including short work from Bob Sheckley, Frederik Pohl, and Phil Dick. I’ve gotten my mitts on the few issues of Astounding that were published in the 1930s that are filled with names that I have never seen. It’s been a heckuva lot of fun, and really educational. I’m finding myself doing little bits of research on those guys I had never heard of, and enjoying the work. Like everything else, a good chunk is drecky (I can say that about a lot of the newer stuff I’ve been reading, too, of course), but good stuff exists. I even grabbed Ayn Rand’s “Anthem,” which is clearly SF, and which is in public domain apparently due to an error in re-upping copyright.
Now, I’m sure many of you are way, way ahead of me.
But for those paltry few for whom the idea of SF of the 19202 and 1930s consists wholey of hokey ray guns, cardboard space ships, and tentacled monsters from planet X, I think there’s great value in understanding where the field has really come from. Amid some clunky crud, I’ve read about miniature electronics, and advanced communications techniques that stand up. I’ve read about automation and warfare techniques that still work today. I’ve read a story or three that could be easily printed today.
For any “new” SF writer (and by that I mean anyone who–like me–really hasn’t spent time studying SF history), I recommend taking a few weeks and digging into some of these works. The worst thing that can happen is that you have a little lighthearted fun–and where’s the harm in that, eh?
30+ pages on my light-pass rewrite of novel #3.
Three long days at the “real job” put a serious damper on my productivity since Monday. Hey, such is life.
I did get a bit of work done on the third novel rewrite, and I finished reading a novel I picked up because I was interested in the “free books” movement that’s obviously going around. Perhaps I’ll talk about that a bit here in a while. Not that my opinion counts for much, there. After my little step away, I sometimes feel like an ice man who’s just been dethawed.
Working on that, though. And it’s coming around, slowly but surely.
Lisa and I also watched the end of FlashForward. Interesting show, but in my opinion it was horribly morphed from the book. Apparently, the idea of using a scientist as the main character is anathema to the major channels. Shame, really. So instead of having a spiffy, smart story that really explored SFnal concepts, they created a predictable story about an FBI guy (and an FBI) who couldn’t detect their way out of a paper bag.
So count me among those who loved the book and thought the show was merely interesting for its anthropological place in the SF chain of things.
May 20, 2010 Science Fiction
I was talking about science fiction with a co-worker yesterday and he mentioned some of his favorite SF movies. They were of the Star Wars, Star Trek, variety–obvious science fiction titles with lots of explosions in space. (Let’s not get into the question of whether Star Wars if fantasy or SF, m-kay?)
I realized then that the concept of SF in films to the general public seems deeply entrenched in the idea of spaceships and lasers. Kinda like golden SF, but with maybe a modern sensibility and with Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis as the lead.
It got me thinking about what I’ll call “Real SF Films.” You know? movies that are not just golden-age rip-roaring adventure tales, but work hard to explore SFnal topics in a deeper fashion.
Here are five films that jumped to mind. They fit the bill as solid attempts at real SF work, and that are outstanding stories (at least in my opinion). Some you may not even think of as SF.
1) Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind: Great story about a guy who tries to erase a love from his life. Clearly SFnal in concept, but I don’t here it talked about when SF is discussed.
2) Primer: Outstanding low-budget film that explores time travel without dumbing anything down. I needed to watch it twice to really get it. One of my favorite films, really. Smart script, true to theory, engaging. What’s not to like?
3) Sliding Doors: An interesting exploration into the multiple worlds aspect of quantum theory. It doesn’t delve into the theory behind the science much at all, but uses it in matter-of-fact fashion and presents an interesting set of stories. I don’t think this is a story that comes to mind when people think “SF Film,” though.
4) The Fountain: This one probably isn’t for everyone. Very weird at times, but wierd in a way that Lisa and I both like. It’s hard to interpret. Some will call this a fantasy. Some won’t know what to call it. But I view it as SF, so it’s on my list.
5) Momento: To me this is a well-duh selection as SF, but it doesn’t show up as SF on some folks’ register. A lot of people liked this a lot more than I did (I was digging it until the very end, but that’s a discussion for another day).
You’ll notice there’s not a space craft or a laser gun in sight with these five films–not that a laser can’t be fun. After all, I like my cinematic space opera as well as the next guy.
May 18, 2010 Science Fiction
Congratulations to the newest Nebula Award winners. It’s certainly an extremely interesting collection, specifically because none of the winners of the three short fiction categories came from the big three digests. I think is the first time this happened since 2003. However, in 2003 two of the stories came out of Ellen Datlow’s big-budgeted SCIFICTION.
This year saw winners come from Subterranean, Interzone, and Clarkesworld. Does this represent a major shift? Dunno.
But I note that two of the three 2008 awards went to digests, and the entire 2007 set went to digests. Two of the three in 2006 went to F&SF, and the third was Burn–which seems to me to have been a vote for podcasting as well as for Tachyon. I wasn’t really paying enough attention at that point, so I would be interested in the cliff note version of the fallout of that year’s award process.
Anyway, you get the idea. It’s not like the digests have fallen by the wayside or anything. But this result has to make a few folks sit up and take notice.
In this vein, I was talking to a good friend of mine from work earlier today. He’s a guy who is a hard core fan of more gold-age SF. He’s a major league reviewer on Amazon, but has been away from the short fiction area for some time. We talked about magazines from the old days, and I suggested he take a look around several online publications. We discussed how we thought ebook readers might change things–I said I thought the days of the Big Honkin’ Novels might actually be coming to an end. (Please, Powers that Be, can we go back to the nice little 60-70K novel again?)
Who knows, for sure if that will happen? Or who can say the digests won’t be back in control next year?
All I can really say is that from my point of view it seems to me that the tide has strongly turned in the past five years. But, I also figure I really should stop spending time worrying about it too much and get back to writing.
May 16, 2010 Science Fiction
At the gym today I listened to Steve Ely’s farewell podcast at EscapePod. It’s story titled “The Last McDouglas by David D. Levine that had appeared at Asimov’s earlier. The story is good and memorable enough for it’s futuristic look at fast food alone. But the story isn’t what made this podcast special.
I have never met Steve Ely, but I have to say the guy seems to be a class individual. I really enjoyed his commentary about his time with Escape Pod, and I enjoyed his final outro a lot. He sends a really nice message about being fearless, about loving SF, about doing your best, and about having fun being a responsible part of the bigger world.
Honestly, though, he sent that message with each one of his podcasts.
I’ve been grabbing Escape Pod stories for several months now, and can say without doubt that Steve Ely’s enthusiasm for his work came out in his commentary as well as his interpretation of each work. He has helped me pass many an hour on the treadmill. I cannot say this last bit about several other podcasts, and here’s why: production quality.
Yes, production quality.
Steve Ely’s podcasts are put together well, but also clearly presented. The tone is good, and he kept background noise away. He ready at a good pace and with a clear tone of voice that made it easy to follow the tales he presented. This is all important in a podcast, because as far as I can tell the most likely situation a consumer is going to be in while listening to them is “on the move.” This is true in my case. I listen in the car, and I listen on the treadmill.
In both of these cases, the environment around me can be quite noisy so poor production quality can be a kiss of death.
For example, inn addition to Escape Pod, I attempted to listen to Jay Lake’s A Water Matter from TOR.com. The story is great, pure Jay Lake. But I could only listen to it while I was over in the free weight section because it’s volume doesn’t scale up well on my nano, and because Jay’s vocal approach tends to run words together. It wasn’t clear enough for me to be able to follow while on the noisy treadmill. Truthfully, if the gym’s music had been turned up as loud as it usually was I couldn’t have listened to it at all while working out–which is my prime podcast consumption time.
You get the idea.
Steve Ely was really good at what he did. Congratulations to him for his successful 5-year run.
I’ve mentioned a time or two that I’m spending quite a bit of time at the gym the past few months, and that this has given me quite a bit of opportunity to listen to various podcasts. I thought it was only proper that I mention a few pieces that I’ve particularly liked.
If you have an iPod or other MP3 player of your choice (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?) and a half-hour drive anywhere, you could do worse than listening to a few of these:
This is a really nice tale of a house that takes a trip from Ohio to Florida–a premise that sounds funny, but is most decidedly not. Highly recommended.
Robert Reed is one of my favorite short fiction writers. Of course, since I don’t have tons of time I read mostly short fiction, so I guess I should say he’s one of my favorite storytellers and leave it at that. “The Next Invasion” is interesting in every way.
Progress Today (so far):
Now that I’ve got the basic story of my two pilots pretty much figured out and two-thirds of their story told, I took the morning to fix up the world around them. I also received a special gift of about 300 words that jumped into the last part of their story. I love it when that happens.
Assuming my brain is still working this afternoon, I’ll go back and see what damage I can do to their story.
I see that SFWA is going to simulcast the Nebula Awards banquet. That should be interesting. May 15…hum…checking calendar.
I have always been an awards kind of guy. Yes, the weird voting patterns and the in-fighting that surrounds them can be a bit, er, flummoxing, but I generally find my way around that aspect of things. And, yeah, sometimes I look at an award and think injustice has been done. But sue, me–I like success stories. I like seeing what can be achieved when people put their minds to it.
I also admit I’m a bit intrigued about SFWA as a whole these days. I let my membership lapse some time back, and have been debating stepping back into the organization. Not sure I’ll have time to tie into the simulcast, but it does have me thinking, and thinking is good, eh?
Most of the time, anyway.
Progress update: Ok, so enough blather…what have I done today?
Well, not much. I had a early morning call for the real job with team mates in India that took up most of my time. I did manage a scan through of about ten pages of novel manuscript that I see needs major rewriting. It’s a sub-story of a couple fighter pilots that seems to just sit on the page and not do as much as I need it to do.
I’ll plan to do some thinking about that at lunch.
We spent the weekend visiting Brigid, so I didn’t do any writing this weekend. This represents the longest stretch I’ve gone without creating as least a few words since the year started. So, I guess that’s good.
Brigid is doing great, by the way, and it was much fun to see her again.
During a quiet time, we stopped into Borders and I picked up a copy of the Year’s Best SF (Hartwell and Cramer’s), and I’ve manages to read five or six of the tales so far. They’re all good, of course, but I’m struck by how dark and cynical that field seems to have become. Only one tale that I’ve read to date has has had anything close to an upbeat message about the future. Lisa and I talked about this over breakfast today. That’s one reason she’s taken more to romance and YA reading–she doesn’t mind meat on her stories, but she wants something more entertaining than anything else, and it’s hard to feel entertained by a “all-is-lost” cast to a story.
It was an interesting conversation, all around.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading a story by Vandana Singh, an Indian writer whose short story Somadeva: A Sky River Sutra I first read last week on Strange Horizons. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Check it out, you might, too. I spent considerable time on her site, and will probably spend more later. I think I need to dig into Indian SF. So much to do, so little time.
Finally, on the personal writing front, when we returned home, my mail included something I can only describe as an intriguing rejection from one of the major markets in the field. Not sure completely what to make of it, but I guess we’ll just see what time brings. No one ever said being a writer was particularly easy or straightforward.
On to Monday, eh?
I feel like I’m in this incredibly strange position. While I’ve never considered myself to have ever really stopped writing, I admit fully that I’ve stepped extremely far from the center of the world I knew previously–though I guess it’s more appropriate to say I stopped moving, and the rest of the world kept right on dancing. I’ve made distance between myself and the SF community by my own inaction. I understand this better than you can guess.
Regardless, it’s just so weird to have an established background but feel so out of touch.
Realizing this, I’ve made it a priority to address the vacuum over the past few months and I’ve been working my tail off to get myself back into the game–or at least to understand where the game is at. If I’ve learned anything at all through all this work it’s that this is one helluva great time to be a new writer.
Of course, I’m not really a new writer, but it kinda feels that way every now and again. Mostly now. Except when it’s again.
Anyway, I mean … wow. It’s a really different world than even ten or fifteen years ago. Back in those grisly old days you had to code your own damned website, blogs were journals, and there weren’t any simple ways to learn anything. The only real way to get real contact with professional writers, or direct understanding of what it took to be a real writer was to drop a couple thousand bucks and go to a Big Name writer’s camp or at least find your way to a convention. Both of these options are still there, of course.
But now. Well.
The material available to the total newbie out here today is immense and really useful. It’s freaking staggering how easy it is to find help now. Forums, websites, podcasts, twitter feeds, social networks. Geez. I can’t imagine how any new writer can possibly go wrong.
My latest approach has been podcasts. I mentioned a few posts back that Lisa and I are spending a lot of time at the health club. We go for an hour after work pretty much every day, and we’ve been doing three hours a day each weekend day. This means I set aside about eleven hours a week to listen to something of value. This doesn’t count the quiet moments around lunch that I can use, or the 10 minute drives to work that I occasionally grab. (Note: none of this is actual writing time, but instead is time I can pull through multi-tasking–nothing better than learning about the field while burning a few calories).
So the iPod has been burning.
I’ve spent some of this time listening to interviews of editors that I was considering sending my book to, which immediately gave me a feel for what they thought and how they approached material. I’ve listened to several what I’ll call “culturally relevant” stories by the Scalzi’s and the Doctorows and the Buckells (hiya, Toby…you go, guy) and several others. I took in James Patrick Kelly’s environment-changing Burn. I’ve experienced NPR and Barnes and Noble interviews of probably 30 writers that range from Anne Lamott to Ken Follett to Niel Gaiman to Laura Lippman. I’ve found Shaun Farrell’s Adventures in Science Fiction Publishing, and Mur Lafferty’s I Should be Writing. And, yeah, those are just a few of the goodies I’ve come across.
I mean, it’s almost impossible to _not_ know at least something about what’s going on in the field as long as you work on it just a little bit. And this is just in Podcast space. I’m not even yet touching on the fact that there appear to be a gazillion solid markets for short fiction now.
It all makes me feel like an old geezer. “In my day and age you had to write uphill both ways…”
So, yeah, it seems like a great time to be a new writer, though I admit I wish I didn’t feel quite so much like one.
So I’ve been working on this novel again. When I started, I projected that it would be finished by the end of this weekend. It looks like it’s going to be close, as I’m down to the last 60 pages or so and the heavy work is clearly done.
Yeah, I know. I said the hard work was mostly done in my last post. But this past week I found myself in an 80-page block of story that really just didn’t work. So I went back and hacked and slashed and re-hacked and re-slashed. I’ve now come out the other side, and have convinced myself it’s all downhill now.
For what it’s worth, I’ve been frustrated with it in a good way–meaning that I’m finding myself upset that I’ve come to the end of my morning writing because I’m deeply interested continuing on the work.
In the meantime, Lisa and I have taken to spending time in the health club again. Despite walking around with a set of constantly tender muscles I admit I feel better. The reason I mention it, though, has nothing in particular to do with health or wellness. Instead, it’s relevant here because I’ve taken to using the time on the treadmill by loading up my iPod and listening to audio stories and interviews with writers.
I’ve listened to old, and kinda-corny-but-oh-so-cool old radio shows, including an adaptation of Pohl and Kornbluth’s “The Space Mercants” and Ray Bradbury’s “The Rocket.” I’ve listened to stories from the New yorker, and I’ve listened to the thoughts of writers from about a ke-trillion genres.
Great stuff, of course, and all while burning off a bunch of calories.
I woke up early this morning, as often happens because the cat has this thing abut eating. This usually means I wake up and get going for the morning. I have this tendency to fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow, but once I’m up, I’m up for good.
This morning I went downstairs and started to work on this weird story of mine. I realized I really didn’t have enough to go on, so I needed to brainstorm some more. Since I wasn’t going to actually “write” I decided that I would use my computer’s processor time to grab a recording of some old Sherlock Holmes radio programs.
Those recordings were currently in album form, sitting in cardboard boxes on the floor of my basement. There were four shows on two albums. I remember having given the albums to my dad, probably for father’s day, as a kid. We enjoyed them back in the day, and they have now come full circle. Brigid, my daughter for those who may be newish to my meanderings, had been down here a month ago or so, and showed a bit of interest in them, so I figured I would put them into a format she could use given today’s modern whiz-bang technology. I envisioned her plugging in to them as mind-candy as she walked across campus up in West Lafayette.
So I cued up the first and started up Audacity.
The show started, and I enjoyed it again…so much that I paid more attention to it than I did my own brainstorming. The shows were taped mostly in 1945, and I found the advertisements for wine and port to be as interesting as the shows, and I found the public service announcements regarding the boys overseas to be somehow important to me as I sat quietly down in my basement.
The first show ended, and I prepared to stop the recording, when among the last things I heard was “Screenplay written by Anthony Boucher.”
Really? I thought? Did I hear that right? Anthony Boucher? The Anthony Boucher of F&SF fame?
So I fired up Google and do a quick search. Indeed, this Anthony Boucher was the Anthony Boucher of F&SF fame, and mystery fame, and all sorts of other good stuff. This bothered me. I should have known this. At least I think I should have, anyway. I’ve been in or around the field for awhile now, but I still feel so empty when it comes to this stuff. Earlier this year I spent a few weeks reading nothing but short stories from the 50sm, 60s, and early 70s. I read Ed Hamiltion, and Roger Zelazny, and Clifford Simak, and several others. Still it doesn’t feel like enough.
But I listened to the next episode more closely. It was a fun show. It moved quickly, and despite being a bit “dated,” was full of little nuances and interesting bits that included logic puzzles and plays on linguistics and other such stuff. The acting was varied, but generally pretty good, and I really enjoyed the essence of story without visuals.
Anthony Boucher. Interesting. Who would have known?
I felt very connected in many different ways.
Maybe Brigid will feel the same way as she trudges across campus. Maybe she will just find the radio plays silly or quaint. I expect it will be closer to the first than the last, but you never know.
In the meantime, I’ll go back to this story of mine.