Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Slow Life" at Lightspeed


As always, I'm on the road again.  But I have a story reprint online, courtesy of the good folks at Lightspeed.

The story is "Slow Life," which was originally published in Analog.  Here's how it begins:

The raindrop began forming ninety kilometers above the surface of Titan. It started with an infinitesimal speck of tholin, adrift in the cold nitrogen atmosphere. Dianoacetylene condensed on the seed nucleus, molecule by molecule, until it was one shard of ice in a cloud of billions.
When I first decided to write "Slow Life," I wanted to make it as hard-science -fiction-feeling as possible.  So I went back to the early Larry Niven collectiions to see how he'd done it . . . and discovered that a lot of his early stories began with a brief lecture on physics.  Not what they teach you at Clarion -- and yet it worked.

Which is why I determined to start by tracing the fall of a raindrop from the upper atmosphere to the surface of Titan.  It was a lot of work.  It was a lot of fun.  And when Stan Schmidt bought it, his acceptance letter noted that normally Analog didn't accept stories with that much technical detail in them.

I may well have that letter engraved on my tombstone.

You'll find the interview here.  And the story here.



HANNAH'S DAD said...

From the interview:
> My friend Matt Howarth

Is this the Matt Howarth who wrote the "Kief Llama" comics and assorted others?

If so, much respect to him! I'm constantly looking for (and whingeing about) SF in movies, games and comics which qualifies as "real SF" and these are some of the few that do it for me.

What I mean by that is stuff that plays with the core tropes of written SF and isn't a horror story or a war story with SF trappings, and which avoid cross contamination with comic superheroes.

Not that there's anything wrong with any of those, but there are times when you've just got to have lone traders in economically unviable small ships discovering alien artefacts left by The Precursors, diplomatic receptions at the Rigelian embassy, square jawed Space patrolmen, ringworlds, etc.

And if he's not that Matt Howarth, ummm... carry on.

Michael Swanwick said...

Yes, this is the real and inimitable Matt Howarth. The guy who is something of a cult figure in comics.

Matt's work is always interesting and often surprising. I have a guilty fondness for the guest issue he did for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.