Friday, May 3, 2013

Me, Me, Wonderful Me!!!


I admit it.  Where most writers approach self-promotion with a kind of mealy-mouthed faux modesty, I assume an equally false air of egomania.  The truth is that I'd be perfectly happy to sit alone in a dark room somewhere, saying nothing, as my fiction is published without any cheerleading or puffery on my part.

There are only two reasons I don't do that:  1)  It's not the responsible thing to do, and 2) There are people who want to know when I have something new (or reprinted) out, and since these are the folks who keep my career afloat, I feel a moral obligation toward them.

So I have two pieces of news.  The first, and strangest, is that I've donated a prize for the F&SF Competition #86:  FIRST DRAFT.  The competition, to provide a brief first draft of a well-known work of fantasy or science fiction, has for its first price a first-draft manuscript by Yours Truly.

This is a rarer thing than it sounds like because most of my stories don't have first drafts.  I write a page or five and then go back to the beginning and write forward until I stall out again.  Then I go back to word one and start typing again.  At some point, the first page is letter-perfect and so I start from the second.  By the time I reach the end, the story is rock solid.  And all those hundreds of pages written over and over again have been consigned to recycling.

But, by chance, when Gordon Van Gelder emailed me to see if I'd contribute a typescript to the cause, I'd just finished a story . . . and it didn't work.  It was chockablock with great stuff, the writing was fine, but it just didn't have the emotional heft it should have.  The fizzy, upbeat ending felt unearned.

Pretty much simultaneous with Gordon's email, I looked down at the typescript of the story and realized that I'd left out a necessary confrontation.  So I wrote it out, the story worked, and I told Gordon I'd set aside the first draft of "Of Finest Scarlet Was Her Gown" for him.

So.  A very cool story, and an unpublished one to boot.  With a happy ending!  Since it'll still be unpublished two months from now, when the next issue comes out, I'll throw in a copy of the finished story, so the winner can see how much better it reads now.

You can get the details and rules for the competition by picking up the current (May/June) issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Pictured above.

And I'm in reprint again . . .

My astonishingly inventive science fiction story, "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled..." has been reprinted (or re-e-printed) by Clarkesworld, my first appearance in that young but august zine.

FBF'nGWF... is all that remains of what was originally going to be a novel.  I put a lot of ideation into making notes, creating a stellar system, a way of moving humans into it, a version of information economics that went way beyond the predatory, an alien society, a human society... and then one day realized that it had been two years and I still didn't have any characters or a plot.  So I got to work on a different novel.

A working writer abhors waste, however, so I took as many of my ideas as I could and put them into this story.  Someday, I may write another story showing how the humans got to Gehenna in the first place.

You can find issue 80, and my story, here.

And I hear you asking . . .

What's up with the ornate, not to say Baroque, story titles?  I'll explain that here soon.  Monday, unless something else comes up.



Mark Pontin said...

When I read and then re-read "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled..." on its first appearance, I thought it was an astonishingly inventive story, too. (And yourself an amazingly humble, modest author.)

Re-reading it now, I still think so. (And I like the semi-Zelaznyesque things going on.)

Learning that "From Babel's..." represents the remains of an aborted Swanwick novel is almost a relief in a way. (As in: phew, that Swanwick isn't quite the god of super-abundant, throwaway SFnal invention he might seem.)

But you're wrong about not having a plot or a character for a novel there.

After Quivera has already explained the differences and similarities between Europan information economics and Gehennan reputational economics to Uncle Vanya, he elaborates on how the Europan system conditions everybody's attitudes and behavior. Then, in response to the millipede's rightly contemptuous silence, he admits: “You’re right. Our entire system is totally fucked.”

As it is. And right there is your entry point into a novel.

What happens after the Quivera character leaves that suit hanging on the wall and returns to Europan society, radicalized, as a revolutionary (whether he at first knows it or not)? Does the egg-case represent a lever -- either in terms of its informational wealth or the Gehennan Mothers' biological capabilities -- with which to disrupt that society's processes?

Like that.

Peter D. Tillman said...

I reread "Babel" a few weeks ago (as the Dozois reprint) and it's one of your best, Michael. I'll make a note of this reprint URL for next time.

For those lucky enough to read it for the first time: a very fine experience awaits. Don't miss it!

Cheers -- Pete Tillman