Look what came in the mail yesterday! Twenty-eight years after its last English-language publication, In the Drift is back in print.
My first novel was a fix-up made up of "Mummer Kiss," "Boneseeker," and "Marrow Death," with two intersticial sections. When I submitted the manuscript, the novel was titled The Drift. The publisher didn't like the title and changed it to In the Drift.
When I asked why, it was explained that it sounded like a horror novel. Which was both true and fair. Unluckily, the editor charged with retitling the book had a tin ear. Even more unluckily, I couldn't think of a better title until, the following year, I received copies of the French translation, Le Baiser du Masque. I got out my French dictionary to find out what the title meant and discovered that it was Mummer Kiss.
The perfect title for the novel had been staring me in the face all the time.
Now Dover Publications has reissued my novel, part of a line of SF disaster novels, I believe. If you're curious, you can go to their website here and look around.
And having neglected to say a word about the contents...
In the Drift is set in an alternative future about a hundred years after the Three Mile Island reactor went to full meltdown. Most of Pennsylvania is unlivable and an impoverished Philadelphia is ruled by the Mummers. Hence the grim story titles.
And just in case the word has gone out of style...
Smek!, by the way, is the sound of one's palm hitting one's forehead.