Thursday, June 23, 2022

"Reservoir Ice"



I'm in print again! The July/August 2022 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has my new story "Reservoir Ice." Here's how it begins:


The problem was, they didn’t meet cute. Anything but. They were brought together by Zipless, an app that combined a deep reading of the user’s sexual desires and a wristbit that chimed if they neared the edge of the partner’s comfort zone. “Hello, I’m—” Matt began to say when Laura opened her apartment door and, “I don’t care who you are,” she replied, grabbing his shirt with both hands and ripping it open.


But, believe it or not, the story is not about sex. It's about love and romance and relationships and how difficult these can all be when you and everybody else have the ability to go back in time to undo your and their mistakes.


That opening paragraph, by the way, is one of the worst possible ways to begin a story. If I had the time, I'd tell you why.

And because I know . . .


Oh, what the heck. Some of those reading this blog are looking for writing tips. So I'll make the time to explain.


A quarter century ago, when I sold "Wild Minds" (one of my favorite stories, by the way) to Asimov's, its editor, Sheila Williams, told me that opening a story with a sex scene--even a mild one such as I'd written, with no explicit verbs nor any mention of body parts--was almost always the sign that the story was written by an amateur and not at all publishable. She was amused to find herself actually buying one.


So that's it in a nutshell. Open a story with a sex scene and you'll negatively impressed its editor at a time--the beginning--when you most want to positively impress her

Why did I do it, then? It's a character fault. I don't respond well to even the most benevolent authority. In second grade my teacher told me I couldn't begin a sentence with the word "and." And I've been doing it ever since. To such a degree that one of my final chores with any story is going through it to take out as many of those constructions as I can.


So don't learn from my example. Listen to Sheila. And watch those "and" sentences!




DanP said...

Time for a another trip to the Barnes & Noble for the latest Asimov's.

Splantrik said...

Hello! This comment is probably too old for Michael to see, but I thought I'd try :) Wonderful story ... I'm an astrophysicist (, and have been chatting a bit about indeterminism in physics to Prof Nicolas Gisin, whom Michael was referencing with "Gisinian intuitionism," as a sort of mechanism behind the time travel works. Nicolas was amused and pleased that it was mentioned in the story :) I was interested to send the story electronically to Nicolas, but Asimov's doesn't seem to be easily available in Switzerland. If someone (esp Michael :) ) wants to chat about that or how Nicolas could easily get a copy of the story, you could respond to this comment, or contact me through the email address on my website!

BTW my opinion: I'm pretty sure "Gisinian intuitionism" wouldn't underly any plausible time-travel technique, but indeed it's as good or better than any other concept to mention! It does have to do with a sort of fuzziness in the Universe, and the way that things clarify as time passes is related to it. Michael probably picked it up from this (or a related) article

mcp said...


You can send me a note at and I'll respond to it.

I knew for sure I hadn't come up with a valid means of time travel. But "Gisinian intuitionism" does sound pretty good--and it's a lot more fun to play with real science than to make it up.

All best,


Splantrik said...

Hi Michael! Yes, totally commendable phrase to use there!

Sorry, I wasn't sure how to send a note at -- there doesn't seem to be a website at that address, and I also tried e.g., but that didn't work ... if there isn't a simple fix to that, you could try emailing me at Mark(dot)Neyrinck(at) I'll erase this post in a few days :)


Michael Swanwick said...

My bad. I should have written