Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Prehistory Of The Quiet War

The Quiet War has just been the subject of io9's first book club feature. Someone asked me to provide a list of the short stories that preceded the novels, and I thought it might be useful to post it here, too. Originally, I just wanted to make use of various exotic settings in the outer reaches of the Solar System; later the stories became a trial run for the novels, which modify a background history that was rather unevenly developed in the stories (moral: always have a plan, rather than making it up as you go along). Also, gosh, I've been thinking about this stuff, on and off, for more than a dozen years.

'Second Skin' first appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Dell Magazines, 1997
'Sea Change, With Monsters' first appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Dell Magazines,1998
'The Gardens of Saturn' first appeared in Interzone, 1998
'Reef' first appeared in Sky Life, edited by Gregory Benford and George Zebrowski, Harcourt Brace, 2000
'Making History', PS Publishing, 2000
'The Passenger' first appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Dell Magazines, 2002
'The Assassination of Faustino Malarte' first appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Dell Magazines, 2002
‘Dead Men Walking’first appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Dell Magazines, 2006
‘Incomers’ first appeared in The Starry Rift, edited by Jonathan Strahan, Viking, 2008


Blogger Peter Hollo said...

Dear reader,
These stories are AWESOME. Please go and find them and read them. Yup.
I particularly remember loving "The ASsassination of Faustino Malarte", and "Sea Change, With Monsters", as I recall.

"The Gardens of Saturn" is why I keep confusing the title of GARDENS OF THE SUN, which by the way I shall shortly start reading :)

October 14, 2009 12:58 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

The original title of 'The Gardens of Saturn' was 'One Potato, Two'. David Pringle quite rightly insisted that I change it.

October 14, 2009 2:26 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

I remember picking up the issue of Asimov's with 'Sea Change...' in it in a liquor store in Chapel Hill, North Carolina whilst my wife was grafting away at her PhD research in the library. I read it, immediately, rooted out the Asimov's with 'Second Skin' out of a pile of back issues in a little comicbook store of the main drag. Eagerly consumed all the short stories etc set in that 'universe' since. Now on the final 20 page stretch of 'Gardens'. One of the pleasures is seeing the strands that have come out of those shorts in the longer form, and how they are tweaked into the longer narrative (I'm particularly thinking about Cash Baker's character and Dave the assassin). Do you as a rule use the short form to prototype ideas?

October 15, 2009 9:54 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Hi Nathan, Do I use the short form to prototype ideas for a novel? Not consciously. I wrote short stories set in the Outer System (not all of them that short) because I wanted to write about the Outer System and the ideas I had were short story ideas, all set on various moons or small bodies in the Outer System, all sharing a setting in which Outer colonies had been defeated in a war with Earth, and were suffering the consequences. Really, I should have had some sort of plan, like write a story for each of the major moons of Jupiter and Saturn, but for good or bad I'm not that kind of writer. Eventually, I came up with ideas for two novels about the consequences of war and the consequences of victory/defeat using the same setting, but some of those ideas were cross-grained with the history implied by the short stories. But I wanted to keep some of the characters in the short stories, so I did a major overhaul of a few scenes and situations for Gardens of the Sun, which shares the postwar setting with those stories.

This explanation is a wee bit complicated, I realise. But that's what happens when you don't plan out your career but advance by a series of discoveries and (hopefully creative) mistakes. I do think the novels are better for my having written the short stories first, but there's a lesson in here, somewhere...

October 15, 2009 2:26 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Thanks for your explanation- your reasons are perfectly clear to me- an organic, 'playing in the sandpit' kind of approach. Whatever, I have thoroughly enjoyed all the short stories and the novels.

October 16, 2009 9:43 am  

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