Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Of Evening's Empires, my publisher says:
A young man stands on a barren asteroid. His ship has been stolen, his family kidnapped or worse, and all he has on his side is a semi-intelligent spacesuit. The only member of the crew to escape, Hari has barely been off his ship before. It was his birthplace, his home and his future.

He's going to get it back.
A neat hook into the beginning of the story. A teasing fragment of exposition. A hint of narrative direction. I've been shown some cover roughs. They're very good too.

Meanwhile, I'm finishing a story for a themed anthology of stories set on the old, wet, habitable Venus. Some stories come easily. This one took a while to reveal what it was really about: it was necessary to write a kind of condensed novel, a biography of the hero, and then to strip out everything that wasn't relevant. Which revealed amongst other things that the story wasn't about the hero, after all. As usual, when I have trouble moving a story forward it's because I've started in the wrong place.

It's a kind of planetary romance, a kind of adventure, a kind of detective story. Stories about scientific discovery are often cast in the form of detective stories because they seem to share an obvious narrative structure - something happens, and despite difficulties, diversions and obstructions, the hero uncovers clues and pieces them together to form a narrative that explains the why and the how - but on close examination the analogy often breaks down. The fit isn't exact. My story is in part about the stories science tells itself, and why they are sometimes wrong, or point in the wrong direction. There are monsters, too, and an ekranoplan, and a new Cold War. It's called 'Planet of Fear.' That's one thing I didn't have to change, at least.


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