And so, another saur story comes into the world.
I’m very glad and relieved to say that “The Man Who Put the Bomp” will be in the March/April 2017 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
What took me so long?
Well might you ask.
You may recall that “Orfy” came out in 2010. That’s a long span between stories, isn’t it?
Life always gets in the way of a good story, at least for me.
Many people like these stories, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Another group of people are not so fond of them. Well, you can’t please everyone. Those folks usually talk about them being maudlin or sentimental, and I wonder what it is in my work that comes off that way. I’m not particularly maudlin, not very sentimental – not really. If anything, I would think folks would object to my stories because they’re just crazy. Bioengineered dinosaurs! DIY robots! Dinosaurs sending messages to “Space Guys”! Misanthropic stegosaurs! Tyrannosaurs writing novels under pseudonyms! Sauropods in cardboard castles and shoebox labs!
What insanity is this?
Honestly, I don’t know. I paint what I see.
I see creatures trying to recover from a bad experience with humanity. I happen to know a lot of folks who can empathize with that situation. Humanity is an experience from which many of us need to recover. Every time it looks like we’ve found the right path to a sort of Arthur C. Clarke-ian transcendence, we scoot down a blind alley of ignorance and despair. It’s like we can’t help ourselves.
A number of people insist my saur stories aren’t science fiction, but fantasy. Call them what you like, but I write science fiction. It’s just that the science may not be in the places you expect to find it, but it’s there.
A lot of readers who like the stories like Axel. A lot of people who don’t like the stories don’t like them because they don’t like Axel. A lot of readers on both sides mistake me for Axel. Would that I were. Maybe then it wouldn’t take me so long to write a saur story.
When we write, we incorporate many parts of ourselves to fill in the places we need for our characters. At times I can be Axel. At times I am Agnes. I would like to be Doc more often, and would like to be Tibor as little as possible, though too often I find myself humming the Tiborean National Anthem.
I have never been Geraldine – well, maybe once or twice.
Science fiction, like any other literary form, is a way to exercise our need to tell a story. A story can be simple and straightforward. It can even be superficial. But, as E. M. Forster pointed out many years ago, you’ve got to have one. A story is a construction. A story is artifice. A story is a tool. A story is a structure. But it can be more than all these things combined, if you’re lucky, if you’re doing it right, if you’re willing to risk looking like a complete fool when you’re done with the thing. And science fiction, at least for me, is the form that is most flexible – that can take any shape, imitate old shapes or create new ones.
You have to keep looking for the story until the story finds you. Once it has found you, the best thing you can do is follow it, trust it – trust it with all your heart, craft, skill and anything you have that passes for talent. Trust it enough that you’ll abandon all those gifts to keep the story on its trajectory.
Whether I’ve managed to do that with this novella, I can’t imagine. The great Chicago poet Paul Carroll used to say, “Our poems are wiser than we are.” I would respectfully add that our stories are also wiser than we ... even when they’re stupid.