* Getting to Know You
David Marusek. Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com), $25 (297p) ISBN 978-1-59606-088-3
Marusek, in a blurb for this superb collection of 10 stories (all the shorter SF he's published to date), gives fair warning when he says he lays his stories "like traps and bait[s] them with shiny ideas." Since the author lives in Alaska, it's no surprise to find that his characters inhabit extreme environments, both physical and psychological. "The Earth Is on the Mend" and "Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz" are set in the Arctic, with characters made pragmatic by cold circumstance. Similarly stark is the world of "Cabbages and Kale or How We Downsized North America" (one of several entries that are sketches for his 2006 novel, Counting Heads), where characters fight to stay ahead of change, and one bad decision can topple a world. Marusek's "shiny ideas"—cloned laborers, electronic "proxies," the "boutique economy"—sparkle, but these assured stories also draw on core SF themes: in the face of change, what does it mean to be human, and where do we draw the line between helping ourselves and hurting others? (Apr.)
Monday, February 12, 2007
My story collection got a starred review in Publishers Weekly today. Very cool and a good way to start out. The title above is linked to the review, but you need to be a subscriber.
When I received the first galleys of my story collection to proof, I was compelled to read all eleven stories again, looking for typos and errors. When you write a story (or novel), you have to read and reread the piece many times, from first glimmerings, through many drafts, and much polishing to the final typeset galleys. Generally, you don't read the story when it comes out in print because by then you're sick of it and would feel satisfied if you never saw the story again in this life.
In addition, I updated "We Were Out of Our Minds with Joy" for inclusion in the novel, so I must have read that one well over 50 times. It's truly hard to read something so many times.
After the first read-through, I returned the galley. Then I realized that the manuscripts I had supplied Subterranean Press had never been reconciled to the published version of the stories. And there are always subtle edits done in the final copyediting. So I was faced with going through the eleven stories yet another time, this time comparing them word for word against the published versions.
My heart was not up to the task. I knew it would crush me, so I sent out a plea for help to the Borough Library SF reading group I belong to. And this young woman answered the call and volunteered to do the final read through for me. She may have saved my sanity; therefore, I pronounce Sharron Albert a True Hero of the Arts!