Various thoughts about travel, writing, and publishing -- plus anything else that is worth a comment by award winning science fiction author Henry Melton
Saturday, March 03, 2012
Henry's Stories Anthology
Just out in Amazon, and shortly in B&N, Kobo, iBookstore, Google Editions, etc, and of course available from Ingram, is my first attempt at a book-sized anthology of short fiction. Notice the qualifications. I still have a few chapbooks left that I produced in 2006 that contained three short stories, and an e-book only collection of four time-travel themed stories that I made in 2009 at the same time as my Golden Girl time travel novel.
But this one, Henry's Stories: Volume 1 is much fatter, containing ten stories at about 73,000 words -- about the size of a smaller novel. As far as the publishing side, I'm treating it like I do the novels, simultaneous publication in trader paperback and ebook versions. I call it "Volume 1" because I already have all the stories of "Volume 2" picked out and ready. I just need to wait until the right moment in time to publish it (Probably six to nine months from now).
As many of you know Henry's Stories is my on-line magazine, where I publish stories in chapter-sized chunks every MWF. The magazine is targeted to people who tend to read only on the web, and not books and paper magazines. I know there are a lot of people who fit that classification.
It was a welcome home for some of my earlier stories that had been published in magazines now long gone. Maybe I had a wrinkled and worn copy, but the stories weren't available to the general public. Luckily, I had made it a long habit of keeping my copyrights in order and had all the rights to republish them myself.
So I did. Here, at last, is a more permanent home for some of my favorites.
First published in 1985, in Dragon magazine. This story of a teenage girl trying to make some cash playing in the computer game Catacomb was nothing out of the order when I wrote it. I had friends playing D&D at my house and got the taste of it, although I was never a player myself. I wrote the story and sent it off to various science fiction and fantasy magazines. George Scithers of Amazing didn't take it himself, but routed it over to Dragon, which I would never have thought to contact myself. It was a lucky move. They bought it and made it available for just the right people.
Over the years, I have collected more fan mail from this one story than all my other works to date. Some of them told me that this story got them into the gaming industry. Some of them are significant people in that industry -- so I'm told. It's amazing to me, the impact this story seems to have caused. And I'm grateful for every one of those letters and emails. Sometimes that's all that keeps a writer going.
Everybody Knows Bob
First published in Henry's Stories. As I was preparing this collection, there were a number of scientific papers being published about new techniques for altering or removing memories. While this story is clearly a fantasy, the concept of the impermanence of memory is a significant thread, and something worth thinking about.
First published in my ebook collection Time Quadrants in 2009. This story always brings a smile. Back when superconductors were just invented that could be active at liquid nitrogen temperatures, I had friends who knew the inventors, so I managed to see a demonstration of a magnet floating over a frosty bed of superconductor. That's what sparked this story, and since the train derailment between Hutto and Round Rock Texas was recent history, all the pieces came together nicely. It was first written before I realized that I could write YA science fiction, but clearly, this story is in that category.
First published for Henry's Stories. This story of a boy genius hiding his capabilities was the first story in the online magazine, and I have every intention of writing more episodes. Some of the events in Ted's life such as being held upside down in the school yard by the class bully and fighting back with silence were straight out of my own experience, although Ted is certainly much smarter than I ever was.
First published for Henry's Stories. This is one of the longer stories in the collection, and if things had gone another way, I could have made this into one of my YA novels. Instead, I wrote a little tale of destiny and the girl who haunted his dreams. When I finished and typed the final period, I had to firmly put the next chapter off on the to-do list rather than dive into an entirely different stage of their lives.
First published in 1990 in New Pathways. This short little idea story actually belongs in the events of The Project Saga, the new series of novels that are currently coming out. In fact quite a few of my short stories belong to that time line. One little side note; about a decade after I wrote this, I came down with diabetes myself. In fact, I just stuck my finger for a blood test as I was writing this.
First published for Henry's Stories. For decades, I lived in the Austin area and made regular trips to Amarillo to visit my folks. On my favorite route, I passed through the canyon where this story takes place, and while the editors who saw this story thought the desertificiation of the Texas Panhandle was unbelievable, they all lived in NY and had no clue. You should see the sand dunes that are already there. As far as the hydrogen collector in the story goes, if I had just the slightest ability to build it myself, I'd do it.
First published in 1977 for the short-lived computer magazine ROM. After I published a little article about computers and science fiction in BYTE magazine, the editor of ROM called me up and asked for a story on the theme of 'memory'. Being young and unknown at the time, I wrote this story in about a day and sent it off. It's been popular. Now, while I got so much of the future technology wrong, I still have a fondness for the wristwatch. Imagine something the size of an iPod Nano 6 with the capabilities of an enhanced iPhone. Since the day I wrote it, I've been on the look out for the perfect 'personal' computer. It's not here yet. But, as an added bonus. I've never forgotten my wife's birthday.
First published in my ebook collection Time Quadrants in 2009. This was written to try out new techniques of writing, after I had been exposed to Dashiell Hammett's style. Of course, I can't write hard-boiled detective, I do science fiction. But since this was an exercise, I ended up with a 1950's plot in a 1930's style. Still, after it was written, I was pleased with how it had turned out.
Making It Fit
First published in my ebook collection Time Quadrants in 2009. Ah, time travel. It's an addictive storytelling method, but there are so many options. Do you change the past and deal with the paradoxes? Do you struggle, and fail, to change a past that has been written and cannot change? I concentrated on a different theme -- if the past cannot be changed, what is time travel good for? If I had to rank my favorite short stories, this one would certainly be high on that list.
In all, I think these are a fine start for the series. All of the stories can be read for free on the magazine site, if you like to click through links. Paper and ebook now gives other people access, and probably within a few days, you can even get an autographed copy from me. I'll post a link when they're here.