Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Captive Dreams

Arc Manor will be publishing a collection of my stories at some indeterminate time in the near future.  This collection will consist of three old stories and three brand new ones.  I just got word that the editor has decided that the three new stories are not so irredeemably lacking in merit as to reject them out of hand.  IOW, he is paying me good cash money for the exclusive right to publish them.

The collection will be available in both dead tree and e format.  It may even be that, as he did with The Forest of Time et al., he will make the individual stories evailable at lower prices. 

The stories are to be:
  1. Melodies of the Heart
  2. Captive Dreams
  3. Hopeful Monsters
  4. Places Where the Roads Don't Go
  5. Remember'd Kisses
  6. Buried Hopes

The stories are listed by internal logic/chronology and those in boldface are the new ones.   The ties that bind them is that the protagonists in each story live in the same neighborhood, an oval made by two roads enclosing a woodland inside the loop.  Characters in one story may make cameos in another. 

The stories are set in the world of The Nanotech Chronicles, so one cameo is Charlie Singer, who with Jessica Burton-Peeler, is the protagonist of "Soul of the City" and "The Washer at the Ford."  He appears in "Hopeful Monsters."  

Excerpts below the cut



An excerpt from "Buried Hopes"
Rann Velkrann has gone to see Dr. Abbot, a grief counselor.
   She [Dr. Abbot] looked up and arranged her notes in a leather folder against her knees.  “Something is bothering you.” 
   Rann looked for the question mark at the end, but of course it was not there.  He would not have come to her if nothing bothered him.  Rann said, “Depression, I think.” 
   Ms. Abbot glanced at the questionnaire he had filled out.  “Don’t you know?” 
   “I’ve always been given to melancholy and nostalgia.  It’s in my blood, and who can gage whether it is a little more or a little less.  But it seems to me that it has deepened these past few weeks…” 
   “What is it that causes you to feel depressed?” 
   “I thought you might tell me.  I mean, that’s your job, isn’t it?” 
   Ms. Abbot made a brief moue with her lips.  “My job is to help you tell yourself.  To help you search, as it were.  But why don’t we start with something else.  Tell me a little about yourself.  You live in New Jersey…”  She tapped the forms he had filled out.  “But you’ve come all the way into Manhattan to see me.” 
   “You should feel flattered.” 
   “I would if ‘Abbot’ were not the first listing in the index.” 
   “Then I think you know why.  I would rather not do this closer to home.” 
   “There’s no stigma to seeing a counselor.” 
   Rann answered with another shrug and then, when the silence had dragged on, suddenly blurted, “Did you know that the international space station was de-orbited?” 
   Ms. Abbot seemed accustomed to conversational left turns.  Deflection, it was called.  “I saw something about it on the news.  It was worn out and abandoned, wasn’t it?” 
   “It didn’t have to be.  It could have been maintained, upgraded, replaced.” 
   “Is that why you’ve been feeling depressed?  Because the old space station was decommissioned?” 
   “I…”  Was it? he wondered.  “I’m sentimental.  I hate to see things end.  The last moonwalker died… oh, years ago.  No longer lives there anyone who has walked upon the moon.” 
   “Ah, that was before my time, I’m afraid.  And didn’t it turn out to be a hoax?” 




An excerpt from "Hopeful Monsters"
Opening paragraphs.
   It was a brilliant spring day when Karen Sorklose brought home her perfect baby.  It was of a piece with the day, which was likewise perfect.  Flowers sported red and yellow among roadside bushes, burst from front gardens, and draped precipitous hillsides with bridal veils.  Laurel and forsythia and daffodils sweetened the air, and Karen responded with her own glow.  She was a mother.  Like spring, she had burst forth. 
   It was cause for celebration, and so shortly after returning from the Choice Center, she and Bill invited family, friends, and neighbors over.  All of them agreed that Rachel was perfect, perhaps the most perfect baby ever born.  In part, this must have been no less than politeness, but much of it was no more than truth.  Not only had Rachel scored a perfect 10 on her APGAR but going beyond appearance and activity, she exhibited a delicacy and symmetry of feature, an alertness and focus in her gaze, a genuine benevolence in her grimace that was given to few other newborns.  Except, of course, for those others whose parents had used the Child Design Department. 

Excerpt from "Places Where the Roads Don't Go"

Ex-college friends Jared [a philosopher], Kyle [a computer guru], and Mac [a mathematician] are having dinner at the Palmenhaus in Vienna one fine summer day, ten years after graduation. 
   Kyle picked up his glass and swirled the port around.  Then he sighed and drank.  “Jared, I hate to say this, but…  You may be on to something.”  He set the snifter down and fell silent as his gaze lit on a small white butterfly that had escaped the Butterfly House.  Then, he leaned across the table, taking us into his confidence. 
   “I’m going to do it, guys.  I’m going to create the first artificial intelligence.” 
   Jared grinned.  “I’m still looking for the natural kind.” 
   But Kyle was in earnest.  “Don’t laugh, Jared.  Children will study about me in their schoolbooks.” 
   “A helluva thing to do to the poor kids,” I suggested. 
   Jared pursed his lips and looked distant.  “I don’t know.  The airlines use flight simulators and you can get inside one and it’s just like piloting a 787 from New York to LA; but with one crucial difference.” 
   “What’s that?” Kyle asked.
   “When you get out of the simulator, you won’t actually be in LA.” 

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