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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Steel Driver

The story on the preview page has been changed!

It now carries an early story, "The Steel Driver," a novelette which appeared in ANALOG (June, 1988) and has never been reprinted.

The story is set in the Babbage Society "universe" and the entire first section consists of a meeting of the council whose successors played a role in the novel In the Country of the Blind.

This council, with its mathematical history and primitive computers, justified ANALOG's purchase as a science fiction story. However, I have always held that the core story -- that of John Henry, the steel-driving man -- was always the prototypical SF story: the impact of advancing technology on the lives of people. That the technology is now to us an old hat does not change that.

The account is based on what purport to be contemporary accounts, including Henry's wife, the doctor from Baltimore, the timekeeper Johnston, and the contest rules. Feats performed by John Henry were incorporated into the contest.

It was my sixth published story. There are some awkward sentences and such, and as you know, Bob, were I writing it today it might run smoother.


  1. Very nice. John Henry should be a more contemplated figure in our foundational mythology.

    The Country of Blind was fun as well, bringing psychohistory down to earth, as it were. Read it a couple years back.

  2. Ooo! I like it!

    There was a big wave of Arthuriana in the U.S. after the Civil War, whose only lasting impact was the King Arthur Flour Company & Mark Twain's story (in that order, to my mind). Seems quite plausible rail road men might have known the basics.

    Is the hazing method historical, or did you make that up?

    And thank you, that was awesome.


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