Writer Me, Editor Me, and Reader Me Should Have Had A Conversation

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…about the title for this novella. The End of the World gets used a lot, and while the title is accurate, kinda sorta, for this piece, it’s not the kind of title that makes you—or even me, the author—go, “Oh, yeah! That story.” Whoops.

Not changing it now, though.

I promised you all I’d tell little background stories about the novellas that are in the Six Science Fiction Novellas Kickstarter which goes until Thursday.

For about ten years or so, the Universitat Politèchnica de Catalunya in Barcelona held a worldwide science fiction novella contest. It was a blind contest (meaning that you submitted anonymously) with huge prizes, funded by the university, the Spanish government, and a few other places. I got paid more for the novellas that placed in this contents (and there was more than one) than I did for a couple of novels. In addition, the novella was reprinted in an anthology that was published in both Spanish and Catalan editions. It was cool…but it became a victim of the Great Recession. When the contest was briefly revived, you had to pay to enter, something I never do.

Anyway, I made sure I wrote a novella per year that I could submit to the contest. I could sell the novella in English after the contest was over, and usually did, often to Asimov’s. Not every novella I wrote placed, but a few did and a couple won the overall prize.

This novella won one of the prizes. The interesting thing about The End of the World, though, is that it is one of the few that I did not write specifically for the contest. I wrote it for an anthology that Mike Resnick was editing for The Science Fiction Book Club called Alien Crimes.

I have no idea where the actual story came from. It features Eastern Oregon, which was going through some changes as I wrote this, and maybe some horrid things I’d learned about the state around that time. There were massacres in Oregon as well as entire groups (from the Chinese to the Native Americans to the Black population) that were chased out of various communities. We won’t even talk about the racist elements of Oregon’s state constitution that remained in place into the late 20th century.

I’m sure all of that got mixed into the stew of The End of the World. I always write what I want to write and what intrigues me. What you will read at the opening of this story is what I started with, and it provided me with the questions about what happens next as well as why did this happen at all.

Now, fast forward to late 2023. I was getting ready to teach an sf mystery class (that I mention in the video for this Kickstarter). I wanted the class to read Alien Crimes. I figured it had to have an ebook edition, right?

No. And at the time, there were only about 10 copies available on Bookfinder.com.  The original publication is rare. In order to have my students read all of those novellas at the same time, I would have had to recreate the book, which I didn’t want to do.

Discovering that the volume Mike edited was out of print and hard to find, as well as another volume that I will mention later in this little series, really lit a fire under me. Through WMG Publishing, we had reprinted all of my sf novellas but we hadn’t done a lot of discoverability on most of them. That’s what this Kickstarter is for, to bring them back to your attention.

It does make me sad, though, that the volume of Alien Crimes is no longer easy to find. Every editor puts their work together in a way that creates yet another form of art. I hate it when these anthologies disappear.

Anyway…the title. It is accurate. It just isn’t exciting. Still, the story is one of my very favorites and I love the cover.

I hope you’ll pick up The End of the World with the other five novellas, and all of the sf novelettes that will come with the stretch goals. Click here to take a peek. Enjoy!


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