This is the 40 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MY FIRST SF PRO SALE AND PUBLICATION!
When I was fifteen I was a winner in Scholastic Inc.’s National Writing Competition, and the editor from Science World saw the story, paid me pro rate even by today’s SFWA standards, and published “The Last Ray of Light” May 18, 1978. Science World doesn’t publish science fiction, they publish articles about science, 500,000 copies an issue, to help science teachers get kids excited about, well, science! So this was a special deal for my story. It did happen to be about a hyperloop/vactrain, many decades before Elon Musk theorized building one through Tesla. There was nothing for me to read on such a thing at the time, but the country was in an energy crisis, and I just made up an energy starved future world, how they would travel, what would happen if the system failed, and the price my protagonist would have to pay to save those people trapped inside.
Forty years later and I’m happy to say the story that kid wrote still works–editor Joe Monson will be reprinting it in the anthology TRACE THE STARS around February 2019 along with stories by New York Times bestselling authors David Farland and Kevin J. Anderson! I am thrilled this tale is coming back to life in an anthology where proceeds will help students reach for the stars! If you get a chance to read it, just forgive my naivete’ about how computers in the future would communicate–our school’s computer lab had a strong impression on me, and those of you in the know will understand why my computer says STOP at the end of every sentence. STOP.
Okay, now, you can stop. STOP. No, seriously, I mean it, computer! STOP.
Are you a Star Trek fan? So am I, and here’s the cover of the anthology my story “Seventh Heaven” appears in, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds II, published by Simon and Schuster’s Pocket Books division. When first released, you could find it in any major bookstore. Now, you can find it on Amazon. It’s a Borg love story, what could be sweeter?
Actually, writing for the Star Trek universe is a challenge, and not just because Paramount owns Star Trek and has rules about their characters, the biggest being YOU CAN’T CHANGE THEM. Since you’re here, I’m betting you probably know something about writing. A basic part of what makes stories satisfying is that your protagonist starts out one way, and by the end of the story, events you have put him or her through have changed your protagonist. It’s called character growth, something we crave in people and may never see <evil grin>, something we expect to find in our fictional characters as they come out of the crucible we writers put them through and pin wings to their chest at the end (ouch!) and say, ‘Attaboy! You learned something!’ But how do you do that when, by the end of the story, you better have them looking exactly like they started out? Because if you don’t, Paramount is going to take that action figure out of your hands and put it back on their shelf and say, “Don’t you ever touch my toys again!”
Try it sometime. It’s one of the most challenging writing exercises you will ever do, and the only way you know you’ve succeeded is when they hand you a check and put you in one of their books.
They did a huge release signing for this one, at the biggest Barnes & Noble I’ve ever seen, in New York City. It was a lot of fun scribbling in fans books:
“Resistance is futile. You WILL be assimilated … but you’ll enjoy the ride.”