Monday, 8 August 2011

The Outpost

After reading up about one of Jim Steel's pals, and their unfortunate run in with a serial plagiarizer, I began to get a bit worried about one of my own stories.

The Outpost had been accepted for publication over a year ago, and despite one attempt to find out what was happening - these attempts are infrequent like most things, a victim of my terrible memory - it had gone MIA.

So on investigation there, I found the story had been published after all. Heart in mouth? No, credited to me, and available for the masses. All good. Phew!

So thanks to Static Movement, and The Outpost is here.

Funny thing about this story. When I said in the pub that I was going to attempt a proper SF story, the nearest writers were aghast! My reputation with SF, despite that love of Doctor Who, has never been a strong one, much to my family's distaste. But still, the idea came, and so I ran with it. I believe it is also one of the first stories in which I name dropped Duncan Lunan's Politics of Survival into the story.

In the great Jim Steel tradition, we have characters named after Duncan Lunan/Jim Campbell, Tom Jordan, Alan Steel, Seumas, and cameos by my late grandfathers Bob and George. Still, writing is autobiography exaggerated. Sorry the name dropped die, it's that kind of a story. As with the project it was originally planned for, it was stream-of-thought ala Virginia Woolf.

What kind of a story? End of the world. Only hopes for humanity was to reach out to the stars, which they did. There was a snag though. The second last survivor of a forgotten Outpost monologues his dying moments to the last survivor.

It's an old story now, four years old in fact, and not as representative of me any more. Looking back at it is like looking at the work of a stranger. Am I disappointed? Not really. The prose is more purple, less refined, the jokes more forced, the voice not yet found. But it still needs to exist. Only by seeing how your work improves can point you in the direction to further improvement, after all. I'm not sure I'd passed Wilde's "Faust or Christ" phase either, hell, I'm not sure if most writers DO.

So... The Outpost. I like it, even if I'd rewrite it now. But then, perfectionism never lets one go.