So, we heard from Boskone that the NESFA* Book Club is currently reading Conflict of Honors and will be discussing it at the con (time and day will be listed in the final schedule posts). They ask that we be present at the end of the discussion in order to answer questions.
Now, it’s been a long time since I read Conflict of Honors (as opposed to, say, reading galleys of Conflict of Honors, which is a whole ‘nother process), and while I sort of have it as a gestalt in my head, at this distance I’m certainly not clear on the simple basics of How The Story Goes. Obviously, then, I need to reread.
I began this project yesterday afternoon, and because I’m a slow reader, I made it all the way to Shipyear 65/Tripday 130/Fouth Shift/18.00 Hours, in which Pilot Dyson wakes Priscilla up.
Narratively speaking, things are going well, so far. Not so well for Priscilla, of course, and I wish I could have another go at Dagmar, who’s a little too…too. On the other hand, there’s this —
Conflict of Honors was published when I was 36. I stand before you today, 63. Palindromes aside, it’s worth noting that Conflict was the second novel we finished**, and it was originally thought to be a short story***, to give us a better handle on Val Con’s brother Shan. We wrote it while Agent of Change was under submission at Del Rey, and submitted it while Agent was under submission at Del Rey — in September 1986. It was accepted for publication in September 1987.
Agent of Change was published in February 1988; Conflict of Honors was published in June 1988, to hold the pocket left empty by the non-delivery of a contracted book by another author. Because it was not published for Itself Alone, it kind of got short shrift, though Romantic Times picked it up and gave it a glowing review, SFR/RSF being thin on the ground at the time. So thin, in fact, that we hadn’t yet invented the names Science Fiction Romance or Romantic Science Fiction, and were still formulating what “this” was, why it appealed, and why we wanted more, please.
Agent, Conflict and Carpe Diem (published in November 1989), were all paperback originals. Paperback originals were not. . .considered to be Timeless Classics. They were considered to be cheap entertainment, to be read once, or maybe twice, and then given — or thrown — away. The original Liaden “trilogy” has been republished now three times since the 1980s, and are, as I type this, available in print, as ebooks, and as audiobooks.
That’s an astonishing amount of staying power, and I sometimes wish that we could have known, ‘way back that the books would survive to be studied or scrutinized by readers 30 years down the timeline with values and experiences of which we wot not — though what we might have done differently, I can’t say.
In other news, it snowed yesterday — not much, but still, it snowed. The plowman arrived this morning — early as we count the day, damn’ near lunch-time as the plowguy figures. Now that breakfast is done, and this blog post about ready to go up, I’ll be donning coat and gloves and boots and widening the path from the driveway around the house to the generator, and digging our mailbox out of the pile of snow the across-the-street neighbor thoughtfully placed over it, to keep it from drying out.
After that, I believe I may make another pot of coffee and settle in to read.
Tomorrow, we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday which, among other things, means no mail, no bills, no checks. Baji-naji, I suppose, or at least good enough for rock and roll.
MLK Day also means that schools are closed, and Pickleball is nudged up and shortened from 9am-noon to 8am-10am. I am actually considering getting up in time to attend Pickleball tomorrow, assuming that I can keep dodging Steve’s cold, so that I can try out my brand! new! paddle.
What’re y’all doing that’s fun or exciting?
*The New England Science Fiction Association, which sponsors Boskone.
**Actually, it is the third novel we completed. We lately uncovered a draft of a Kinzel novel that was never published; the original lost at the publisher, and very likely a good thing.
***And is, in fact, a very short novel by today’s standards. The Card says it was submitted at 82,000 words; the electronic copy from Baen says 86,345 — but the front matter is included in that count.