Photo by Delphyne Joan Hanke-Woods
It's been some time since I updated my Web page. My apologies. I don't know how much of an explanation I have to offer except to say it's been hectic and that my "day job" is in the newspaper industry. That's not quite as dramatic as saying that the dog (or in my case, a large theropod dinosaur) ate my last story, but it will have to suffice. I feel a little like Buster Keaton without the talent, taking a series of professional pratfalls.
But I'm back — at least I feel like I'm back. And I'm planning to stay back.
I need to introduce myself to some of you.
I was born an alien.
Well, it felt that way much of the time. A stranger. An outsider. A square peg.
In Chicago, in mid-century (the previous one), you weren't supposed to feel like an alien, which only made it all the harder to fit in.
There were a lot of us aliens back then, living between two worlds, if not three or four. Strangers in a Strange Land. Most of us — maybe all of us — gravitated toward science fiction. What else made sense, really? Music, baseball, comic books, Warner Bros. cartoons — a few other precious exceptions. But science fiction gave us a viewpoint, a perspective. Science fiction, as Damon Knight noted, "... is not just a category but a way of looking at the universe."
Even when I wasn't thinking about science fiction, I was thinking like a science fiction writer. But I didn't recognize that until I was nearly thirty.
I'd been a "lurker" in fandom long before there was an Internet. I'd become aware of fandom back in the 1960s, but I was too shy to take part in anything except to read the fanzines, look at all the cool photos of people having fun at cons and write a few movie reviews for a fanzine in far-off Baldwin Harbor, New York. It wasn't until 1984 that I worked up the courage to attend a con.
I've been going to conventions ever since. It feels like coming home.
Yes, home is a strange, messy place. Only my home is messier.
I was already writing, and already decided to "come home" to sf. Windycon really opened the door in many, many ways. My first "pro" sale was a story submitted to the ISFiC contest (and it won, hurrah!). A couple of hours in one of Barry Longyear's workshops and a screening of Galaxina in the film room brought that story about ("A Man Makes a Machine," Amazing, Nov. '90).
I've concentrated on short fiction and poetry, but I keep threatening to write a novel. Never one to follow my own advice, I've started two now. It may turn out to be the "Novel Death Match" — two enter the ring, only one will walk away. But I have a feeling that neither one will leave me alone for long (and I have notes for many more).
In the meantime, antiquarians of the recent past can find my fiction in various places— check out: Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jul 1998 and SFWA Members' Fiction for some early stories and the novella "Bronte's Egg," which won a Nebula Award a few years back. You can also find "Bronte's Egg" in Nebula Awards Showcase 2004, edited by Vonda N. McIntyre. The story that precedes that is "The Measure of All Things," and can be found in Year's Best SF 7, Edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. The story that follows "Bronte," "In Tibor's Cardboard Castle" can still be found in the October/November 2004 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. The next story in the "saur" series I hope will be finished soon, and even more are on the drawing/writing board even as I speak.
Recent stories of mine appear in the Twilight Tales anthology Tales From the Red Lion and the Hadley Rille Books anthology Visual Journeys, edited by Eric Reynolds. Upcoming is a story in Hell in the Heartland, edited by Roger Trexler and Martel Sardina, from Annihilation Press.
A couple of examples of my poetry can be found in Year's Best SF 8, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer ("A Few Kind Words for A. E. Van Vogt"), and at Strange Horizons ("Rich and Pam Go to Fermilab and Later See a Dead Man").
The main complaint I hear (among many) is that I don't write more. Other important complaints are that I don't have a collection out, or a novel, and that I don't clean out the refrigerator often enough. I'll try to address all these complaints and do something about at least two of them.
There are things in that refrigerator that must feel more alien than I ever have.
And they're learning how to open the door.
— Richard Chwedyk