There are no rockets in Carmelo’s story in Rocket Science, but there is science. And people. Because stories should always be about people.
I don’t know about others, but trying to write for a publication’s specification can sometimes be difficult for me. Some say it is easy, as it gives you the topic to write about. True, but there still needs to be a story somewhere in that topic an author can find and dig out. And the story will still need to remain within a framework that is acceptable to the publication.
When I had become aware of the specifications for Rocket Science, I was already playing around with a story idea that revolved around the Large Hadron Collider. While I do read many forms of speculative fiction, including hard science fiction, I discovered early on that my own work tended to shift toward the more relational aspects of human interaction, and often using the science aspects as a backdrop to the story.
So there I was, with this idea about the Large Hadron Collider. I also had a story in my head with two characters in a room, and a very personal dilemma unfolding. It was a good little relationship story idea, but it had no real speculative fiction element to it.
Large Hadron Collider. Relationships. Hum…
As a writer, I often put two or more story bits together to create one whole. (That’s why saving bits of stories can be a good idea.) So I decided to marry these two ideas together to see what would happen. Now, writing even a short story can sometimes take me months – I draft, redraft, pull in more parts from bits of story lying around, eliminate other parts, etc. But sometimes the story is right there, up front, and I am lucky enough to write it in a few weeks. ‘Slipping Sideways’ is one of those stories. When I married these two ideas, the story was right there and it “happened” before my eyes.
Sending it off to Ian Sales resulted in a very kind request for a small rewrite. To be honest, I wasn’t sure the story was what Ian was looking for. However, I was happy to discover that Ian not only liked this little relationship story, but was willing to publish it pending a small fix-up. Now, rewrites are usually itching powder for most writers who think they’d nailed it in the final draft. But I was amazed to find that my rewrite came quickly, smoothly.
And you know what? Ian was absolutely correct in requesting a rewrite. Having read back the story to myself, I find it is a much better story as a result of Ian’s clear direction. I hope you do, too.
Carmelo Rafala’s work has appeared in Jupiter, Estronimicon, as well as the anthology The West Pier Gazette and Other Stories. In addition to Rocket Science, he is also slated to be published in an upcoming anthology by Wildside Press. When not sleeping – which is often – he is Senior Editor for Immersion Press. Follow him at carmelorafala.wordpress.com.