Thursday, June 2, 2011

CONduit Report: He's Science Fiction, but She's Steampunk

I met Bill Housley of Wyoming at the Con.  He's the author of a novel called Into the Dark: Escape of the Nomad (Cowboy Logic, 2010), which I just finished reading.  Bill Housley and Umberto Eco back to back are some stiff competition, but I expect Umberto can take comfort from the fact that Bill's not after his medieval thrillers audience.

Into the Dark is Star Trek: First Contact meets The Astronaut Farmer with John Galt cast in the starring role.  It is science fiction and also a thriller and also a call to action, strongly advocating the manned exploration of space (which I support, too, whether or not there are alien civilizations out there waiting to bio-mine us out of existence if we fail to achieve it).

Bill makes the first chapter of Into the Dark available on his blog (link above).  It's a strong start, and I recommend it for writers thinking about how to begin a novel.  Some strong points:

  • it begins on conflict (an argument);
  • it has to handle a lot of exposition, and for the most part it builds this into the argument, which is almost always the best (least boring) way to handle exposition;
  • the protagonist is introduced;
  • the stakes (interstellar war and the destruction of the Earth) are made clear; and
  • the chapter ends on something of a hook -- even the good guys are skirting at the fringes of the law.
Bill attended CONduit with his daughter and assistant, Alicia, who went in character as Bess Raptor (a stylish steampunk sky pirate of her own creation).  Here's Bess:

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