Friday, May 29, 2015

Review: Letters from Gardner by Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press) SP (Excerpt from the Hugo voter's package)

Review: Letters from Gardner by Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press) SP (Excerpt from the Hugo voter's package)

The Hugo voter's packet contains about a third of this book. It's a series of short stories by Mr. Antonelli, linked by writing advice he received as feedback from magazine editors, especially Gardner Dozois, on those stories, as well as autobiographical material. He then describes what he did to rewrite or improve the story.

The stories themselves are okay – they remind me of Heinlein, or at least that type of older pulp story. Avram Davidson without the highfalutin' style, maybe. I do like this sort of story. (I've said before that my ideal SF or F story is short and has A Funny Punchline, and at least one of these does.) In the excerpt, we didn't get into any long back-and-forth arguments or discussions with Dozois, so I didn't feel as though I was getting a lot of high-end editorial writing advice. If that was the point of the book, then it's not quite getting there. If the point was to write a folksy memoir and showcase a few stories that were up for a reprint, then it certainly succeeded at that.

My To Be Read pile is already tottering, so I probably won't be buying the rest of Letters from Gardner but I did not begrudge spending the time to read the excerpt.

(If you're after a book on how genre writers write, there are three well-established ones I can recommend: Terry Brooks' Sometimes The Magic Works - Lessons From A Writing Life; Stephen King's On Writing; and Ursula K Le Guin's The Language of the Night, which includes From Elfland to Poughkeepsie, probably the best advice on writing fantasy ever. I also like The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne-Jones, though I find that's one to keep on a coffee-table, to open at random now and again and have a good chuckle.)

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