Please accept my most earnest thanks for the precious gift of your irreplaceable time. Not only the time you expended in actually reading the monstrosity, of course but, more benefit to me, actually articulating what you found in it. I am multiply in your debt, particularly since you are not asking for your money back. I wisely did not guarantee the work.
There seems to be no limit to the amount of stroking that my ego can soak up, so I found your first burst of praise to rush by much too quickly. Nevertheless, I thank you for the kindnesses. While I will make no futile effort to redeem my novel, believing that things must fail on their own merits, I am happy to offer a little post hoc illumination, since much of your insightful, dispassionate, and over-all objective review did include a number of question marks.
The book is not intended to be a touchy feely personal growth coming of age piece, though I realize that SOME of that can serve a story, and too little leaves it a little lacking. That type of stuff is clearly not my strength, and I don’t blanch at your pointing it out. The intent, and I hope I wasn’t too far from the mark, was to be an adventure story with comic elements, with a little mental stimulus and a few historical and cultural tropes thrown in for fun.
Donnie is one of my favorites, too. I started out hating the little weasel, but he kind of took on a life of his own. Fact is, neither Donnie nor Lena were intended for particular greatness in the story, but once I had -- not created -- channeled?-- Once I had fleshed them out they pretty much took over. With most characters I find I have to make a deliberate effort to distinguish them. Because I am lazy, I tend to model my protagonists after me. Harry is me. Clark is me. Sugar is me. Heywood and Brian and Lem are all me. Less so, Lem, of course, as I don’t share his faith, and more so Clark, though still a theist, but we do share a strong female chauvinism. Mostly I’m Harry and Sugar, albeit at different stages of my life, and of course, I never had to escape from an Islamo-Christian-Commie-Death-Cult.
Alternate history not interesting? Everybody‘s right about what he likes. I found it to be a useful device to re-render a blank canvas of the North American continent with many of the same forces contesting it again, and used it as an opportunity to explore different structures of governments. I tried to spice it up with references to separatist and fusion movements throughout history, as well as a few thinly veiled references to people we might think we already know. (Do you think “Rusty Sharpe” or “Fightin’ Fidel” might recognize themselves?) Maybe too ambitious? I went into greater detail in earlier drafts. You think it‘s didactic now? It was positively turgid earlier. You got off easy, even though you may have felt a little adrift at times. Even as it was I think I was a bit heavy handed in pounding my drum vis a‘ vis hard money, human bondage, and bigotry. No defense but, “I‘m still learning?” And faster with your generous guidance.
If there is a “theme“ to the story, I guess it is that history is preposterous and life is precarious. I had hoped that de Tocqueville would have set that tone up front.
Okeh? English orthography has not been formalized for very long and in its brief lifetime has undergone some mutations. I wanted to pepper the text with constant reminders of the “alien-ness“ of my particular California Confederacy. Again, earlier drafts were lousy with variant spellings, but as one alpha reader pointed out, “Whenever I read about someone using his sabre to cut a grey fibre in the theatre my brain skips.” So again, you got off easy. I’m sorry you tripped over okeh. When I “invented” that spelling I didn’t know that it was already an “acceptable” alternative, I just thought it made internal sense. I still do, and you don’t, and we get to disagree, and so far you, at least, have not been disagreeable about it.
In an effort not to club the reader over the head, I may have ended up being too vague, As far as never mentioning Hitler, however, Adam does relate to his guests that his grandfather, after having served his Kaiser, was exiled to German held (formerly British) Guyana (Gaijana). The elder Schickler was hounded out of Europe by “Slavs and Jews”, and then out of Dixie by the christo-commie-muslim revolutionaries. Harry was never casting cultural slurs at Teuts per se, he simply alluded to Schickler’s personal and family history. It may be schoolyard juvenilia to refer to someone inaccurately, either to mispronounce his name, or to hark back to an earlier variant, but if I’m an arrested adolescent, then perhaps Harry can’t help it either. Nevertheless, I thank you for the observation, and I’ll give it a little more thought. While many of my characters are vile and racist and misogynistic, I hope that I am not, nor thought to be.
West of 89? Why not? The dimensional dissonance flags the counterfactual historical aspect of that particular branch of spec-fic., and I thought The Coefficient of Restitution might fallute a little too highly. Other contenders were Hamurabe’s Farm, Death Camp California, and Black Adam.
Cosmological essay. I think you refer to my (poetically pretentious?) recapitulation of the recent geologic history of the Cascadian (Republic of Idaho in Westworld and eastern Oregon and Washington in our world) high desert. I was trying to set up the science behind Harry’s final solution to California’s Aryan problem. I may have overplayed it. You clearly thought so, but I found it rather satisfying. Again, de gustibus non disputandum, ne-c’est pas?
You coaxed me in with kindness, gave me the hearty slapping around I so richly deserved, and then eased me back out with your assurance that on balance you found my effort to be worthy of your time. I couldn’t be more tickled unless I started selling LOTS more copies.
Once again, thank you for your valuable time. I will cherish your good wishes and ponder your pronouncements.
Your comrade for liberty,
Gene Greigh (aka Professor Bernardo de la Paz)
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West of 89
a novel of another america