My Essay Accepted for Publication

The news this late October is that I’ve had an 11,000 word essay, the one I’ve been working on since June, accepted by Gary Westfahl for publication in a volume of essays to be published in a year or so by McFarland, provisionally titled A New Sense of Wonder: Re-Defining Science Fiction in the Twenty-First Century. The title of the essay is “Evolutionary Psychology, Science Fiction, and Consilience,” and it brings together many of the themes I’ve discussed on this blog, as drawn from the many nonfiction books I’ve read over the past decade, many (but not all; I’m behind) of those discussed on this blog. As they apply to science fiction, and bring a new understanding to what science fiction *is*. (Some of these ideas appeared in the two dozen plus reviews I did for Black Gate, in 2020 and 2021, and in the reviews of a baker’s dozen of novellas that I did, July-Oct 2022, in support of a short fiction group on Facebook, and posted here on my blog.) The book, presumably, will look like these earlier Westfahl volumes.

I thought I had a draft, at about 5000 words, ready at the end of June, but I hesitated to submit since Gary told me there was no urgency; McFarland was backlogged with an earlier title of his, and he said another contributor wouldn’t be finished until the end of Summer. He repeated that caution a couple months later. So I kept tinkering with the essay. Almost every new nonfiction book I read offered new ideas, new perspectives, that I could have inserted into the essay, and I did add some. (But stopped. Robert Charles Wilson’s book, the Jonathan Rauch book. Save them for later.) Then I realized I had a theoretical outline without many examples, so I started adding examples, and the essay gradually expanded to twice the original size.

Also, footnotes! Or rather, endnotes. Gary’s essay anthologies are academically oriented (which is why there’s no pay) in that they count as academic credits, and depend on sources. So I studied the contributions to his earlier books (like those in the photo), and pulled together some 50 end notes, referencing publication of titles I mentioned in the text, particular passages in those texts that I was quoting or referencing, and even some personal asides.

And I kept tinkering, and revising, and smoothing out prose. I kept having new ideas — near the end, e.g., about reconsidering the very definition of “sense of wonder.” (In opposition to Gary K. Wolfe’s THE KNOWN AND THE UNKNOWN, which I’ve only partially read, and so did not reference in the essay.)

I could go on and on. But I’m relieved this essay is done, and that Gary is happy with it.

Now: what’s next?

This has been a good draft for a portion of my imaginary book. Gary’s invite in April made me go to work and actually *finish* something, even if it took six months.

But before turning to that larger writing project: I have pieces of that I’ve envisioned for a decade, that I think I should work on next.

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