Baby’s First Fall

Baby’s First Fall was my first and so far only published piece of fiction. It was kindly accepted for publication by Gary Markette at Anotherealm. I’m glad to see the site is still alive and well five years later and the story itself still available for reading online, even if he did call me Mr. Yew.

The story is the only decent thing of mine that came out of my participation in the now defunct Del Rey Online Writing Workshop. According to the website of Ellen Key Harris-Braun who apparently constructed the site for Del Rey, it was an early example of the community peer-review environment that is widely prevalent today and attracted over 8,000 members at its height.

My participation in the workshop was motivated by a conscious and deliberate effort to write some original SF, particularly in imitation of the short stories of greats like Frederik Pohl, John W. Campbell, A.E. van Vogt and Isaac Asimov, that I read and so loved as a child that best exemplified SF as the literature of ideas. This particular story that I wrote was inspired by a song that I first heard while studying French in Besançon. The surreality of the lyrics made it memorable to me:

Les petits enfants qui tombent du balcon
Toute leur enfance défile dans leurs yeux
Elle est courte et ils s’ennuient même un peu
Alors ils regardent ce qui se passe autour d’eux

Ils s’échappent et volent devant les fenêtres
Ils disent bonjour à tous les locataires
On les invite à venir prendre un verre
Ils disent d’accord

Mais ils ne restent qu’un instant …

A rough English translation of it:

The little children who fall from balconies
All of their childhood passes before their eyes
It is so short that they get bored
So they watch what is happening around them

They escape and fly in front of the windows
They say ‘hello’ to all of the tenants
People invite them to come in for a drink
They say ‘okay’

But they only stay for a moment …

A quick google search indicates that this is a song by Alain Bashung from his 1979 album Roulette russe. It should be pretty obvious how closely the story follows the lyrics of the song. The only real challenge was to think of a scenario in which the surreal image of a baby falling from a balcony and having an adventure would be plausible. I’m not entirely happy with the story and I had a difficult time getting the language and tone right. But there you have it, my first and so far only published science fiction story. And yes, writing SF is hard. It’s not something I’m in a hurry to do again.

Probably at least a few of my fellow participants in the workshop succeeded in winning fame and fortune through their writing. It was with a wry smile that many years after the workshop shut down, I spotted a copy of Cecilia Dart-Thornton’s Bitterbynde novels in a bookstore.

2 thoughts on “Baby’s First Fall”

  1. I have 2 questions regarding the short story:
    1,Are you inspired by “Alice in the wonderland”, the scene of Alice falling into the hole?
    2,Why do you choose to let Baby meet the little boy & the lady? Any particular meaning for these 2 meetings?

    In my opinion,resting in the arms of Auntie Rosie as the ending of the fall is very good, like waking up from a dream.

  2. 1. No.
    2. The meetings serve to accentuate the surreality of the experience.
    3. No, if it ended there then it would just be a weird experience without any explanation of what actually happened. It would not be a science fiction story. The whole idea of the story is to create a surreal and seemingly irrational scenario, but at the end explain what is happening so that what seems surreal is actually very reasonable and routine for their particular society.

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