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.