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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Peter F Hamilton on Authors & Mutant Worms

A robot dog gazes across the Thames
at prestigious Chelsea

This blog entry continues from Monday's entry "Peter F Hamilton on Elves & Illegal Cloning."

Although his scheduled time had expired, and he had fulfilled his commitment to the World Fantasy Convention, author Peter F Hamilton returned to the table where he had sat before his reading. At first, he seemed confused as to how to proceed, and offered one of us a copy of the manuscript to pass around. Thankfully, after a little encouragement, he kindly finished the story he had begun toward the end of his scheduled reading.

In "The Return of the Mutant Worms," Peter F Hamilton introduces us to a writer who lives in a portion of London called Chelsea, in a plush flat along the Thames River. This author has labored hard over the years to build up a strong, popular mainstream following, and regards the novel he's just finished as the pinnacle of his career. So when he receives a package in the mail, he tears into it, eagerly anticipating the contract for his forthcoming book.  Instead, he finds a publication contract for a short story titled "Mutant Worms" that he wrote twenty-one years ago. The publication of this story can only detract from his upcoming publicity tour, as mainstream readers will wonder how the writer they associate with such sophisticated and polished literary fiction once wrote a crass genre story about mutant worms having sex with Human females.

The author phones his former publisher, and explains there must be some mistake. The publisher informs the writer that he's made no mistake. Although he thought the story terrible twenty-one years ago, he paid the author a nominal sum for it, then locked it away. Yes, he understands that the publication of "Mutant Worms" might offend and appall the cultured sensitivities of the author's present readership. Yes, he knows that even hearing about this story might discourage readers from buying his new book, or indeed, any novels he might write in the future. So what? He decided to purchase the story as an investment twenty-one years ago. Now it's time to collect the dividends. 

But hey, he's a big-time author now, right? Shouldn't he be willing to share some of his wealth with his former publisher, who helped him in the formative phase of his career? No, he has no interest in selling the story back, for any amount of money. Still, he could be persuaded, for the right price, to not publish it. At least, not right now... 



I smiled and laughed along with my fellow readers as Hamilton read "The Return of the Mutant Worms." I suspect most of them noticed how the fictional writer's story gently mocked Hamilton's extraordinary storytelling achievement of The Night's Dawn trilogy. If my summary of the story has piqued your interest, you can find it in Solaris Rising, an anthology edited by Ian Whates. Along with Hamilton's delightful story, you'll also discover stories by other big name Science Fiction authors. I'm glad that I got to hear Hamilton read his story, and thankful that he was willing (and circumstances allowed him) to finish it. 

Dragon Dave

Related Dragon Cache entries
An introduction to Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn trilogy

1 comment:

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