Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"End Time" by Scott Emerson Bull

As with most of my stories, there was no great dramatic event or lightbulb moment that triggered the idea for "End Time." It was simply the urgent need to fill the maddening blank page with words and sentences. The only inspiration was perhaps the heat. I was on vacation in Orlando with my family, and I had been making a habit of waking up before everyone else so I could steal a bit of writing time down by the pool. Even though it was March, it was hot as blazes. As I began to click-clack away on my laptop, I realized I was sitting in a natural setting for a story. Throw in some thoughts from an article I'd read about global warming, the spectre of 9/11 (it was 2002 and I was still looking up whenever I heard the scream of a jetliner), and that old staple "good vs. evil," and I soon had a story, although it was almost a year before the original draft was finished.

I sent it out with high hopes, and after some early encouragement (a personal rejection from Gardner Dozois, who was at that time editor for Asimov's, and some kind words from Ellen Datlow) the story went nowhere.

Fast-forward to August 2005 and Hurricane Katrina. I was preparing to submit again after another rejection when I realized that my story had now been eclipsed by current events. In the original draft, New Orleans was only just being threatened by the rising ocean levels brought on by global warming. It had never actually found itself under water. Katrina changed all that. Now a serious calamity had hit the city, one that every potential reader of the story would know everything about and wonder why I was so clueless. Dreading a rewrite, I tossed the story into the metaphorical drawer and instead wrote a check to Clinton and Bush's relief fund.

But like most restless children, it refused to be ignored. Eventually I opened the drawer and saw that the story needed more than just a Katrina inspired rewrite. The result now appears in IGMS (after a suggested tweak by Mr. Schubert - thank you very much), thankfully before any more natural catastrophes render it obsolete....

(artwork for this story (in the current issue of IGMS) by Dean Spencer: (Scott's website:

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