Monday, November 24, 2008

"The Fort in Vermont" - by David Simons

During a work lunch some time ago, my co-workers and I were discussing the true value of wealth. No, this was not some sappy discussion of happiness versus bank accounts, family time versus promotions. We're lawyers. Rather, we were discussing what types of wealth would be most secure in the future.

Being the sole science fiction reader in the group, I suggested that if the proverbial subpoena ever hit the fan, bank accounts and stocks would become worthless, and the truly wealthy man would be the one who owned fenced land, canned goods, guns, and solar panels.

So I began constructing a story around a wealthy man who did plan for societal collapse--indeed, obsessed over it--diversifying accordingly. I gave him a past and a family, and decided to tell the story from the perspective of his teenage daughter, Rachel.

As I began writing though, it became Rachel's story. The father became less interesting to me than Rachel's own struggle to understand the risk of loss. So I went with that, and let the story take the tragic turns it needed to take.

For those interested in process, I wrote the first draft during a Clarion West workshop a couple years ago. I got some helpful feedback from classmates and that week's instructor (Nalo Hopkinson), and went through several revisions before reaching the version that Edmund bought. The biggest changes were switching from epistolary (journal) format to present tense, and eliminating several minor characters. Like most successful revisions, the story got shorter.

Thanks to all who read The Fort in Vermont. I'll have another (much lighter) story in IGMS sometime next year.


David's story, "The Fort In Vermont," is in issue 10 of Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show, available now.

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