For those keeping score, this is my first paid publication. I already did my share of bragging when the sale was announced, but I'd like to say again how pleased I am to have scratched this goal off the milestone list. Not to mention, I'm extremely proud to have my first real publication credit at the hands of RGR, a magazine that I've been enjoying as a reader for quite some time. If you like stories that hark back to the golden age of pulp science fiction, it's probably right up your alley.
Now I figured I'd post a bit of commentary on the story for those interested. If you haven't read it yet, I'd encourage you to do so before reading on, as spoilers are inbound.
On "Darkness" (spoilers ahoy) . . .
This story's backbone had been floating around in my noggin for quite some time before I actually sat down to write it. It started, like many of my stories do, with the smallest sliver of an idea. I wanted to write about the human instinctual response to darkness. As it happened, I'd just finished the first draft to a taxing fantasy story, so I was ready for some good ol' scifi when I decided to scratch that itch.
The story's concept as it originally came to me was quite different--there was no Dyson sphere. My initial idea involved an astronaut who has an accident while on an EVA mission and begins to drift away from his vehicle. I pictured a scene in which the astronaut had his back to the craft and faced total darkness, with only a small piece of debris floating in front of him reflecting the ambient light behind him. He grows uneasy as the reflective surface of the metal begins to spin away and the shining beacon leaves him.
While I loved this image, it didn't take long to realize there were some plausibility issues there. Why would there be such imposing darkness if he were so close to his craft? Why wouldn't he have a light mounted on his suit, as our astronauts do today? Why wouldn't his crew mount a rescue effort long before he started losing a grip on things? As I toyed with the idea, I eventually realized this story would work better combined with another idea of mine that I'd set aside involving a Dyson sphere, a hypothetical construct named after theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson.
The Dyson sphere concept has always fascinated me, so I leaped at the opportunity to finally toy with it a bit. Not only did it address most of my plausibility issues, but it brought an entirely different flavor of mystery and menace (and let me play with certain other concepts as well). The rotating debris became the flickering flashlight, and the original spirit of the idea--overwhelming darkness penetrating the mind of our poor astronaut--still got to reign supreme at the heart of the story.
I hope you enjoyed A Giant Mess of Darkness, and I'd love to hear what you thought of it. If you found your way here from RGR, feel free to stay a while and say hello.
And no . . . I'm not telling you if she was real or not.