I wish I could claim I’ve been busy over the past few months, but while I’ve certainly been doing stuff it doesn’t feel like I’ve managed to get as much done as I really should have done. I’m still trying to get the stories for Aphrodite Terra edited, I’ve been working on a couple of solicited short stories, I’ve been trying to stay on top of my book review obligations… and I’ve been reading books as research for Apollo Quartet 4 All That Outer Space Allows. I’m currently working my way through Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden – these are both “deep” background reading – and I’ve already read books on the wives of the astronauts, like Lily Koppel’s The Astronaut Wives Club and Mary Irwin’s The Moon is Not Enough, not to mention books about female science fiction writers, such as Judith Merril’s autobiography Better to Have Loved, or Julie Phillips’ James Tiptree Jr: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon. I’ve also been reading plenty of suitable short science fiction – eg, Josephine Saxton’s ‘The Triumphant Head’ (1970), Pamela Zoline’s ‘The Heat Death of the Universe’ (1967), Eleanor Arnason’s ‘The Warlords of Saturn’s Moons’ (1974), and even Lisa Tuttle’s ‘Wives’ (1979)…
While all this is going on, I’ve been thinking hard about the story of All That Outer Space Allows. The plot has been pretty much set for a while, but I’ve now decided on a structure – which will, of course, be something different to the other three books of the quartet – and I’ve both written the start and plotted out the end. But that “mid-2014” publication date, as printed in earlier books of the quartet, and my original intention to perhaps launch the book at Loncon 3… well, that’s not going to happen. It seems the summer is not a productive season for me – something I should have realised by now. All That Outer Space Allows should appear before the end of the year, but I’m loath to make promises. It’s certainly my plan to have the final book of the Apollo Quartet available for purchase before Christmas, early enough in advance that people can order it and receive their copies before the entire Western world shuts down for its annual consumerist festival.
For the time-being, I can reveal that the book is about Virginia Grace Eckhardt (née Parker), who is married to USAF test pilot Walden Jefferson Eckhardt. The story opens in 1965, when Eckhardt is selected for 1966’s Group 5 of NASA astronauts, and continues through to the launch of Apollo 15 in 1971. Ginny Parker is a science fiction writer (for the record, she’s named for my three favourite 1950s actresses), and it’s the juxtaposition between science fiction and real world space exploration that will drive the story. All That Outer Space Allows – I get to watch my favourite film, All That Heaven Allows, again and, er, again, so yay – will be the longest of the novellas in the quartet, perhaps even a short novel. It will also be the least science-fictional of the quartet. But you knew that was going to happen, right?
Meanwhile, those of you desperate for a fix of my fiction, there’s my story ‘Waters of Lethe’ in June’s issue of Perihelion SF, I’m also providing the title story in the next issue of Postscripts, Postscript #32/33 Far Voyager, and there’s yet another story in an upcoming anthology from Tickety Boo Press, Space: Houston We Have A Problem. There are also a couple of things happening which I shall announce once I’m certain of the details. Keep your eye on both here and my own blog at iansales.com.