New Story! “Like the Rain”

Sitting on my desk in front of me is a nifty new hard-cover anthology entitled Golden Reflections. I have a story in it entitled “Like the Rain.”

Golden Reflections is a collection of novellas riffing off Fred Saberhagen’s wonderful alternate history novel, Mask of the Sun – my particular favorite of Fred’s many novels. It’s set in a universe where – to over-simplify quite a lot – the road to conquests doesn’t go quite as easily for the Spanish as it did in our time line.

Joan Saberhagen’s introduction to the anthology tells pretty much how the anthology came to happen. Joan, her great-nephew, myself, Jim, David Weber and Sharon Rice Weber all went out to dinner one night during Bubonicon weekend in 2008. Fred had died about a year before and the topic of Fred’s works pretty naturally came up.

On thing led to another and next thing I knew, Weber, with his usual Tigger-like enthusiasm, was suggesting an anthology bound together by the Mask – a central element of the original novel. Moreover, since by modern standards Fred’s novel is pretty short, the anthology could include it as well, so readers would not need to hunt around to find the source.

Names for various contributors were batted around. There’s only one place where I’ll quibble with Joan’s official version of events. She writes, “Jane chimed in that she’d like to try her hand at a story in this world.” That’s not how I remember it at all. What I remember is Weber suggesting me and me trying to bow out… Saying that just because I happened to be there and to like the novel didn’t mean that I had to be included.

Well, autobiography is one of the most unreliable of arts…

One of the reasons I was uncertain about being a contributor is that, in the early stages of the plan, Joan kept talking about keeping the stories close to the original South American setting. I know quite a lot about history, but certainly not enough about South American historical events to want to “alternate” them.

When contracts were done and commitments were made, I was no closer to an idea. Finally, I said to Jim, “Any ideas?” Without a pause, Jim said, “What about the Pueblo Revolt of 1680?”

I thought this was a great idea. While not set in South America, the story would continue the theme of an on-going conflict between the Spanish conquistadors and the indigenous peoples of the New World. Another thing I really liked was how naturally a mask would fit into the story. The religious practices of the Southwest involve masked dancers – what are often today conflated under the Hopi word “kachina” or “katsina.”

I asked Joan if I could set the story somewhat north of South America. She said she liked the idea a lot and encouraged me to go ahead with her blessing.

So I started reading. While I knew the basics of the Revolt, I didn’t know the details with enough precision to “alternate” them. However, the more reading I did, the more excited I became. In my afterward to the story I go into some of the details. Suffice to say, the events of the Pueblo Revolt actually make more sense if one assumes high-tech future intervention than if one does not.

Then there was the fascinating and elusive figure of Po’pay, the leader of the Revolt. He is a shadowy figure, never captured by the Spanish. However, the Spanish were methodical record-keepers. From others’ mentions, a figure of substance as well as shadow comes vividly to life.

A final fun element entered into my work. Remember, I’m married to a Southwestern archeologist. I’d known Jim and I had an extensive library of materials related to the history of the Southwest, but until I started this project I don’t think I’d realized just how substantial it is.

Jim works at home a couple days a week. When he does, we share a lovely office. Here’s an account of how my research and writing evolved.

Jane (seated at her desk, speaking half to herself): “I wonder if there’s a book with Tewa names in it. Lots of these people are referred to only by title and that won’t work in a story.”

Thump!  Jane looks up from her computer to see Jim, a slight smile on his face, walking back to his own desk. The book is Elsie Clews Parson’s Social Organization of the Tewa Pueblos. This book not only helps me with the details of the Tewa people’s lives and value systems, but also contains a tidy list of male and female names.

Jane (seated at her desk, now hoping Jim will “overhear”): “These secondary sources are fine as far as they go, but I’m frustrated. I’d like to read the full statements. The authors of these more modern works often have their own agendas.”

Thump! Thump!  Jim stands proudly in front of two fat, slightly dusty volumes.

“I bought these a while back. They should contain the full depositions from the post-Revolt Spanish legal documents. They’re translated into English, of course.”

He grins and wanders over to his own desk. I grab the nearest book and start happily reading the full question and answers. In more than a few cases, the bias I had suspected in some of the contemporary accounts is confirmed. Whatever else you want to say about them, the Spanish were meticulous record-keepers – including faithfully recording material that did not show themselves in the best of lights.

From all of this comes my story “Like the Rain,” an alternate history which I hope, as well as being a good adventure tale, does credit to the actual history of the people involved.

Oh! I almost forgot… Many of the contributors to Golden Reflections (myself, Joan Saberhagen, Daniel Abraham, Robert E. Vardeman, Walter Jon Williams, and John Maddox Roberts) will be doing a signing together at Page One Books here in Albuquerque on March 5 at 2:30 pm. Hope to see some of you there!

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10 Responses to “New Story! “Like the Rain””

  1. Paul Says:

    Thump! Thump! What a great scene. Obviously you are married to the right guy. This blog perhaps should have been your afterword to the story. Well, in my copy of the book, it will be — I will print it out and put it in to mark where the story is!

  2. Ann M Nalley Says:

    Book signing! March 5th, 2:30pm! I’ll be there! So many of my favorite authors. Oooooh!!!! Why do I have to live in MARYLAND!?!?! How would you recommend finding a copy? And, of course, Great story, Jane, as as Paul comments above, very visual… You should be a writer! Sorry, everyone… feeling a little punchy today… my dual reality is taking over.

  3. heteromeles Says:

    Looks like fun! Are you just signing in Albuquerque, or are you thinking about touring elsewhere?

  4. janelindskold Says:

    The anthology Golden Reflections is a February release so it should be showing up at bookstores any time now.

    An interesting change in the publishing industry is that books used to routinely appear in stores before their release date. These days, it’s tighter. However, I’m guessing since Baen has the book done, they’re not going to be sitting on it.

    And, of course, those of you who buy your books on-line should be able to order right away.

    Right now the March 5 signing is the only one I have scheduled. If I lived in a more populated area, I’d probably go around to local conventions or something, but that option simply does not exist in the West.

    I live in the largest population center in my state. A signing in Santa Fe wouldn’t be out of the question if someone wanted to set one up. However, next best markets are in Denver and Phoenix — both a bit far to do on impulse.

    Writers in the East, especially the seaboard, have it a Lot Easier when it comes to promotional venues.

  5. wyoarmadillo Says:

    This is great,

    As I live in ABQ – I will definitely be there. Sounds like the anthology is definetly my cup of tea.

  6. janelindskold Says:

    Very nice to know folks are looking forward to the anthology. I’ve been reading the stories and enjoying them a lot!

  7. LizT Says:

    I just read a book about the 1680 Revolt at the first of the year. Non-fiction, that one, but very enlightening on a subject I knew zero about going in. I’ll definitely have to pick the anthology up and see what fun y’all have had with the topic.

  8. janelindskold Says:

    Liz…

    There are several books about the 1680 Revolt, so of which are so skewed to one side or the other as to be nearly useless.

    I wish I could find my bibliography for this project, because one book I read was particularly excellent in that the author went out of his way to try to see both side.

    Let me know and I could see if I can figure out which one it was.

    • LizT Says:

      This one was by David Roberts.

      The Pueblo Revolt: The secret rebellion that drove the spaniards out of the southwest.

  9. janelindskold Says:

    Yes. That’s the best of the ones I read.

    By the way, Page One Books is apparently offering the chance to pre-order signed copies of the anthology… Just in case you’re into that sort of thing.

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