Friday, August 13, 2021

How could I have missed this!?!

On  July 1, 1991, Warner Book published Probe -- my first novel. 

Original/1991 edition
The 30th anniversary of this career milestone came and went six weeks ago, and I just -- this morning -- realized it. That's madness. Or a senior moment. Maybe both. Regardless, having finally remembered the occasion, I'm going to reminisce a bit. 

(What's the book about? I'll get to that. But nostalgia first -- unless you choose to jump ahead. Which is fine.)

Seeing the novel out the door became quite the adventure. This was in an era before doorstop books, and the acquiring editor wanted my manuscript reduced from 90K words to 75K. Ouch, but ... done. Then he decided my title (Calculating Minds) was too cryptic and pushed for the yet more cryptic Chimera. Then the art department complained -- fairly enough -- they didn't know what cover art went with Chimera, and we wound up with the apt but generic title of Probe. Not that final art for the Warner edition even showed a space probe ...

Second/2000 edition
Beyond being the pre-doorstop-book era, the early Nineties was an epoch of turmoil in publishing. My acquiring editor, champion of the book, left Warner. And his replacement. And his. All before the book was through the editorial process and release to booksellers. Exciting? You bet! Helpful? Not!

Then, to the utter confusion of booksellers and readers alike, the same day my novel came out, a Star Trek-franchise novel of the same name was also released. 

But for all the pain along the way (and, to be fair, education about how the publication world works)? Much good came of it.

To begin, pro sale of a novel qualified me to join the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (aka, SFWA). This is the collegial association of genre authors -- and a community within which I've made many good friends.

Third/2011 edition
Second, given that I was still working fulltime-plus in high tech, Probe's publication encouraged me to keep writing -- which regular visitors to SF and Nonsense  know is what happened. (Are you new here? Welcome! -- and notice that the right-hand column shows covers for all my books. Click on any cover for a bit about that book.) 

And so, this anniversary year of my first book saw publication of my 21st and 22nd books (respectively the collection The Sherlock Chronicles & The Paradise Quartet and the novel Déjà Doomed.) These latest books, as it happens, share some thematic continuity with -- while being plot-wise unrelated to -- Probe. Since mid-2004, I've written fulltime.

Moreover, Probe continued/continues to sell; it's now with its fourth publisher :-) Covers for all four editions are included in this post for your enjoyment, enticement, and/or mystification.

Then there are new formats. Beyond print, Probe is now also an ebook (well, ebooks -- lots of popular formats). An audiobook. At one point, there was even an edition in Hebrew.

Current/2020 edition
And last -- but certainly not least, I hear steadily from readers. A week ago, a reader messaged on FaceBook to say he'd just read Probe for the fourth time. What greater compliment could be paid an author ?

Do you sense I'm enjoying, however belatedly, the moment?

So what's Probe about? Here's what the current cover has to say:

What if First Contact doesn't come the way we expect it -- or with the sort of aliens we expect? When both sides have secrets within secrets to keep, how is anyone supposed to know the truth -- or live long enough to tell it? Will it turn out to be the greatest discovery of all time... or the biggest hoax?

Bob Hanson, the chief scientist of a major aerospace corporation, has made an incredible discovery: a wrecked alien spacecraft adrift in the Asteroid Belt. The evidence is compelling -- video images from the Prospector space probe he himself had created. The military enthusiastically embraces an investigation of the extraterrestrials, remarkably indifferent to the inconsistencies that begin to appear.

Undeterred, Hanson keeps digging... and finds much more than he had ever bargained for. Soon on the lam, he, and everyone to whom he turns, is hunted. Before long only one conclusion remains unassailable -- that his mysterious opponents play for keeps. Are aliens manipulating events on Earth? Did unscrupulous corporate executives invent the aliens in search of giga-buck government contracts? Has the Pentagon fabricated an alien menace for its own purposes?

Or is the truth something really unimaginable?

If I've piqued your interest, here are the Amazon links for Probe in its current print, ebook (Kindle -- though elsewhere you get the book in other formats), and audio (Audible) editions. 

Nostalgia indulged, I'm back to work on book twenty-three.

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