Analog’s December issue features my second guest editorial, “The Future is Prologue.” Astute readers will recognize my reworking of Shakespeare’s line from The Tempest, “Whereof what’s past is prologue; what to come, in yours and my discharge.”
Unlike a Shakespearean play, dinosaurs have managed to tromp into my editorial. But hey, they’ve been good to me and my writing, and who am I to say no to them? I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the Dec. 2015 Analog either electronically or in print, as it has the latest work by several fine Analog regulars such as Ed Lerner, Bud Sparhawk, Kristine Kathyrn Rusch and esteemed Editor Emeritus Stanley Schmidt
When my last guest editorial was published in the July/August 2015 issue of Analog, I got several questions, which I’ll answer here.
1. How did you come to write a guest editorial? My thanks go to Trevor Quachri for suggesting that I try my hand at writing this guest editorial. It concerns the refinement of scientific hypotheses over time. As a one-time archaeologist, I’ve always been fascinated by the ways in which scientific thought ebbs and flows over the decades,
2. How is writing an editorial similar to writing fiction? I see several similarities. Everything begins with an idea that caught my interest and which I suspect may intrigue readers, too. Next comes the search for specific incidents to propel the editorial or story forward. In addition, both forms of writing benefit from an opening hook, rely on compelling prose to keep the reader turning the pages, and must have a central theme.
3. How does writing an editorial differ from writing a story? Two ways. First, an editorial can be more didactic, as readers are expecting the writer to put forth a set of viewpoints accompanied by cogent reasoning. In contrast, when reading fiction, people don’t want to be subjected to a sermon, which they’ll skip over to get to the “good stuff.” Or they might abandon the story entirely and hunt up something more interesting. Second, editorials are subject to a pretty strict word count. The writer must select a topic that can be addressed well in 1800 to 2200 words. In contrast, short fiction will vary from under 1000 words to 20,000 words or more.
4. Can your readers expect to see more guest editorials instead of stories? I hope the answer isn’t either/or. I have fun w both. In fact, my next appearance in Analog will be a novelette featuring several characters my readers have seen before plus some new ones to keep things interesting.