by Mel Gilden
So as not to look like Jabba the Hut, I go to the gym three times a week. I've been going to the same gym for almost ten years, and in that time I've made many friends and acquaintances. You might be amazed at the quality and subject matter of the conversations that take place in the locker room. I don't think I've ever had a discussion about sports, but that may be because I personally have so little interest in the subject.
When I made two of my most recent books available on Amazon.com (if you're interested, click the Kindle Store icon on my Books Page. You can read the first chapter of each of my latest books for free. Buy something if you've a mind to.) I printed up a stack of flyers and distributed them among people at the gym. Most of my friends were at least polite enough to take one. I think one or two of my friends actually bought a book.
A man I saw often in the locker room purchased a copy of Dangerous Hardboiled Magicians, and over the period of weeks it took him to read the mystery story he gave me updates on how he was doing and whether or not he was enjoying the book.
His two comments were always the same:
1) There are words here that I do not understand. He never did tell me which words these were, but because he was a retired college professor they must have been lulus. I don't remember using words beyond the comprehension of a college professor, so I can only think they were fantasy-specific, or invented.
2) The fantasy element doesn't seem to have much to do with the story. If he was right, I had a real problem. Back in the previous century Galaxy Magazine used to run advertisements about Bat Durstan. On one side of the page Bat would rid into town on his horse, and in a parallel column he would land on an alien planet aboard his spaceship. The idea was, of course, that in the story represented by the second column the science fiction element was only window dressing and you could extract it without harming the story. The claim was that you would never see that sort of story in Galaxy.
I didn't think I had written that window-dressed sort of novel, but my reader seemed to think otherwise. Of course his review was only one opinion, but it bothered me.
Then yesterday, he announced that he had finished the book at last — despite the strange words, I guess. He told me that in the final third of the book the fantasy elements became much more important. What a relief. All in all he had enjoyed the book. I guess I can breath easy now. Which is just as well considering all the moving around I do at the gym.