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Mark Bukovec
Posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007 - 04:11 pm:   

Hey Lucius. Enjoyed the novella in the last F&SF. Having grown up as part of the "desperate wannabe counter-culture of the western Pennsylvania barrens", I was wondering if the Crucible had been inspired the Foundry. It had once been a working foundry in Pittsburgh turned into a place for indie bands to play. No effort had been put into remodeling it (most notably the lack of heating), and it still had a crucible hanging from the ceiling. This was for a brief year or two in the late 80s.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, May 25, 2007 - 05:35 am:   

Glad you liked it, Mark. My experience of Pittsburgh consists of a brief layover on a Grayhound during winter in the early 80's, long enough to grab a beer in a nearby bar, so no is the answer, although I have spent time in the nether regions of western PA. I dated a girl from around there, and got to know the region, so a place like the Foundary is pretty easy to imagine...but no heat...uh. That must have been brutal.
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Frances Grimble
Posted on Friday, May 25, 2007 - 11:05 am:   

I wrote Lucius Shepard an email which I sent via the Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine website. Gordon Van Gelder promised to forward it, but he also directed me to this discussion.

Iím only partway through the novellaówhich is much funnier than anything by Mr. Shepard than Iíve read beforeóand I just HAVE to know which particular one of the string of Western Pennsylvania coal and steel towns inspired that setting. Canít be my old home town of Finleyville, the Center of the Whiskey Rebellion. Thatís not a company-built brick town. I am rather thinking several towns, possibly those in other Eastern states, were conflated. Western PA, despite its historic background (see above; also the Revolutionary War and the Underground Railroad), and despite the fact that my grade school has been turned into a National Historic Site, doesnít get much tourist trade. It is very scarce on bronze statues of heroes (well, maybe in Pittsburgh, the Big City), unless I missed them all. And Mr. Shepard has entirely failed to mention, so far, that the local library is a Carnegie Library.

The timing is also odd. It seems to be fairly recentóreferences to Goths and so onóand yet, the steel mills have been non-operative for a long while. When I was in high school, being counterculture consisted of wearing blue jeansóand being insulted by strangers on the street for it, even in downtown Pittsburgh. The ultimate goal was to move to San Francisco or Berkeley, and I did exactly that as soon as I got old enough. But be fair on those unfortunates who stuck around. Being counterculture in Western PA is really tough. You have to constantly fight everyone around you if you do things (like wear clothes that donít look precisely like every other womanís) that are perfectly ordinary in California.

Frances Grimble
http://www.lavoltapress.com
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, May 25, 2007 - 12:25 pm:   

Hi, Frances...Sorry to delay answering, but I'm away from home, doing a magazine assignment, and my online time is limited.

Black William is a composite of towns, a fictional place. I've spent time in Western PA, but that was 20-25 years ago, and so I addressed myself to that era, though I did not specify it. I thought of the time as the 80s, a period when there were, I believe, quite a few steel mills remaining. It was also a period when when the indie record industry, Goth culture, etc, were flourishing. I've found that even in the most conservative small towns in the Rust Belt, in several of which I have lived, there were always one or two or more outsider kids who, despite harassment, affected punk or Goth dress and attitudes. I didn't think it beyond the pale to place one such in Black William. And I also found that having a successful business in those places, even if it is considered somewhat unrespectable, overcomes many barriers and allows one to be accepted...as is the case with Vernon.

I decided to leave the time unspecified after learning that the steel industry still persisted in 2007, employing nearly 200,000 Pennsylvanians, and I imagined one such mill specializing in custom or recycled steel might exist in Black William--so Stars Seen Through Stone is a story that, in my mind, could have taken place at any point during the last 17 or 18 years. But if you want to know what I was thinking when I started the story, I was thinking 1989.

Thanks for your interest,

Lucius
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Frances Grimble
Posted on Friday, May 25, 2007 - 01:06 pm:   

Well, I love the story. Next, perhaps you'll tackle Tolkien's lost labor union novel.

Fran
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, May 25, 2007 - 01:19 pm:   

Thanks, Fran.

As for labor union orcs and hobbits...I might lose my mind, so you never know... :-)
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Frances Grimble
Posted on Friday, May 25, 2007 - 03:34 pm:   

OK, well, I'll give it a shot:

The Escape Tunnel: A Lost Episode
Tensions mounted in the little band as Aragon insisted on assuming a strictly supervisory role; Gandalf pointed out that he was beyond retirement age and therefore disqualified for physical labor; Legolas argued that digging was not among the job descriptions for the Foresterís Union; Samwise said members of the Helperís Union only held tools, and did not wield them; Frodo refused to wear that silly orange hat; and Gimli, though he admitted that the Minerís Union Regulations required one guy to dig a tunnel through a mountain (or out of a prison) while five other guys stood around, didnít see why he invariably had to be that guy.

Fran
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, May 27, 2007 - 07:29 pm:   

I would actually have preferred if Tolkien had written that.
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Breity
New member
Username: Breity

Post Number: 7
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Saturday, March 29, 2008 - 02:28 pm:   

Hello Lucius,

I finally read this story today, and I have to say it was one of those super-rare stories where I just never wanted it to end. I had so enjoyed being with those characters and getting to know them that I probably could have read another fifty pages of them just drinking Iron City around the fishing hole. I loved every minute reading it. Thank you for that. :-)


Best,

Andrew Breitenbach
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Lucius
Moderator
Username: Lucius

Post Number: 7177
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 29, 2008 - 10:32 pm:   

Thanks, Andrew....I'm glad you dug it.
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Jwk
Junior Member
Username: Jwk

Post Number: 305
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Saturday, April 05, 2008 - 12:02 am:   

Congrats on the Nebula nomination for the story! I sure enjoyed it when I read it in F&SF.
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Lucius
Moderator
Username: Lucius

Post Number: 7202
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Sunday, April 06, 2008 - 04:12 pm:   

THANKS, JK...little bit of my rock history is in that story. i was in a band with "Stanky' and he was much worse than i depected him.

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