TEXAS AND OTHER PLANETS by Lou Antonelli, 2010, Merry Blacksmith Press
This is the 55th in my series of Forgotten Books.
This is not so much a Forgotten Book as a totally ignored book. Lou Antonelli is a transplanted Yankee of Italian descent. He moved to Texas a long time ago and married a Texas girl. I believe, if I recall Texas law correctly, that makes him a naturalized Texas citizen. He still talks and looks like a Yankee. That cannot be helped. But, he writes like a demon. I’m not sure if it is a heavenly or hellish demon. I just wish I did it as often and as well.
TEXAS AND OTHERPLANETS is Lou’s second collection, following FANTASTIC TEXAS (2009). It contains 20 short stories, half of which received Recommended Reading status in Gardner Dozois’ annual YEARS BEST SF. And, after reading all this collection, let me state, that those honors were earned through hard work and tough writing.
Lou began his writing career as a journalist and did not have his first short story published until 2003, and that was online at RevoultionSF.com, a spot that published several of my pieces along the way.
But, that’s enough about Lou, let’s talk about the stories. The collection opens with my favorite “A Rocket For the Republic” which discusses in great detail the history of the Texas space exploration program. It holds the distinction of being the last story purchased by Dozois for ASIMOV’S before he retired. It’s very good, a solid hook and clear voice that grabs you in. The second story is “A Djinn for General Houston”. All about a guy with a magic lamp and the War for Texas Independence. Do you sense a theme here? Two stories with strong ties to Texas. Check out the title of the book. They all have ties.
Texas is as much a character in these stories as it is a part of the nature of all who live here. I cannot write with conviction about New York or Boston, but I can do it about San Antonio and Dallas. Lou Antonelli has those same convictions. He does not beat you over the head with it. The nature of the state and the people are just there. Tangible and alive. Read “Dispatches From the Troubles” about the formation of the American Irish Republic headed by John Kennedy in Londonderry (Harlingen) or “Rome, If You Want To” which features a scenic tour of Dallas or “Good News For the Dead”, an interesting zombie story (a rare thing in my opinion) or “The Silver Dollar Saucer” where two owlhoots find themselves shanghaied on a flying saucer and taken to the other side of the universe.
Each story has an introduction by Lou with some history of how it came about. I found these quite fascinating too. Jayme Blaschke (a good friend of this blog) was the editor at RevolutionSF when Lou first started writing and he provides a thoughtful introduction. I did not find a clunker in the bunch, and that is another rare occurrence. Check it out and visit Texas and Lou. You’ll like the trip.
The book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble (but not Borders) and ABE. No copies on eBay as I write this. So I believe it to be generally available and well worth your time. You’ll see a newish writer breaking out, stretching his wings and showing his imagination. What more could you want?
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.