An Archipelago of My Own

In less than two weeks, I’ll be releasing the new edition of The Shipwright and Other Stories with the cover designed by Zhivko Zhelev. In my new afterward for Schrödinger’s City, I described that novel as “liminal,” meaning that, even though it was written in 2015, I find aspects of my post-2017 writing in it.

A similar case can be made for the Shipwright collection. I wrote The Shipwright in 2015, shortly after finishing Schrödinger’s City. Most of the other stories followed in short order. Persistence, Vision, Focus, Simple Reason, The Measure, and Something Novel were written either late in 2015 or early in 2016. The sole story written after the 2016 election (my dividing line for when my first phase of writing became my second) was Rite of Courage, which I wrote in 2019 in the run up to Shipwright’s first publication.

The Shipwright hit me out of nowhere. Usually I have an idea that I let simmer for a while in the back of my mind, only starting in on the writing when the idea is good and ready. The Shipwright began on a whim. I was attending a writing group one weekend (one of the good ones), and I found myself drawing a map instead of writing. I remember having the thought that, “Ursula K Le Guin has an awesome archipelago fantasy world; I want an awesome archipelago fantasy world.” And so I created one. But it needed to be mine, and no a clone of Le Guin’s.

The decision to model my world on fifth century BC Greece is an interesting one. It may be tempting for some future bibliographer to glean an influence of Plato, Aristotle, etc. on The Shipwright and Other Stories, but I want it known that my reading of the ancient philosophers and playwrights came in 2017, a year after the bulk of the stories in Shipwright had already been drafted. Only Rite of Courage has a direct connection my 2017-2018 ancient literature reading phase. I had the idea for the story after reading Aeschylus’s Oresteia.

I’m very excited for this edition. The new cover is gorgeous and the interior design is probably my favorite of all the new editions. I’ll share more about that in a post next weekend.