§ November 19th, 2004 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

I have here in front of me a photocopied preview of the forthcoming AiT/Planetlar release Proof of Concept. It’s an anthology of short science fiction and/or fantasy/horror stories, all written by publisher Larry Young, and illustrated by several different artists. The stories run from the amusing (kids find a spatial anomaly in their backyard) to the compelling (a crew of time-travelers must pursue their insane former captain through time and space) to the downright bizarre (a future world populated entirely by clones of Abraham Lincoln). There are a variety of art styles at work here, ranging from Steven Sanders and Jeff Johns’ cartoony style in “Zombie Dinosaur,” to the rough-hewn, but still appealing, art of Paul Tucker in “The Camera.” All the artists are nicely matched to the mixture of tones Young presents in his stories.

Aside from being a collection of entertaining stories, Proof of Concept has an additional purpose: showing just how to sell a story to a reader and/or publisher. Don’t just go on and on describing every nuance of your new, terrific, and completely original idea: give us a hook, like, say, “zombie dinosaurs!” There you go; what’s more high concept than that? However, instead of explaining how to sell your idea (as Young had done previously in the excellent True Facts), he shows you, complete with interstitial sequences (illustrated by Kieron Dwyer) featuring Young pitching his various ideas to a friend over the phone. Each discussion begins with Young setting out the hook (“Anne Rice meets The Fugitive“), spends the next couple of panels adding details to the hook, and then following up the interstitial with the hook in action as one of the anthology’s stories. It’s a clever gimmick, and drives home the importance of having a direction to your story…all the pretty art and clever dialogue in the world can’t save your script unless there’s a strong idea at the core.

My only minor complaint about the book is that the stories are mostly just excerpts from longer works…once you really get into the story, it abruptly ends and goes on to the next. (The only story that appears in its entirety is “The Bod,” a previously-published work by Young and John Heebink.) It’s a whole lot of set-ups, and not a whole lot of payoffs. Ultimately, though, that really doesn’t count as a complaint, since it supports Young’s point that stories with a strong (or, at the very least, catchy) ideas will grab your attention and not let go. As it is, this is still one heck of a sampler book, and I wouldn’t mind seeing any of these stories in a fuller format. It’s entertaining and it’s educational, and a must-read for any aspiring writers, particularly those interested in the adventure genre. Keep an eye out for it in December.

EDIT: Pal Dorian has his own review…we’re twinsies!

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