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Interview: Michael Alexander on “Ware of the Worlds”

-Tell us a bit about “Ware of the Worlds.”  What’s it about?

Thousands of large, mysterious cylinders land all over the earth. They
have the ability to grant the wish of anyone who is nearby.  People being
people, the trend is generally downhill.

It’s a comedy.
-What’s the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?
I had reread Wells’ War of the Worlds maybe a month before and was sitting
at the keyboard early one morning,  just bopping around and hoping for a
bit of inspiration.

I wondered idly what would happen if, instead of aliens landing and doing
horrible things to the human race they landed and did wonderful things for
it. Given my read on humans I figured it would turn out about the same.

The title can be taken as “(Be)Ware of the Worlds” or “Goods of the
Worlds,” I suppose.

-Did the writing of this story present you with any significant challenges

(i.e., was it particularly difficult to write?)
The ending. This was a one-sitting story that assembled itself in my head
and I just had to type very quickly to keep up. The difficulty was that I
didn’t have a big climax handy. I got to the place near the end with the idea there was a sort of
free-for-all war. Unsatisfying.  Then Mr. Subconscious suggested the idea
of peace breaking out instead and it fell into place.

There was also a problem with keeping it spare. After the first draft I
went back and took out every hint of explanation I had dropped in. No
slowing down, the story works best when read in a single breath.
-What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I had to check the proper designation number and packaging for Claymore
mines. I’ve learned very quickly that people notice things like that, much
more than a nicely turned phrase or beautiful image. Did you know that you
can set them up with an independent pressure trigger OR a remote relay?
-What are you working on now?

I have four or five short stories in various stages of disrepair. I’m also
pecking at a novella/novel about a lost interstellar colony.
-Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m just beginning to learn the craft. Up until now storytelling has been
pretty much luck on my part. I attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop
last summer (plug) and found it to be most valuable in learning more about
story mechanics. I also got to know a bunch of strange and talented people
whom I now consider friends.

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