The story behind the story.
Pandora's Box came to me one day when I was listening to some music. The opening scene of the first story-part, Iron Man, literally appeared full-blown in my mind. I sat down, and began typing it. As I worked on it, the characters of Lucifer, the wyrm and Mrin suddenly took on a life of their own. The next thing I knew, Mrin was spinning some incredible yarn about alien invasion. While I thought the story interesting, Lucifer and the wyrm didn't buy it. I kept typing, and soon, the rest of the story unfolded. After eighteen hours, I sat back - the story was done. Lucifer and Lucifer's Maiden had risen from Hell and... well, you can find out by reading it yourself. Anyway, I looked the story over - it looked good. I submitted it to Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, but never received a reply.
Three months later, (still not having received a reply), I awoke from a nap with a scene running around i my head. An AI - a ships's emergency system - booted up for the first time in the middle of a serious crisis. I sat down, and began typing. Over the course of the eighteen hours, the story Caesar Computatus slowly unfolded before my eyes. It was a lovely story. I went to bed, having written the first thousand years or so of their history, but thinking that, while interesting, the story's ending was rather lame. 'And they all lived happily ever after' was how it basically turned out, a thousand years after it began. I figured it was another one for the "Story Bin", nothing really important, but I thought I'd poke at it the next day and see what happened.
When I woke up the next morning and started working on it again, something strange happened. Suddenly, Caesar spotted nuclear blasts on Earth. He didn't know what it was, but I suddenly realized what had happened. The Combat Robots of the NAD, ignored by the mainstream publishers, had returned. I kept on going, and watched the ending of the story unfold. It was great.
The next parts of the story are also an interesting tale in themselves. I read the work as it stood to my wife, and she asked the inevitable question "What happens next?"
Well, I didn't know. So, I sat down to find out. I figured I was on a roll - may as well keep going. The remaining story parts unfolded over the next two days, and I realized that the book was done.
First, I had to start polishing it. Correcting details of continuity, grammar, and so on.
Then, after a few weeks, I realized I had a problem. One of the story-parts, 'The Replicants of Valhalla', didn't fit. It didn't really advance the overall story of Pandora's Box, and I realized after studying it that it wasn't really necessary to the story. Also, since part of the tale was told by a human being, it didn't fit in with the general overview of Pandora's Box - all the other stories were told from the point of view of the AI that experienced them.
I pulled it out.
After another few weeks of tinkering and polishing, Pandora's Box was finally done. I started submitting it to publishers...
And nothing happened.
Most publishers simply didn't reply. The one or two that did took months to reply (usually six but sometimes eight), and all said the same thing. "We love your story, your writing style is good, but it just doesn't suit our needs right now..."
But nothing ever came of it.
Well, that was two years ago. I polished Pandora's Box off and on over the last two years, submitting it to one publisher at a time, waiting.... waiting....
This wasn't the only book I had finished, or the only book I was sending out, of course. I have about ten novels finished at the time of this writing, and six more in the works. They were all being submitted, one at a time, to different publishers. Most of the time, I got no reply at all. When I would occasionally get a reply, it would be after waiting months... and was always "We love your work, but..."
Then, this last October 12th, I got fed up, and... Well, I thought "What's the worst that can happen? Blackball? Pfft! I'm already being ignored, and at this rate it will take me thirty or fourty years to go through the list of publishers I have." So, I submitted my best work, Pandora's Box, to every single publisher whose e-mail address I had. All at once.
Yes, this was a bad thing - I know, simultaneous submissions are a bad idea. But, I was getting kinda desperate, sorry. I'd been waiting years for someone to notice me. For example, Hardshell Word Factory has a submission of mine right now they haven't even gotten around to reading yet - and it's been over a year. Daw and Del Rey took about eight months each to reply to submissions I sent them, and they sent back a nice letter which said "Gee, we love your work, but..." I was getting very desperate. (And to any publishers who may be reading this who I later had to send a withdrawal notice to, I apologize, and hope you understand and forgive me for any annoyance I may have caused)
Well, finally one publisher responded - Ebooks. They liked it, and wanted to print it!
The book will be available January 1st of this upcoming year - check it out. You'll love it.
'But wait! Whatever happened to the Replicants of Valhalla story?'
Well, I worked on that one seperately, and it eventually grew until it was it's own book - a second novel to the series, and a story in it's own right. You can read an excerpt from it by clicking here. If you like it, e-mail my publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her you want to see the next book in the series =)
Pandora's Box will be published by Ebooks on January 1st, 2000 - I hope you enjoy it. =)
- Jim Farris