The Great Unfinished American Novel

It’s probably none of these, a list of books I’ve abandoned at various stages over the years:

Prophet Retief
A pastiche of science fiction writer Keith Laumer‘s popular character, Jame Retief, the intergalactic diplomat. Retief is sent to a planet of sentient flora to prevent their exploitation by Terra’s constant pain-in-the-ass competitors, the Groaci. Through a series of misadventures, Retief becomes a holy man … holy *plant* … to the race of intelligent vegetables, negotiates mining rights for Terra, chases the manipulative Groaci off-planet, and makes the natives staggeringly wealthy. My first attempt at a novel, written (and abandoned) at the tender age of 18.

A cyberspace dystopia, in which a plague has killed off 90 percent of the population. The survivors either live a savage, hand-to-mouth existence in the wilderness, battle each other for scraps on the edge of former cities, or live in arcologies, of which there are barely two dozen scattered around the world. The arcology where most of this book’s story takes place is located in the midwest, on the banks of the formerly great Mississippi River. The city-arcology is ruled by the Central Gestalt, an artificial intelligence that exists as a cybernetic amalgamation of human minds imprinted on silicon chips. Frequently, the chips burn out, so the city sends rover-gangs to brainwipe the homeless thousands living in squalor just outside the arcology’s gates. It’s schlocky science meets 1984 meets Neuromancer, and it’s better off dead. I tried to briefly revive it for a NaNoWriMo challenge, but there’s no life left in the corpse.

Dragon the Line
A punny, slapstick fantasy a la Piers Anthony’s Xanth and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Our poor hapless hero, deep in the middle of a trashy Elrond Hubble pulp SF book, is dragged through his fireplace by a scaly green arm. He ends up in a world of talking, magic-wielding dragons, imprisoned humans, and a Valkyrie-warriors vs. Conan-brutes gender war. Very unfunny, too many obvious jokes, and contains a subplot stolen from a third season Star Trek episode (Original Series, natch).

An antiques dealer gets caught up in a murder mystery involving a dead Dallas socialite, a mysterious Fabergé clock, an estate sale involving license tags for cats preserved in Lucite, an unexpected fortune, and a long-lost love letter from World War I. A collaboration that’s suffered from conflicting schedules, the interruption of several life-changing situations, a distance of nearly nine hundred miles between collaborators, and two very mulish attitudes. Still have hopes of finishing and selling this one.

Maje Lumare
Maje, a middle-management drone working for SolGov, living and officing with ten thousand other office drones on a hollowed-out asteroid at a Lagrange point between Earth and the Moon. The Earth has become an over-populated, over-heated, plague-ridden ball of uselessness. The real commerce is now found in Earth orbit, on the Moon, on Mars, and in the asteroid belt. Alien races have finally made contact, at least a dozen or so, and in return for selling off bits of the solar system (Europa, Uranus, and most of Neptune, so far), we receive cures, food factories, and entertainment. One such entertainment, a fully-immersive game called BOOM, has proven popular with miners in the asteroid belt and is trying to get licensed for distribution on Earth. Distribution approval falls on Maje’s desk, and at first seems to be just another boring licensing contract. That is until he hears gossip about belt miners, those addicted to BOOM, who have dropped dead from seizures and brain tumors. The dozen or so Terrans that have contracted to work as translators and tech support for the Terran System version of the game have relocated to the game’s planet of origin, Dirt. Strangely, they’ve all gone quiet. It’s up to Maje, and a motley band of corporate drones, a trigger-happy ex-miner, and a rock-hopper pilot named Valerie, to investigate the problem and save the day. If you look at the story sideways, it’s Dilbert meets Buck Rogers kind of stuff, but it’s a mess. I still look wistfully at this one and wonder “what if?”

Wrestling with Demons
A humorous horror novel set in the world of wrestling. A bookstore owner, formerly the world heavyweight champion, comes out of retirement when his nephew is nearly killed by an up-and-coming face who seems to be turning heel with the help of demonic power. If I can goose my collaborator on this one, I’d like to return to it. (Hint, hint.)

There are ghosts in the abandoned trainyards — but what stories are they trying to tell? I still have hopes for this one, too. If only I’d do the period research necessary for it.

My Life as a Coward
Not a novel, sort of a memoir of my wimpy, cowardly life. Not to be read by anyone, really, it serves as more of a therapeutic exercise. Not much done with this one in recent years.

The Black Angel
An expansion of my independently-published short story, in which we follow the profoundly-disturbed Bobby Reith into a young adulthood in which nobody believes that the statue in the cemetery really came to life 15 years ago… I started the expansion as a NaNoWriMo challenge, but didn’t get very far.

Started last year. Barely a chapter into it, not sure where to take it.. A comedy crime novel, involving a man laid off from a job one too many times.

I’m seriously considering NaNoWriMo again this year. So which of these should I choose, or should I begin afresh? Decisions, decisions.


About Bruce Diamond

Despicably proud old man. Text-extruding asshole (thank you, John Scalzi) with a skewed vision on life, pop culture, writing and general assholiness. Not a scholar, not a gentleman, not Martin or Lewis. But still trying to make life fun and funny.
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One Response to The Great Unfinished American Novel

  1. hmmm

    Legacy, Maje Lumare, and The Black Angel are my top three picks out of all those.

    Me? NaNoWriMo intrigues me and I would love to participate in it but honestly… it scares the bejeezus outta me too. LOL I admire anyone who can actually write something for the entertainment of others!

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