Home > My Fiction > “Aleyara’s Descent” into ANALOG

“Aleyara’s Descent” into ANALOG

I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I got a novelette accepted on the morning before Shore Leave began. I’ve just signed the contract, so it’s time to announce more widely what I already told the convention audience.

“Aleyara’s Descent” will be my thirteenth story published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and my first since “Conventional Powers” in the Sept/Oct 2019 issue. At 15,800 words (in the unrevised draft), it’s the longest piece of non-Star Trek short fiction I’ve ever sold. (The previous record-holder was also an Analog story, “Hubstitute Creatures” at 14,200.)

It’s also pretty unusual for me. Though the story technically takes place in my Arachne-Troubleshooter Universe, it stands effectively alone, since it’s set entirely in the distant past of an alien planet. Basically it’s historical fiction, just not about human history. The story is an adventure quest set in the preindustrial era of the Biaru, a colorful species with a rich mythology and spiritual life, so it has the feel of high fantasy even though it’s a work of hard science fiction. It’s a deep dive into a whole alien world — its people, its biology, its customs and beliefs and stories. It’s my first published story with no human characters (although my Patreon story “Growth Industry” has no speaking human characters). I’m eager to say more, but I don’t want to spoil it.

The Biaru are one of my favorite species that I’ve ever created, and I’ve written multiple stories about them (though this is the only one set before their contact with humans), but it’s taken me decades to finally get them into print. “Aleyara’s Descent,” my thirteenth Analog story, was actually written just months after my first Analog story, “Aggravated Vehicular Genocide,” way back in 1997. After my initial failed attempts to sell it, I convinced myself there weren’t enough markets for a story of its length, and I decided that I’d incorporate it into a novel instead, with some reworking of its ending. (I did not submit it to Analog at the time, perhaps because I felt it was too fantasy-like for a hard-SF magazine. I wonder now what might have happened if I hadn’t talked myself out of trying it there.) As my career took another direction and my original novel plans remained mostly unrealized, the story gathered dust on my shelf.

But recently, I’ve been too busy with audio novels to write new short stories, and I realized that I needed to get something out there on the market. So I took another look at “Aleyara” and decided it was worth submitting as it was, even if that required adjusting my novel plans later on. I had to stop letting my tentative plans for the future prevent me from using what assets I had in the present. I sent it to Analog first out of tradition, basically, but I figured it was a long shot. I was quite pleasantly surprised when I got editor Trevor Quachri’s acceptance e-mail.

So it’s taken me fully 25 years, but I finally get to tell the epic tale of “Aleyara’s Descent.” I hope it will open the door to telling more stories about the Biaru going forward.

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  1. January 11, 2023 at 6:29 pm

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