Friday 18 November 2011

He who hesitates gets out-gunned by Paolo

However many years ago that it was now, lets go with six, I started a book based on a title I liked the sound of. I didn’t get close to finishing the book, and I put it aside when I hit a wall concerning my knowledge of biology. Instead of reading up and finishing the book, I put it aside.

Early this year I picked up a copy of Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl and it is a good book to have picked up, and I did so on the presence of the elephant and the zeppelin on the cover. I defied the proverb and I was rewarded. It is a great book.

These two incidents are united by one thing. At the very core of Paolo’s book was a book very similar to the book I never finished. I will clarify by saying that Paolo’s book has a better plot, more interesting and three-dimensional characters and a stronger conveyance of the themes and ideas that the two share.

I have recently bumped that long abandoned book back up into my priority list after a recent splurge of activity on it while held up in hotel rooms in India during the rainy season. I am not particularly concerned about the similarities any more. There are likely to be some. I’ve ditched some of the more striking family resemblances, but the story is different and the characters are from another world.

The relationship between the two works will be like that between Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Asimov’s The Caves of Steel, perhaps even less so. If Windup is Caves, then my book is another sci-fi detective mystery with robots that are easily mistaken for humans, which is far less well known than DADoES.

If I one day finish this book and get it to print, it will be completed and published in the shadow of The Windup Girl.

The moral here being that if you have an idea for a story, don’t stop! The alternative is that someone better will do a better job first.

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