How did this story come about?
Sometimes I have an answer to that question, sometimes I don’t, and sometimes I have an answer and find that it cannot be shared. This alas falls into the third category. I find that this story, which I’ve attempted and failed and attacked again for nigh unto twenty years, only to conquer it upon this last assault, is a thing with a provenance I can share with friends, but, for reasons of taste, not with the world at large, not now at any rate. It will have to stand for itself.
I can say this much. I have long used as a story generation tool the personal premise of “secret sequels,” tales that take place in the worlds of various stories by others, all important to me, but not belonging to me. I use the original as jumping-off point, then file off the serial numbers, secure that what I’ve brought to the canvas is sufficient to justify the tale as entirely mine, without being slavish carbon copy. It is a function of asking the question, “What would happen next?”
Non-writers might say that this is plagiarism. No, it is not. It is feedback, the same phenomenon that might lead one writer to wonder what the sweet young girl who comes of age in the story of another might be like if everything went wrong and she was left bitter and disappointed atw fifty. There might be no dead giveaway in the second story about its origins in the first. It exists as such only in the heart of the creator.
This tale is, as far as I’m concerned, a secret sequel to a certain classic work of science fiction, and it was always my intent on writing it that when it was released into the world, I would be open about which one. This proves untenable by circumstance. So consider it an editorial reply, but it is doomed to stand for itself.
When I read “orgynism” in the first line, I thought it signaled the whole of the story, but the expected “gyn” element never appeared. What’s behind that word then?
You have tracked the coinage to the wrong root. You are focusing on “gyn” and looking for the female element. The root word is not that but “orgy,” making an “orgynism” a permanent group rut fused into a single colony being. The kind of thing people would try in a world of exhausted surfeit.
Each fascinating self-contained scene of weirdness seems to stand alone, but were there subtexts? A thread that connected them to the whole?
They are the different forms of distraction to be found in a world where everybody had experienced everything.
When I reflected on the story arc and how it ended, it felt almost like the story of an amiable nihilist in the end days. What was it about for you?
It would be unfair to nihilists to call this guy a nihilist. He doesn’t stand for even that much. (This is a world where you can say, “Say what you will about nihilism, Dude . . . at least it’s an ethos.”) He’s just a guy looking for a new flavor in the end times, when there’s nothing left to do and all the forms of amusement have palled.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know about this story?
About the story, I think I’ve said all I can say—not all there is to say, but all I can say—above. I will, however, say something about the enterprise which hosts it. It has been an honor to be such a heavy contributor over the years, a pleasure to read so many of the great stories that have appeared here, and both my hope and my ambition that the best is yet to come.
Spread the word!