Way back in 1992, when I first conceived of becoming a professional science fiction writer, it seemed obvious that there would be important benchmarks. The first rejection from a professional editor. The first personalized rejection from a professional editor. The first sale. The first publication — book or short work. The first magazine cover….
That the very first cover would be an Analog Science Fiction & Fact cover, and that the artist doing the work would be award-winner Bob Eggleton, and that I’d get to share the cover with one of my mentors and friends, Kris Rusch, are all stupendously exciting for me. Because this is an ‘arrival’ moment. If breaking in with Writers of the Future established my capability to be a pro, getting the cover for the December 2011 issue of Analog establishes my bona fides as a pro. Dilettante no more.
Stan Schmidt, editor, is saying to the world: this is my new guy, he’s worth my time, and he’s worth your time too. That cover with my name on it is now going into the great repository of covers stretching back across Analog’s vast history.
I’d known this was going to happen since Bob Eggleton facebooked me in April to let me know he was doing the cover art for my novelette, “Ray of Light,” which was a workshop story I’d done for one of Kris Rusch’s and Dean Smith’s workshops up in Lincoln City, Oregon. I’d sold the story in March, but hadn’t dared dream of a cover until Bob let the cat out of the bag. Since then I’ve been quietly anticipating the moment I can walk into my local Barnes & Noble store, and see copies of Analog on store shelves — with my name and story displayed prominently for the world to see.
A lot of very successful and prominent authors have been in the pages of Analog, and/or seen their names grace the covers, including Kevin J. Anderson, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Lois McMaster Bujold, Orson Scott Card, Michael F. Flynn, Frank Herbert, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Robert J. Sawyer, and Vernor Vinge. Being able to count myself among these names — as an Analog Man — ranks as one of the highlights of my writing life. Perhaps one of the highlights of my life, period? These are serious names, and this is a serious magazine, and if early reviews are any indication, I’ve acquitted myself well with, “Ray of Light.”
I won’t spoil the story. Those of you with subscriptions will have a chance to read it — have had a chance to read it? — for yourselves. Everyone else is cordially invited to pay a visit to their local Barnes & Noble sometime this month and pick up a copy. The cover is a beautiful cover. And not just because it’s “my” cover. Bob’s done marvelous work — the same caliber as displayed in Juliette Wade’s magnificent cover for her story, “At Cross Purposes,” from January of this year.