Sunday, July 30, 2006

Calories and the Novel

Posted by Trent Walters at 10:30 PM
When we last abandoned our panel heroes, George Zebrowski had asked Paolo Bacigalupi how “The Calorie Man” had come about, from creation to finish.

PB: It began in Bangkok with a fat white man who had just walked out of a girlie bar. (was “The Wind-Up Girl”). But kept getting energy-based thoughts--peak oil. I’m not sure I believe we have enough oil and coal for future. Read Hubbard’s peak. What if we didn’t have any? An economy not based on fossil fuels at all. What kind of economy would that be? Building big energy companies based on grain (calories). You can store energy in springs, to create portable energy. Introduced 15 characters. Had 3 plots going. New technologies kept coming up. Gets bigger and bigger. So kept paring as building. My son was born. Kept packing. Couldn’t see that multiple plot lines couldn’t be in 11,000 words. So most interesting thing was calories, the GM crops (control, intellectual property (from Mundane list), Indians flipped out [over something] and dragged that in as well. Peak oil, GM -- from that he created character who could carry out idea. Character integrated into world of points trying to make. Calorie smuggler to find gene-ripper who may have solution to problem. Muddy process of finding what was interesting about story. Once shifted focus, it didn’t make sense to set in SE Asia. It’s a grain story so it has to be set in deep farming regions, with Mississippi as road transport. Very little at beginning became story.

GZ: Sprague de Camp also had a “calorie” story. All that happens was two sleds chase each other over ice. Running and running, until one stops. Slide rule, calculates the number of calories they’d expended and finds that the others could not have survived. Hero turns back.

LA: Don’t do a calorie anthology.

PB: Still kicking around doing this as a novel. Back story is coming out in Asimov’s. Spin-out ideas still pretty neat. Yanked out early story character. Asimov’s story a bit more of an entertainment, but not as important. Working with central mass again. How might pull apart. Cultural appropriation: Process of girding self for writing story that he has no business writing about is daunting.

LA: It does sound like a novel I’d be interested in.

JG [to LA]: What novels interest you? What criteria do you use or just instinct?

How will Lou Anders respond? Does he expect novels to be accompanied by Alexander Hamiltons? or by dancing girls? What is the secret of selling a novel to Pyr? Stay tuned!

2 Comments:

Blogger Frank said...

One of the several things I didn't understand about the world of "The Calorie Man" was, why would they use springs to store energy? Why not use ethanol or biodiesel? Those are proven technologies for using crops as an energy source.

8/21/2006 01:46:00 AM  
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