The Writing of D. F. Lovett

D. F. Lovett's Blog

Enjoy regular thoughts and ideas, in web-log form, from D. F. Lovett. 

Brief Tales of Martian Terror

You’ll have to excuse the title. No, I have not written a series of micro-stories set on the fourth planet. Instead, I have continued the Bulwer-Lytton Rewrite for another four days, reaching Day 19 this morning. 

Beginning on the sixteenth day of the 100 Day Project, something new happened: the sentences began to drift into the realm of science fiction or speculative fiction or whatever you would prefer to call it. At the very least, they began to take place on Mars.

If you have any familiarity with my other work, this probably comes as no surprise. I like to write science fiction. However, this change did not result so much from a desire to write science fiction but from a desire to not write something set in London (the city in which the original Bulwer-Lytton sentences lies). Mars came as a natural choice, not only because I like writing science fiction, but because I’m currently working on a story in which Mars is a leading character. 

This also corresponded with my finding this paperback from 1962:


Here is Day 16, from April 18th:

The sky lacked the storms he’d once known—no clouds or rain or lightning, only red dust and wind. (For it is on Mars that our scene lies.)

You’ll note that one has major similarities to the original Bulwer-Lytton, while still mostly its own entity. 

Up next, the disembodied voice returns, without the parenthetical interruption but with the same new setting:

April 19th, Day 17:

When it first appeared, the voice commented on little more than setting—as if Paul Clifford needed to be reminded of the red dust and wind that shrouded his existence.

Next, I wanted to rewrite the entirety of the original, but on Mars this time. However, as soon as I got seven words in, I realized that alone was far better than an exhaustive reboot of the original one could be. So I left it as a small, tidy, seven-word sentence:

4/20, 18

It was a red and windy night.

This next one is something very different:

4/21, Day 19

Even as a grown man—years after his escape from that dry and desolate planet—he would still dream of red dust in his eyes.

With the final sentence, I realize I have strayed very far from the original opening line of Paul Clifford. I am now in new territory. And I think that’s a very good thing that could take us to very intriguing places.