Novel Gets a Name

I figured out the title early on, borrowing from Dashiell Hammett’s story “This King Business.” But who’s business would it be? The answer to that came from the story, and the name of the character for whom Shannon is searching.

Gary K. Wolfe, who reviewed The Silverberg Business in the August issue of Locus magazine said: “Probably the first thing SFF readers need to know about Robert Freeman Wexler’s The Silverberg Business is that it has nothing to do with any legendary grand masters of the field.” This is true, in that the content of the novel has nothing to do with Robert Silverberg. However, it also does.

During my senior year of high school we had to take various placement tests for college; apparently I did well enough to place out of my first college English class. The first semester of my freshman year, I took the class required for students who had placed out of first semester English. The only thing I remember from the class was the week that the teaching assistant took over. He assigned us a paper/story in which we introduce a new character.

At the time, I was reading Robert Silverberg’s novel, Lord Valentine’s Castle, serialized in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. In the current issue (probably the one shown here, from December 1979), Silverberg introduced a new character. I realized I could study how he did it to help me write my piece for the class. This was when I discovered that writers learn from studying (and copying) other writers. I’ve been copying ever since.

I don’t remember the name of the teaching assistant. He must have been a creative writing graduate student (as a freshman, I didn’t know there was such a thing). Whoever you are, thanks for the assignment. I didn’t know how important it would be.

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