Occasionally I find hints of how much of an impact it had on the literate group of furry fans in the early '90s. Most of the feedback didn't get back to me but I find references to it I'd never known about, when it gets brought up in discussions. It's one of many projects that I've had that stalled, of course, but it's one of only two that dramatically flamed out in public. (The other is the revival of Mythagoras, which I devoutly hope the science fiction small press world will forgive, if not out-and-out forget.)
So what happened to it? A lot of things. The main reason I used to give is that I got bogged down in figuring out the next part of the book. That's absolutely true, but that was just the start. Ultimately what did it in was time. Months of stoppage became a couple years. Other projects came up. Other concerns came into my life. I'd just left college and had moved from part-time temporary work into full-time work, then back to temporary, then finally into the "high tech" fields I'd been wanting to bumble into for years.
For the years it'd been since I'd started it. And more years have passed since. As the cliché goes, I'm not the same person now.
This isn't to say that I think things I wrote a decade ago are bad. A Gift of Fire, A Gift of Blood is still a pretty damn good piece, if I do say so myself (although gallingly, I can't find the circa 1994 revision of it I did for Bloodlines, a non-furry vampire APA). "Travelling Music" still has some pretty funny writing in it. And what's done of In Our Image has, mixed in with some painfully awkward things, some startlingly powerful scenes.
Unfortunately, the awkwardness was the harbinger of things to come. There are plot hooks scattered about the nine existing chapters that could have led in a half-dozen different directions, all of which were supposed to come together in a grand finale, a not-quite-delbierate imitation of Big Science Fiction novels that culminated in cataclysmic upheavals. It's no wonder I had no idea how to get from where I was to where I thought things were going.
In 1996 or 1997, I'm not sure which, I started to try to rewrite Image. Really I still didn't have any idea where I was going; I just thought maybe I'd pick up the momentum again if I started trying to refine the way I'd said things the first time. Naturally, it didn't get very far.</p:>Since I started trying to tell Tara's story, other stories have come along trying to do similar things. The Spielberg-Ghost Of Kubrick collaboration A.I. used a robot human boy instead of a genetically engineered feline girl. Orson Scott Card cowrote a book I haven't read called Lovelock, about a genetically enhanced chimp. Lawrence Watt-Evans' story "Foxy Lady" from Zoomorphica, which I published, touches directly on a major thematic question--are animal constructs human?--albeit in a snapshot kind of way.
But, I'd still like to tell Tara's story.
I've stripped the story down to its bare essentials, just a paragraph or two, and I'm playing around with them in Dramatica Pro to see what might fall out. This isn't to say that I've started work on Image again in any real measure. It's possible I won't be able to make what I have in mind work at all, and if a viable structure gets built up around the base again it's certainly going to be different from what I had in mind back in the Yarf! days. At this point I'm considering it a creative exercise, just like the other unstarted novel clunking its way through Dramatica. (And all this going on when I've thought I should be working harder on developing my non-genre, "literary" voice.)