Asimov’s (with Michael Skeet)
This is the first collaboration I ever wrote, and man, am I glad I did.
I wrote the first part of this story as a sort-of response to Heinlein et al’s “bootcamp” stories; that is, stories about personal transformation brought on by violent, abusive training experiences. Having had some bootcamp-experiences (Clarion, for one, not to metion working on behind-deadline software projects), I had some opinions on the subject.
Having written the first half, I was hung up on an ending — or even a decent middle. At Judith Merril’s memorial party at the Bamboo Club in Toronto, I found myself in the buffet queue with my workshopmate Michael Skeet, bemoaning this state of affairs. He remarked that he had quite the opposite problem — he couldn’ get started, but he did great endings.
So I sent him the story’s start. He’s a busy guy, and it was about a year before I saw the story again. I was enchanted. Michael had picked up the story’s thread beautifully, and had run with it, taking it nearly to conclusion. I sent it back to him with a note or two and he went back to work.
In Spring 1999, my workshop — the Cecil Street Group — went away for a weekend-long writing retreat. Michael and I finished the story over the weekend, and a few months later: success!
It was immensely gratifying working with a collaborator. I really felt like the whole was more than the parts.
My favorite story here was “I Love Paree” by Cory Doctorow and Michael Skeet. This is set in fairly near future Paris, during some sort of civil war, in which one side is some type of rabidly pro-French traditions group. The narrator is a Canadian who makes money by analyzing patterns of data. His young female cousin is visiting, and he’s showing her the nightlife when the nightclub they are in is raided by the radical group. Everyone is “conscripted”, which for the men, mainly means service as cannon fodder. For pretty young women, something else, of course. As for the narrator, he works his way into a job using his analysis skills, all the while trying to find and save his cousin. It’s tense and exciting and imaginative.
Rich Horton, Tangent Online
Another action tale is “I Love Paree,” a nifty collaboration by Cory Doctorow and Michael Skeet. With a fine line in post-modern cultural humour after the manner of Bruce Sterling, this novelette examines how the patriotic extremists of near-future Paris, alarmed by the submergence of their culture under Euro-Disney and American fast food franchises, commence a violent revolution dedicated to the rebuilding of the old metropolis, the place of baguettes, cafes, and Edith Piaf. Two Canadians, including the rather jaundiced narrator, are kidnapped by the Communards and conscripted into the struggle for Gallic purification. Personal and political outrage fume beneath the wisecracking; again, justice is at stake, and without it, patriotism is meaningless. But such as the Communards will never heed such lessons.
Nick Gevers, SF Site