I met Bill Housley of Wyoming at the Con. He’s the author of a novel called Into the Dark: Escape of the Nomad (Cowboy Logic, 2010), which I just finished reading. Bill Housley and Umberto Eco back to back are some stiff competition, but I expect Umberto can take comfort from the fact that Bill’s not after his medieval thrillers audience.
Into the Dark is Star Trek: First Contact meets The Astronaut Farmer with John Galt cast in the starring role. It is science fiction and also a thriller and also a call to action, strongly advocating the manned exploration of space (which I support, too, whether or not there are alien civilizations out there waiting to bio-mine us out of existence if we fail to achieve it).
Bill makes the first chapter of Into the Dark available on his blog (link above). It’s a strong start, and I recommend it for writers thinking about how to begin a novel. Some strong points:
- it begins on conflict (an argument);
- it has to handle a lot of exposition, and for the most part it builds this into the argument, which is almost always the best (least boring) way to handle exposition;
- the protagonist is introduced;
- the stakes (interstellar war and the destruction of the Earth) are made clear; and
- the chapter ends on something of a hook — even the good guys are skirting at the fringes of the law.