Farmington author wins sci-fi award

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FARMINGTON – Local author Barry B. Longyear was recently awarded the 2007 Analog Science Fiction and Fact AnLab Award for his novella, “The Good Kill.”

The award is based on a reader poll, Longyear said Monday. The story, which appeared in the November 2006 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, is the first in a series of tales called Jaggers and Shad.

During the award ceremony, he was given notice that Analog would be purchasing the latest Jaggers and Shad story, Hangingstone Rat. He has sold four stories in the series, he said.

The stories revolve around a British detective and a duck, an amdroid or an animal that can take a human imprint, he said.

Longyear said he was in his late 20s before he read his first science fiction book, and he enjoyed the humor of the writing genre until he started writing it himself when he either disagreed with the author or found lines being recreated in his own writing. So, he switched to reading historical pieces and mysteries of which the Jaggers and Shad tales are science fiction mysteries.

A scientific gimmick is what distinguishes a science fiction piece from a horror story, he said. For instance, the story of Frankenstein would be no story if the science of creating Frankenstein was taken away.

Longyear and his wife, Jeanne, moved to Farmington from Philadelphia in 1970 where they opened a print shop. The couple met in Detroit while attending college and wanted to move “as far as we could from Philadelphia,” he said. Traveling through New England, they came into Farmington from New Hampshire and decided it was a nice area to start the print business.

“After a few years, my wife wanted to start a tax business which left me to decide what do I want to do when I grow up – I wanted to write,” he said. “But once we sold the printing business, it was scary as there were two things I hadn’t figured out, mainly what and how to write.”

Longyear, who said he was lucky with his original choices, began to write, and he attributes part of his success to being a “born liar” as he related how he invented his own references for college research papers. One teacher couldn’t find the reference in the library so he told him it was one of his father’s editions and had been lost in a fire, he said chuckling and admitted how he enjoys being “pretty much a clown.”

While dealing with some health issues, Longyear said he writes seven days a week if he can and said he plans to keep writing right into retirement.

After all, what is retirement other than doing what you’ve always wanted to do. “For me reading, research and writing, that’s what I’m already doing and for me it’s recreation,” he said.

Longyear has taught several writing workshops and a couple semesters at the University of Maine at Farmington, but the successful writers, he said, need to dig down within to find something new rather than just coming up with something to please an editor or teacher.

He enjoys gardening, fishing, travel and downhill skiing, a sport he took up at age 49, he said.

Longyear’s story, Enemy Mine, was developed into a motion picture starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr., and he was the first writer to win the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award and the John W. Campbell Jr. Award for Best New Writer all in the same year, according to his Web site, www.barrylongyear.net

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