Where do you get your ideas?
“Sandcastles” was written several years into the current American war in the Middle East, which even now still shows no signs of ending. The initial trigger was an article much like this one about 3D-printing a lunar base, using moon dust, a technique which I thought could also be applied to desert dwellings. Although the 3D printing in the story is used for reconstruction after Western military action devastates a city, “Sandcastles” seems to have predicted modern efforts using 3D printers to save cultural heritage sites in the face of extremist demolition.
An odd parallel appears between this story and George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, which was released 21 days before “Sandcastles” appeared in print (but 6 days after the story was accepted for publication). The New York Times review of his book includes:
ground zero workers (“tears running down their faces, cutting a path through the soot like rivulets through a desert,” he writes, in a rare striking image)
And at the end of “Sandcastles” I write:
She is still, and covered in dust, so perfectly frozen that I think she is a statue. Then she cries, a tear runs through the dust on her face…
How strange that the man whose actions were most singularly responsible for setting the stage for this story presents the same image at very nearly the same time. Nothing more than a coincidence (it’s not even a particularly unique image), but it’s enough to make me uneasy about the parallel processes our strongly godlike AI overlords may be pulling on us.
The first time I ever heard the word “ankh” was in Logan’s Run. The image of a giant construction robot demolishing sections of neighborhood and rebuilding them in its wake is most likely from the Star Wars: X-Wing series of novels (specifically, Wedge’s Gamble) by Michael A. Stackpole. Dude has an asteroid named after him.
The confectioner’s eggs are an exact memory I have of my mother making Easter dinner placeholders — giant pink eggs made entirely out of sugar, decorated with yellow, green, and blue frosting. We weren’t allowed to eat them.
“Sandcastles” only kicked around the slush piles for about a month before it was picked up by Electric Spec.
Number of rejections: 7