Book Rave: Bloom by Wil McCarthy…
and the value of writer support groups

By Linda Nagata
(cross-posted from Hahví.net)

Long ago, when the Internet was young and an overabundance of email was never a problem, I returned home from a vacation to find over twenty messages in my inbox. This was unheard of! And I knew at once that something was up.

What had happened was that the young and upcoming science fiction writer, Wil McCarthy, had decided to pull together a group of other writers who were still early in their careers, for the purpose of mutual support and information exchange. The queue of emails reflected an enthusiastic response from the invited writers. The last email in the queue was from Wil, saying something like “Well, we haven’t heard from Linda, so I guess she’s not interested.” To which I replied instantaneously with “Yes, I am interested! I just haven’t been home!”

Hooking up with this little group of writers was one of the best things that ever happened to me, as a writer. Yes, I learned an incredible amount, but just having friends who understood, who I could turn to when things went wrong in the business—that was invaluable, especially to me, living in isolation from other writers out here in the middle of the Pacific. I’m sure it’s the same for many who live in small towns. Finding people who share your passion can make all the difference, and I encourage all writers, especially if you’re just starting out, to find your team, your support group. You won’t regret it.

In my group we often served as beta readers for one another (although I don’t think the term “beta reader” had actually been invented yet). So I had the opportunity to read Wil’s novel Bloom in manuscript. I honestly don’t remember what I said about it, but in the acknowledgements, Wil thanks me and Kathleen Ann Goonan “for not pulling punches.” Hmm….

At any rate, Bloom was published in 1998 to terrific reviews, and it was a New York Times “Notable Book.” Its premise is that a runaway nanotechnology has destroyed all life as we know it on Earth and has made the inner solar system uninhabitable, leaving people to survive in small pockets among the asteroid belt and the moons of Jupiter.

Perhaps inspired by a need to stroll down memory lane, I pulled Bloom off my shelf a few days ago and started reading. I finished it last night, and I have to say, I’m more impressed than ever by this book. If you’re into hard science fiction, I encourage you to grab a sample and give Bloom a try.

I’m glad I can say “grab a sample.” I did not know this before I sat down to write this post, but it looks like Bloom was fortuitously re-published as an ebook only a little over a week ago.

As an addendum, I should add that after many years our group finally drifted apart, as most of us moved on to other ventures, but I still think fondly of everyone involved.

Linda Nagata is the Locus and Nebula award winning author of The Bohr Maker, Vast, and Memory, all available at Book View Cafe. Her latest book The Dread Hammer, is a fast-paced mythic fantasy of love, war, murder, marriage, and fate.



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