Often no single thing, place, or event inspires a complete story. Stories tend to rise up from a tangle of inspirations, but sometimes a significant story element can be traced to a specific thing.
“Observations on a Clock,” appearing the February 2012 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, has its root inspiration in a call for submissions for a themed anthology. In the summer of 2010, Dagan Books issued a call for stories about “alien” archeology. My writing group, Hopefull Monsters, decided to use that theme as a writing prompt, and we brainstormed ideas. I was interested in exploring alien artifacts that weren’t weapons or miracle devices that would save or necessarily benefit humanity. I wanted to explore the idea that alien devices were just that: alien. As such, any attempt of humans to interpret those artifacts would suffer from the “human element.” How could humans understand something that was truly alien?
Two ideas came out of that brainstorming session. One developed into my story “Hoodoo,” which was selected for the IN SITU anthology (forthcoming in 2012), and a second developed into the dark “Observations on a Clock,” which I finished after the anthology’s submission deadline. If you’ve already read “Observations on a Clock,” I hope you enjoyed it. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy of the February 2012 Asimov’s today, before they run out!