My 1994 manuscript “Handymen” shows some shifts of emphasis in my novel plots


I developed my next two manuscripts after returning to Arlington VA from Dallas in 1988.

The second of these two, called “Manuscripts” survives in print, apparently from an early ink jet printer, and provides some new ideas.  I wrote it in the period from 1991 to August 1994. I remember “finishing” it after returning from a vacation trip in Colorado where I had my “epiphany”, deciding to write the first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book.  Following the custom of “My Weekly Reader” grade school quizzes, I’d have to give it a best name, which would be “Handymen”.


There are some new ideas and changes in focus.  For one thing, there is more attention to the sexual destinies of other characters again, but some of this may be accomplished in rituals.  I am no longer the only character to pass through a “tribunal”.  Another idea is that, while the idea of going to an “academy” is strong, there usually is not a separate “commune” later.  While many characters are at the “academy”, the outside world has some kind of calamity.  In this novel, the idea of a novel retroviral disease is developed further, and eventually will spread to much of the population.  The novel pays much more attention to the spread of the disease than had “Tribunal and Rapture”.

The other big idea is that the impetus of the novel comes from the mysterious disappearance of a coworker (Dan) whom Bill admires. The novel is set in Texas, and Bill is working for a company that services the training academies (again related to civilian defense reservists, and other things).  One day, Dan doesn’t show up in his usual bombastic fashion at work, and Bill calls Dan’s wife, a surgeon.

Bill meets a lead investigator, Rudy, who happens to be gay, and whom he had once observed on the paddleball courts in Coney Island.  Bill eventually gets infected, and the novel breaks toward a connection between those who are “infected” and “born again”.

The novel also explores computer security issues in a way that foreshadows modern concerns about viruses and Trojans, but just in a mainframe environment.

There was an earlier version of this book which was lost, but which was different in that the story starts in Dallas but the openings section includes Bill’s relocation to Virginia.  During the trip back (while stopping in Arkansas), he meets a young man who will become the “Rudy” character.  The military remains secret control of the “academies” in this version.

Both versions appear to have been created in Word Perfect on an AST Research computer that I bought at the end of 1988.  Both documents were created while I lived in the Country Club Towers in South Arlington, the second after I had moved into a larger apartment.  During the work on the first document, I worked for a small consulting company (the forerunner of today’s Lewin) and then for USLICO (to become ReliaStar and ING later) during the later.

(Published Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 11:15 PM EDT)


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