Monday, February 19, 2007

The Man Who Pulled Down the Sky (by John Barnes) Collection Letter of Provenance

You know, one thought that occurs to me is that the minimum bids on these collections are low enough so that for the price of one term of books for a typical grad student these days, it would be possible to have complete access to my working papers. So anyone who'd like to do a thesis on the cheap, step right up!

The Man Who Pulled Down the Sky really reaches pretty far back into my life; the short story that was the germ of it was begun when I was 23 and published when I was 25; I wrote the short story in St. Louis, started the novel in New Orleans; finished it in Missoula. I can't quite imagine how dedicated I was, once upon a time.

I packed everything that had survived into boxes in my files long ago, so I think this one is probably fairly complete, but who knows what else may turn up as I unpack more boxes. Unofficially, I'm trying to have the last of these collecton auctions finish on or before the 28th, because that's my 50th birthday, and the idea of getting rid of so much of my past is very appealing to me. As Dad always said, fewer witnesses, better life.

Okay, now, forthwith: the letter of provenance for my first novel --

LETTER OF PROVENANCE regarding Materials Sold as the "Man Who Pulled Down the Sky Collection"
To whom it may concern:
On February 24, 2007, I sold to [NEW OWNER] the following items which were used in the preparation of my first published novel, THE MAN WHO PULLED DOWN THE SKY. To the best of my knowledge, this letter enumerates what each item is, its date of creation when known or an estimate when not known, its condition on February 24, 2007, and other information which may be pertinent to scholars and collectors.
If at some future time I discover further materials which would have been included in this collection if they had been found before February 24, 2007, they will be shipped to [NEW OWNER] at my expense, and with a similar letter of provenance, plus a revised version of this full letter.
PREAMBLE: This collection is sold as a unit. It is recommended that it be kept intact rather than broken up, particularly in light of [NEW OWNER]'s obligation to assist in scholarly access to these materials. (See the LETTER OF UNDERSTANDING).
DEFINITIONS: Besides THE MAN WHO PULLED DOWN THE SKY –title of the published work – two other titles occur in this collection. "Manuel's Tears" is a novelet-length short story, first published in the Fall 1982 issue of CoEvolution Quarterly, from which the novel was eventually created. MEMOIRS OF A PAWN was the working title of the novel until Congdon and Weed purchased it and requested a different title. Manuscripts and other items listed below are referred to by the title they use internally. Additionally, for much of the working period, I abbreviated the title of the book as MOP.

TAG Short description Dating (as much as is known) Long description and commentary
A box of 5 1/4" floppies; all the surviving Man Who Pulled Down the Sky floppies Jan 1 1984 to October 1985 (including revisions requested by agent) These would require an old-media specialist to crack but there's a pretty complete set of all drafts (at least according to the labels there should be) and they seem to be in good shape
B 80 page 8x10 notepad with numerous notes about "MOP" First date is Jan 31, last definite one is April 8, 1985 Mostly this notebook was the one I used for Kershner's playwriting class, in which I drew many silly cartoons. There's also a lot of notes from acting classes and some from econometrics. But scattered in and among are my gradually developed plan for revising Memoirs of a Pawn, after I got notes back from Ashley Grayson
C Unburst fanfold printout of the draft of MEMOIRS OF A PAWN printed out in the first week of 1985 and sent to my agent, Ashley Grayson (that is, it's a copy produced by the same printer) labelled "Orig as Sent" First week of January 1985 Has an embarrassingly trite and silly beginning – covering history by beginning with a history lecture – but this was it, the first time I thought I'd finished a novel. Note that it's mostly printed on the back of an Iconics, Inc. programming manual, and Iconics manuals are definitely proprietary, so I cannot grant any permission to refer to or discuss that material. The reason I had it was because I worked with the Iconics product at Middle South a couple of years before, and it was a good source of cheap fanfold paper.
D Unburst fanfold labeled TYPO-PICKING COPY of MEMOIRS OF A PAWN Mid-December 1984 In those long ago days before spell and grammar check, it was necessary to go over a computer printed manuscript slowly and by hand to get things perfect – which was essential for a first novel by an unknown. (At that time my second short story had not yet come out). This is the copy that I worked my way through backwards, circling typos, spelling errors, etc. so I could fix them before printing the final copy.
E Cover flat with note from editorial assistant for THE MAN WHO PULLED DOWN THE SKY Spring 1988 Cover flat for the WorldWide Library (Harlequin) paperback edition published in August 1988
F Letters from and to Donovan Vicha (editor at Congdon and Weed) about galleys of THE MAN WHO PULLED DOWN THE SKY Dec 17 and Dec 29, 1986 Fairly detailed discussion of both production process and the exact changes made
G copy of my letter to Gardner Dozois answering various publicity and production questions Sept 11, 1986 Book was in a very hurry-up mode of production so a great deal of material had to be covered very fast; much that might interest someone trying to get the political context of the book
H Letter to Isaac Asimov (copy), thanking him for introduction and discussing various ideas from the introduction Dec. 29, 1986 Asimov had a habit of thinking he knew what writers intended in their work (though he was infuriated when critics thought they knew what he intended); I was trying to tactfully and courteously address his erroneous introduction, but unfortunately at the age of 29, I was neither tactful nor courteous.
I Final draft of Manuel's Tears August 1980 Final draft of my first published piece of fiction. Note that it was prepared on cheap paper on a manual typewriter (nb the margin marks at lower left of each page). A photocopy of this is what Stewart Brand accepted for CoEvolution Quarterly.
J Fall 1982 Issue of CoEvolution Quarterly Fall 1982 Contains my first story, "Manuel's Tears." In excellent shape, and now in retrospect I'm extraordinarily flattered that I was first published here; CoEvolution was an exciting magazine in those days!
K Notes from graduate novel-writing workshop at U of Montana, where I submitted Memoirs of a Pawn October 1985 My notes, on notebook paper, on what people said in discussion, plus their notes to me. The "John" in the notes is John Rember, who has gone on to a successful writing career also. PLEASE NOTE: scholars and historians are limited to fair-use quotation of these notes – they belong to their authors – EXCEPT for my notes on the class discussion, which may be quoted more freely.
L 2nd draft fixups and progress for Memoirs of a Pawn 12-20 to 12-26, 1984 Draft before the final draft; this was more about assembling than editing, because the Kaypro 4 didn't allow for very large files, so every chapter was made of several small blocks.
M Second (oldest extant) draft of Manuel's Tears finished May 31, 1980 (diary entry) Messy typing and much messier pen editing; done on an electric typewriter on the apartment's covered porch for the most part. Rough draft is probably lost for good.
N Third draft of Manuel's Tears Probably mid-July 1980 another very messy draft; last one before I put it into "proper" manuscript format
O Redraft of beginning of Memoirs of a Pawn June 1985 My agent had simply said that he didn't feel the novel started quickly or in an intersting way, and didn't want to put it out till it had a fast, energetic beginning; hence the space battle that it starts with now. I was teaching and in grad school and didn't have time to get it done until school was out.
P Markup of first part of Memoirs of a Pawn, preparing for redraft March-May 1985 These are the pages I carried around and scribbled notes on as I got ready to wade back in and get a proper front end on the book. Mostly unburst fanfold, mostly labeled with "2nd draft," not to be confused with the real 2nd draft that is Item L
Q "Unit inspection" of the first few files of Memoirs of a Pawn March 1985? Preliminary work on editing per my agent's request, while I was still sure it just needed a few little fixes and before I waded in to do it right. Just a few fanfold pages, some bad wrinkling, not much marked up
R rough draft of Memoirs of a Pawn (partial, begins on page 80) October 1984 quite a lot of marking up, though not nearly as much as it should have had. Some pages are duplicated, more are absent. Mostly on unburst fanfold. One part is on the back of some pages from THE NOOSE IS UP, a truly terrible play I was working on at the time.
S pages 41-340 of revised version of June 1985 of Memoirs of a Pawn – the draft that the published Man Who Pulled Down the Sky derives from June 1985 Mix of photocopies and unburst fanfold; I must have just thrown all these together when archiving. There might be occasional duplicated or missing pages but it's fairly complete from Chapter 3 (page 41) on.

And again -- I seem to fight many battles with blogger over whether it will take my html tags -- here's a url for the auction (closes Feb 24, latish), a link I hope but at least something you can cut and paste:

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