SCAVENGER HUNT/FINISH LINE
The third novel I ever wrote was a 100,000-word jaunt called Scavenger Hunt. I had -- and still do have -- an inordinate fondness for this book because, unlike books like Herds and Caravan, this is a light-hearted interstellar romp of the kind I loved to read when I was growing up. (The fact that its hero looks suspiciously like me and travels among the stars in a hedonistic space yacht with an all-female crew doesn't hurt, either.)
Since Laser Books had already published two of my titles, I offered them this one as well. Roger Elwood, the editor, liked it, but there was a problem: the book was too long to fit Laser's format of 50-60,000 words. He wondered whether I could cut it down to that length, but I told him absolutely not; it was already pretty much at the bare minimum for the story I wanted to tell. The next solution was to break it into two books -- but since Laser Books were supposed to be complete in each volume, could I make the two halves read like independent books?
To get my baby out to the public, I gave in on this point. The break in the middle of the story is totally artificial. Toward the ending of the first book, I added some fake conflict to cause the characters to break off the Hunt, and then I added two chapters at the beginning of the second book to recap what happened in the first and to jumpstart the story again.
In 1999. I returned the book to its one-volume format. Along the way I snipped some parts and changed or expanded others. If you read the previous two-volume version, you might find this a significantly different experience. I'm particularly fond of a new character, The Barb. Though she only has a minor role in the proceedings, I find her a lot of fun to be around. I hope you will, too.
An interesting note about the Laser artwork. The Laser Book covers were all painted by multi-Hugo winning artist Kelly Freas. At the time he did the cover for Finish Line, he had never met me nor seen any pictures of me; but going just by the description in the book, the character whose face appears on the cover of Finish Line does indeed bear a startling resemblance to the way I looked in those days.