Why we published: 88, by Michael R. Fletcher

It is one of the very rewarding joys of being a publisher, a least for me, to find a gem among the unsolicited queries and manuscripts that arrive in my email. That was the case with Michael R. Fletcher’s 88.

Fletcher first approached Five Rivers in 2011 with a very raw, gritty near-future dystopia about an autistic boy who was sold for the ability of his brain. Not his body. Just his brain. And that was to be installed as the core of a bio-computer system for a business magnate with delusion of world domination.

Michael R. Fletcher

When I read the synopsis my reaction was not positive, I’m afraid. I thought: oh, please, not another attempt to knock off a Sawyer or Card or Gibson trope. However, because I’m also a writer, I’m too cognizant of the fact we often don’t sell ourselves very well through synopses and cover letters (at least I never did), and so the real test would be to read the first three chapters and see if the writer actually has any talent, if there’s enough of a story there to capture my interest (and I do tend to be a bit jaded and difficult to please).

Well, thank whatever deity you wish I did read on. Because what I discovered was a new writer, with some short fiction publication background, who understood the beauty and precision of language, the imperative of creating fully realized characters, and of weaving all that around a plot so tight and tense it sings.

We assigned an editor (Barb Geiger), and so it was the long journey of refining a story began. The character of 88 changed genders along the way. Abdul became more than a mouthpiece. Relationships were solidified and expanded, plot points addressed, extraneous descriptions and reliance on gimmicks (ellipses, em dashes, quotation marks or italics) eradicated.

To my delight we revealed an author very serious about honing his craft, about understanding good enough rarely is. What resulted from that crucible was both a writer and a story worth your attention.

I firmly believe the name of Michael R. Fletcher is one you need to watch, and whose work you need to read, because here is a definite science fiction rising star.