SF author Lou Antonelli died October 6 at his Clarksville, TX residence. He was 64.
Antonelli made a late start as a science fiction writer, initially posting his first story “Insight” to get feedback on the Speculative Visions website in 2002. His first published story came at the age of 46, “Silvern” in the June 2003 issue of RevolutionSF. His first professional sale was “A Rocket for the Republic”, to Gardner Dozois at Asimov’s Science Fiction, where it appeared in September 2005 and was well-received, placing third in Asimov’s annual Readers Poll in the short story category.
Antonelli grew up in Massachusetts. He discovered sf in grade school, reading Scholastic Book Club novels. The first one he bought was The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey.
He eventually sold 125 short stories. Gardner Dozois gave eleven of them honorable mentions in The Year’s Best Science Fiction. And his 2012 short story “Great White Ship” was nominated for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History.
Antonelli capitalized on his good relationship with editor Dozois to produce a nonfiction book about writing, Letters From Gardner, analyzing the development of 16 of his short stories, which also appeared in the book.
By profession Antonelli was a journalist, and he explained the launch of his career in sf this way: “There’s an old saying you have to write a million words before you are any good. I think that’s true. One advantage I had was that my million words were in newspapers. No one ever read my amateurish fiction, because my amateur stuff was published in newspapers. I was first published in a local newspaper when I was 12. I first started writing fiction when I was 46. That’s why, after my first acceptance, the editor said, ‘You seemed to have skipped the novice stage.’”
Late in life he and his wife, Patricia, acquired and produced the local Clarksville, TX newspaper.
Antonelli was politically active, and sometimes registered his dissent by running against incumbents. In 1982, at the age of 25, he ran as a Republican for Congress in a Manhattan-area district, losing by a margin of 85%–15%. In 2020, he ran for Congress in Texas’s 4th congressional district as a Libertarian, trailing both major parties with just 1.9% of the vote.
He did have one successful run for public office. In 1985, Antonelli moved to Texas, and in 1992, he was elected to a term as a member of the Cedar Hill ISD school board and served three years, but was not re-elected.
Antonelli likewise voiced his dissent within the science fiction field. His personal blog offered harsh criticism of an industry he considered controlled by those who were to the left of him politically. He co-founded an organization to rival SFWA, the Society for the Advancement of Speculative Storytelling (SASS) in 2012, with Michael A. Burstein as President, Brad R. Torgersen as Vice-President, and himself as Secretary. He even quit SFWA in 2017, but later rejoined and tried unsuccessfully to get elected as a Director in 2020.
He was a vocal sideline supporter of the Sad Puppies’ efforts to get their works nominated for the Hugo. In return, both Torgersen’s Sad Puppies slate and the Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies slates propelled Letters From Gardner and his short story “On A Spiritual Plain” onto the 2015 Hugo ballot.
That same year, Antonelli wrote a letter to the Police Department of Spokane, Washington, telling them to be on the lookout for someone who may incite violence — Sasquan guest of honor David Gerrold. In the uproar that followed, Antonelli published an apology which Gerrold publicly accepted and advocated that Antonelli not be banned from the convention. Antonelli was subsequently allowed to attend. However, Antonelli later resumed trying to justify what he had done. That same year he gained increased notoriety for publishing Carrie Cuinn’s contact information after she revoked plans to anthologize one of his stories, exposing her to abuse in email and social media.
The family’s obituary notice is on the Clarksville Funeral Home website. He is survived by his wife Patricia.
[Thanks to Olav Rokne for the story.]