Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

The Odd Lots Project

Every so often someone sends me an email to ask, “Is there any place I could find your story ‘Our Lady of the Endless Sky’? I read it years ago and it was a really good story. I’d like to read it again.” Swap in the title of any of several other stories or idea pieces that I published in PC Techniques / Visual Developer what seems now like decades ago–because it is. Some of my idea pieces and humor from the magazine are already up, linked in an archive page that you can find here.

Still, it’s only a few of them, mostly because for those few I still had the original word processor files. Most of those files have been lost. All that remains are the magazines themselves.

Five or six years ago I sketched out an idea for a book containing some of the old BEGIN / END / The Vision Thing / Breakpoint pieces, plus some of my better Contra entries. For almost four years I was occupied with my new novel Dreamhealer. (The paperback edition is now for sale on Amazon, so that project is finally complete.) With Dreamhealer out of the way, a week or so ago I started building a TOC and searching out files for as many pieces as I still have. Some had to be scanned and OCRed from the magazines. Some were buried in odd folders in my data drive. All of them needed cleaning up. Quite a few I have only in WordPerfect format. Fortunately I can convert these using a handy utility called QuickView Plus. The Contra entries are copy’n’paste.

I work on it when time permits. I now have 45,000 words in the master Word file. My target is 75,000 words. There’s still plenty of scanning and OCRing to do, plus introductions to put all this ancient stuff in context.

The book will have seven sections:

  1. Essays and Editorials
  2. From Contrapositive Diary
  3. Poetry (maybe)
  4. Parody
  5. Memoir
  6. None of the Above.

The Poetry section may not happen. I’ve only written three poems in my life that I would show to the general public. Two of them are e.e.cummings pastiche and one Robert Frost pastiche. When God was handing out poetry genes I was standing in the Whimsical Tutorials line. (Fortunately, it was a short line.)

One thing that won’t be included in Odd Lots is “STORMY vs. the Tornadoes,” which appears in my AI SF collection Souls in Silicon . There are a few items that fall in the forbidden zone between fiction and nonfiction, which is what the “None of the Above” section will capture.

I will publish it in both Kindle ebook format and trade paperback. I don’t have a timetable yet, but in nice round numbers I’d like to see it laid out and ready to publish by the end of the year. When I flesh out the TOC a little more, I’ll post it here, and if you remember something that you liked but don’t see in the TOC, let me know in the comments.

The biggest task for now is simply reviewing Contra to remind myself what I’ve done. This is a challenge, as I’ve been publishing Contra now for 22 years and have about 5,000 entries. I’m working on that. So stay tuned. This will be fun. I don’t expect to sell thousands of copies. Mostly what I want to do is put a lot of my mostly-forgotten work back in the public eye. This’ll do it.


  1. Jim Tubman says:

    I will buy this!

  2. I’m up to 55,000 words now, so I have to start being careful. Something in the back of my head is whispering, You could always start planning More Odd Lots now that you know you have the material.

    Whew. I think Poetry is now out fersure.

  3. Tom says:

    BTW, the sunspot cycle seems to be on the upswing. 17 and 15 meters are opening up during the day. Have worked into Europe (from SW Missouri) several times using just 100 watts and an all-band vertical.

    Long time since the last ‘Contra’ post. Hope all is well.

    1. Like a lot of us, I’m a little depressed at all the virus BS, like counting positive test results as though they were all brand-new infections, when in fact (when using the common PCR test) they may not be infections at all. So this slows me down. I’ve also been furious at Facebook for stomping on something I tried to post that contained a link to a news item about a truckers’ strike. Like all those coward bastards, they told me it violated their nebulous terms of service, but didn’t say how.

      I can only take so much of that.

      I’m experimenting with MeWe now. I tried Minds and something about it just didn’t work for me; I tried Gab ages ago, but it’s all politics 24/7, and I prefer writing about other things.

      So that hasn’t left a lot of time for Contra entries. My reach on Contra has never been as large as my reach on the major social media platforms, and now that I have seven volumes of fiction to sell, that begins to matter. Given the current political hysteria, I’m not entirely sure what I might write.

      I noticed that the sunspot count is very suddenly up, and although I prowl 20m regularly now that it’s no longer an oven in my workshop/shack, we’ve been stuck so long in this sunspot hole that I got out of the habit of monitoring anything above 20m. Will take a look later today. I’m also working on a new telescope base for my 10″ scope, and there are doubtless Contra entries in that. So hang in there.

      And as always I’ll ask: Have you heard any stations in greater Phoenix lately? If so, shoot me a message. I still want to set up a net, but without sunspots our options are limited.

  4. […] I announced the project here last October. It’s taken a lot of time to put together in part because I had to OCR so much of it, and I hate OCRing. The other time-consuming element was trying to decide what-all should be in it. The bulk of what I’ve written on programming is now obsolete, and what isn’t obsolete is in published books that are already available. But my DDJ columns? DOS programming? Modula 2? Extinct. I suffered over those decisions more than I should have. I gave myself a 250-page topstop for the paperback. It came in at 235 pages, so I could have thrown in another Contra entry or two. At some point I simply had to say, “It’s done.” […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *