It was April. Ayatollah Kohmeni had a few months left to live, and no one had yet heard of Osama ben Ladin. There were still two Germanies, two Berlins, and a wall; I had had my dealings with that wall a few years earlier, in uniform, when the cold war was even colder. If my guest went with me to Europe, I could show her around.
The wind tore a handful of salt water off the crest of a wave and threw it into my face. It got my attention, and the next fifteen minutes were devoted to reefing down. By the time I got back to the wheel, Wahini was moving under half of her canvas and laboring heavily. I had to pay her off another point to ease her motion, and that put Bermuda still further off our course.
* * *
Six hours later, Bermuda was out of the question.
I had tried. I had spent an exhausting night fighting to windward, first on one tack, then another, but it was no use. Wahini was never meant to slug it out to windward.
When the watery sun came up, it found me huddled in oilskins, with Wahini plunging into rising waves. Northward, the stars faded to a clear blue day, but in the direction of Bermuda the sky was black with the oncoming storm. Once there was proper light to see, the ocean was a white froth on every side.
I sheeted the mizzen flat, shook the reefs out of the mainsail and furled it properly, then spun the wheel. On a new course due eastward, toward Europe again, with only jib and mizzen drawing, Wahini’s motion was easier. I watched her on her new course for a few minutes, then went below.
As I explained earlier this month in A Writing Life, Raven’s Run was written in the early 90s about events which purportedly took place in 1989. I added the first paragraph above during a recent rewrite. In 1989 I hadn’t heard of Osama ben Ladin.
The origin of Raven’s Run was ironic. After a long time of unsuccessfully trying to market science fiction and fantasy, I decided to write something contemporary to make a sale. Raven’s Run was the result. When I sent it to the agent I was using at the time, he praised it highly, then said that he couldn’t sell it because the bottom had completely fallen out of the market for that kind of fiction. My luck!
The story is tied to its era. It could not take place in today’s cell phone and Google Earth world, nor in the Eurozone. Ian Gunn fits his times because he was written during his times – after the cold war but before 9/11, an era fraught with danger, but also full of hope. Raven’s Run was designed to be the first in a series.
The events of the story simply would not have occurred the same way today that they did in 1989. There is no way it could be rewritten as if it took place in 2016. Instead I made a few small changes, like the first paragraph above and the prolog, which will allow me to treat it as a recent historical novel.