A little bit of writing on this today. Now pretty sure it's taking place in 1925. I wrote about a page two days ago, realizing that I needed to stop doinking about and actually produce some text. As a result, I now have something resembling an opening page, and I moved some things around to give myself a fair sense of how the opening scenes will develop. Still, large chunks of this story remain a mystery to me. In order to take on their necessary flesh, they'll likely become pretty sizable, so I won't be surprised to have another novelette on my hands. (I think each of the "Old Man" stories should be a novelette, but every time I begin, I start with rather slender elements.) For "Unearthed," and for another story (or set of stories, or perhaps a novel--all set in an alternate world), I've been drawing some inspiration and information from . . .
The Day We Found the Universe, by Marcia Bartusiak
An excellent book so far, it details the history of modern astronomy and astrophysics, focusing on events that led to the 1925 announcement of certitude regarding the actual (and once unthinkable) size of the universe. To realize that, only a little more than a century ago, most people thought the Milky Way was coequal with the universe is to enter such a profoundly different way of thinking, and Bartusiak then makes us feel the shock when the wide world gets immeasurably wider.
I also started, just yesterday, Philip Roth's latest novel, Nemesis, about the polio epidemic coming to a small New Jersey town. The story is interesting, so far, but the writing feels flat. Roth has never done much for me, and I've been amazed for some time how he's become a kind of literary elder statesman.