First lines

Io9 had an interesting post on great first lines in SF*, which prompted Scott Westerfeld to post the first lines of some of his novels, which…

Well, you know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Here are the first lines of my novels. Are they great? Hard for me to judge. But they each got the story going:

The lights of the car slashed through the deluge, twin spears of illumination impaling falling raindrops that glittered silver against the blackness of the wet pavement, the wet sky, the wet world.

The Dark Unicorn
The actors on the rickety wooden stage had almost finished their bawdy skit.

Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star
Cold wind lashed my face; cold rain dribbled down my back.

Spirit Singer
Something woke Amarynth in the small hours of the night

Lost in Translation
Jarrikk watched the humans crossing the polished black basalt floor of the Great Hall of the Flock as closely as if they were prey, hearing their strange footsteps echoing back from the distant walls.

The main pier of Hansen’s Harbor stank, but that was only one reason Chris Keating hated it.

Terra Insegura (at the moment)

Emily Wood jerked wide awake in the pilot’s chair of the dolphin sub, heart pounding.

(OK, technically that’s two sentences, but just “Bump” seemed a little abrupt.)

Of course, non-fiction has opening sentences, too:

Jimi Hendris: Kiss the Sky
Shortly after 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 24, 1966, a young man stepped off a Pan American Airlines airplane at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Janis Joplin: Take Another Little Piece of My Heart
On Saturday afternoon, June 17, 1967, a band with the name of Big Brother and the HOlding Company took to the stage of the Monterey International Pop Festival at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, eighty miles south of San Francisco.

(I originally wrote, “a band with the unlikely name of…” but it got edited out, much to my chagrin. The current opening reads clumsily.)

Orson Scott Card: Architect of Alternate Worlds
In the late 1960s, a sixteen-year-old boy living in Orem, Utah, read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, a classic science fiction epic set in the far future.

Genetics Demystified
The concept of the gene came largely from the work of one man–an Augistinian monk named Gregor Mendel.

A Safe and Prosperous Future: 100 years of engineering and geoscience achievements in Saskatchewan
Engineers–and engineering projects–were few and far between on the Prairies in the years before Saskatchewan became a province.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Master of Imaginary Worlds
The world might never have heard of J.R.R. Tolkien, or The Lord of the Rings, if not for two young people.

When Michael Edward Gladstone was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1987, he appeared to be a normal, healthy baby.

Careers in Outer Space
“Space: the final frontier.”

No, really, that’s how it starts. And since I can’t possibly top that, I’ll end there. (Even though I have many more opening lines in many, many more books…)

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and a journey of a hundred thousand words begins with a single word, then a single sentence, a single paragraph, a single page, a single chapter…and before you know it, you have a book.

(OK, that may gloss over the challenges just a little…)

*One of the lines they quote is from William Gibson’s Neuromancer: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” As Robert J. Sawyer likes to point out, that sentence has actually dated quite badly. When Gibson wrote Neuromancer, everyone would have pictured a sky gray and fuzzy. These days, a television tuned to a dead channel usually shows a bright blue!

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