Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.
Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.
It’s Valentine’s Day and so Mikhail and Anjali enjoy a well-deserved romantic dinner. But their date is rudely interrupted, when they find themselves caught in the crossfire of a turf war between two rival gangsters.
This is a Valentine’s Day novella of 23200 words or approximately 78 print pages in the “In Love and War” series by Hugo finalist Cora Buhlert, but may be read as a standalone.
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- This is a novella of 23200 words or approx. 78 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- The initial inspiration for Ballroom Blitz came, when I was putting together my annual round-up of Valentine’s Day themed science fiction, fantasy and horror stories and thought, “You know, you could write another Valentine’s Day story.” So I wrecked my head trying to come up with an idea and finally thought, “Why don’t I write a Valentine’s Day story for the In Love and War series?” And so the idea to send Anjali and Mikhail on a romantic night out that is rudely interrupted by people with blasters was born.
- Unfortunately, it was maybe two weeks before Valentine’s Day 2020, when I had the the idea to write a Valentine’s Day themed adventure in the In Love and War universe. Besides, what had been supposed to be a short story turned into a fully fledged novella instead, so the story was not finished in time for Valentine’s Day and now comes out closer to Christmas.
- The permanently rainy and cloud-shrouded rim world Gelasius is modelled after the way Venus was described in pulp science fiction of the 1930s and 1940s.
- The name of the planet is a reference to Pope Gelasius I who introduced February 14 as the feast day of St. Valentine.
- The name of the city Flaminia is a reference to the Via Flaminia, one of the main roads leading into Rome. According to legend, St. Valentine was beheaded and buried here.
- I named the shopping arcade where Manjula’s Fashion Emporium is located after Asterius, a Roman judge whom St. Valentine allegedly converted to Christianity after performing a miracle.
- Gangster boss Eddie Moran and his daughter Lola are named after the Prohibition era Chicago gangster George “Bugs” Moran, seven members of whose gangs were murdered during the so-called St. Valentine’s Day massacre on February 14, 1929. One of the murdered gang members was one Albert Kachellek. I borrowed his name for the warehouse owner for whom Anjali and Mikhail work.
- The perpetrators of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre have never been officially identified, but George Moran’s main rival Al Capone has long been considered responsible. Eddie Moran’s rival Fausto Falcone is loosely based on Al Capone, though I changed the name for obvious reasons. And unlike his real world counterpart, Falcone goes to prison for a far more serious crime than tax evasion.
- Lola’s Valentine’s Day date was initially supposed to be male. But as I wrote the story, I thought, “Why not make her date a woman?” and so Margo came to be.
- The title Ballroom Blitz is a reference to the eponymous 1973 song by the British glam rock band The Sweet. I chanced to hear it on the radio one day, while writing the story and thought, “That’s the perfect title for the up to then untitled story.” Marc Costello ordering three Peacekeepers named Steve, Mick and Andy to swarm out is a reference to the beginning of the song, where the band members are called out.
- The cover is once again stock art by the talented Thai artist Tithi Luadthong a.k.a. Grandfailure. In this case, the cover predated the story and in fact, The Chandelier and most notable feature only came about because of the cover image.