Science fiction author Greg Bear took the time to answer a few questions from the players at jointhesaga.com back in 2004:
Newt from OtherSpace asks: In Eon, you had Earth undergo an event that you called The Little Death, which, if I remember correctly, was a limited nuclear exchange that in the end led to all-out war. Do you see something like that as still being possible, what with the present ‘hawkish’ stance of the US? If so, what do you see being the end result and, if not, why not? What do you think will prevent a nasty confrontation (either with or without some form of WMD) from happening?
Greg Bear: I’ve given some thought to revising EON to reflect present reality, but have not yet made substantial progress. I doubt a nuclear exchange, limited or major, will happen anytime soon. The world situation now is almost unimaginably different from what it was in 1980-84, when I was writing EON. WMD are always a possibility–vigilance is certainly required. But what worries me more than a possible attack, under present circumstances, is the response on our part. We may do ourselves more damage, in the long run, through the limitation of civil liberties and the destruction of constitutional protections than any terrorist could do to our population or infrastructure. I call this “autoimmune disease,” which is when the body’s cops start destroying healthy tissue to get at a possible infection. Remember–an anthrax attack might kill hundreds, smallpox thousands, but flu still kills tens of thousands every year, and somehow we cope. It’s the reflex psychological response that makes terrorism so effective. We must police our own reactions very carefully.
Fionnlagh from Chiaroscuro asks: What’s your perspective and opinion on President George W. Bush’s expressed desire to move ahead with a manned Mars mission and a return to the Moon?
Greg Bear: Bush gave a surprisingly well-prepared, well-thought-out speech, hitting most of the required bullet points with skill and grace. (I wish we had been so thoughtful and prepared and informed about Iraq and other neo-con issues.) That said, no bucks, no Buck Rogers–and we are so deeply in debt now that any increase in NASA’s budget, even one so obvious and essential as this, will face stiff opposition, even from conservatives. Let’s see how it works out. NASA is clearly rejuvenated with this mandate. And it’s long overdue.
Anne McCaffrey, who has inspired a loyal following of readers to keep up with the tales of Pern and the dragons and riders who dwell there, honored OtherSpace with an interview back in the year 2000 or so. Here’s the Q&A:
Mikhar asks: What have been your main influences in your writing? Have you found yourself inspired by any other authors?
Anne McCaffrey answers: I was very young when my parents read to me from Rudyard Kipling, but I grew up wanting to emulate his ability to tell a story that makes you read and reread it. In my preteens, I liked Edgar Rice Burroughs because his Tarzan and John Carter stories were so unusual. Rereading him now, his chauvinism and conservatism annoys me. But he was a man of his times as I am a woman of mine. However, when I was fourteen, I read Austin Tappan Wright’s ISLANDIA and Wright’s philosophy had an intense appeal for me at that impressionable age which I have never lost.
Gildar asks: Have any events in your books been symbols for a real life happening? if so, what?
Anne McCaffrey answers: I don’t do symbols but I’m not above taking someone else’s idea and switching it inside out – if I can make a story out of it. Although, when I was trying to get pregnant for my second child, I did look into exogenesis – and back in 1956, I wrote a story called The Greatest Love. It dealt with a woman who agreed to carry to term the fertilized egg of another one. About ten years later, “in vitro fertilization” was possible. Ironically enough, my story wasn’t published until after an English surrogate mother had given birth to a child that had no relationship to her at all. I haven’t so much been inspired by other authors – though I’d love to be able to write like some of them. But I have read stories and thought, well, what if THIS was true, instead of what they posited. That’s entirely legal – just a new spin on the ball. After all, science fiction – indeed ALL fiction – is “a what if” situation: what if THIS happened instead of that! There are only so many basic plots: you have to gussy them with fresh characters, fresh dialogue and fresh endings.
Sometime in the late 20th and early 21st Century, during an old incarnation of the OtherSpace website, we had the privilege of participating in a series of interviews with several science fiction and fantasy authors. Some of them joined us in-game for live chats, while others were kind enough to answer Q&A e-mails. I’d like to start doing that again in this decade. First, though, I’ll be posting the interviews that went before – for the sake of posterity!
Peter F. Hamilton was born in 1960 in Rutland, England. He has been writing science fiction since the mid-1980s. His most popular works include The Reality Dysfunction, A Quantum Murder and Mindstar Rising.
Wes Platt asks: Which character do you feel more kinship with? Joshua Calvert, the preternaturally lucky rogue/merchant or Father Horst, the fallen priest who must redeem himself? And why?
Peter F. Hamilton: Actually, I consider that both of them ultimately redeem themselves. The Joshua Calvert you meet at the start of the Reality Dysfunction is not the kind of person you could trust to save the universe. He grows and learns throughout the three books until he does become the person everyone trusts. For that reason, I suppose I feel the most empathy with him. Trying to keep an open mind is important to me, and seems to become more difficult as we grow older. So while I wouldn’t call him a role model, he certainly has my sympathy.
What I’m Reading
Blackout by Connie Willis
What I’m Playing
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II
You Don't Know Jack
World of Warcraft
Left 4 Dead 2
What I’m Writing
No Son of Hekayt - Book I: Artifacts
Free to download in PDF format!
Coming soon: 31 Days of OtherSpace - 1 work of fiction a day during March 2011.