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OtherView: Greg Bear

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

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.
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OtherView: Anne McCaffrey

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

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.

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OtherView: Terry Pratchett

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Back in the early 21st Century, Discworld creator Terry Pratchett took the time to answer some questions for the crew at OtherSpace. Here’s how the Q&A went:

Startripper asks: How did you develop your own writing style?

Terry Pratchett answers: I don’t think it is something that you consciously develop.  You write, and if you are any good, your own style happens.  But it you want to think of it as some kind of mental body-building exercise, then reading widely is a good start.

Startripper asks: What do you believe is the central element, if there is one, to a novel? Would you advocate plot over description, for example? Perhaps characterization above something else?

Terry Pratchett answers: I don’t agree that there is one free-standing ‘central element’. Plot and character are both vital, description in the classic ‘it was a big mountain’ sense can be kept to a minimum except when its really required.  My belief is that the physical ‘description’ of a character, for example, can be built in the reader’s mind by careful attention on the part of the author to the character’s speech and actions.

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