I felt when I first read it that it was a satisfying ending. I felt it was the right ending. It’s been my guidepost for all the work I’ve done on this. There are going to be some holes. Robert Jordan told fans before he passed away that he didn’t want everything wrapped up neatly with a bow. And so there are no major cliffhangers, but there are some indications of things that happen after the series, things that continue on.
Just like the old Wizard of Oz, I wanted everything black and white, and then when she saw the faeries, a burst of color. As I was going through it the second or third time for the revisions, it occurred to me that it didn’t make much sense unless she was color-blind. Otherwise, why is she, who is really our eyes here, not seeing things in color, why is everything in black and blues and gray tones?
Once at a friend’s house I saw a book called The Martian Chronicles. How odd, I thought. I opened it and I was trapped. I want to clarify that Ray Bradbury was never one of my favorite authors: He’s a little soft, kind of romantic, and, worst of all, moralizing. But The Martian Chronicles is a great book. And looking for similar things, I found the great writers of the 1950s and later.
Oh, brutal punishments—eyes being pecked out by birds, people being put in barrels full of nails and rolled downhill, or sent out into the stormy sea in a ship where it’s going to sink. Things like that. But there’s always a principle of justice underneath it. It’s always the bad people who get punished, and it’s always the good people who get rewarded. So it’s not gratuitous, it’s not horror for the sake of horror.
Q: To what extent do you think the future depicted in the Vorkosigan Saga might actually come true? A: In bits and pieces, I think it will. The space travel part I think is entirely bogus at this time. There’s no reason to believe that we will ever have cheap, easy interstellar travel. Other parts of it—usually the parts that I concentrate my plots on—are more realistic: the biology, the biotechnology, the genetics, and the genetic engineering, they’re more grounded.
Some people on the Malazan Empire fan site were sort of saying, why go for something where we know what’s happened? My response would be you only think you know what’s happened. One of the things I’m pushing for is the notion that history is not an accurate portrayal of anything at all.
I was in my early twenties, and a friend of mine made me some Lemony Snicket business cards for my birthday, and I used to give them out at bars, and I used to write long, rambling letters to the editors of newspapers and sign them “Lemony Snicket.” And so then years later when I started writing for children, it occurred to me that it would be fun to write them and publish them under the name of the narrator rather than the name of the author. And then I had this name lying around gathering dust.
Pirate Cinema was inspired by a legislative event in the United Kingdom, where I live. In 2009, they introduced legislation called the Digital Economy Act, which includes something called “three strikes,” which says that if you’re accused—without proof—of three acts of copyright infringement, you and your family get disconnected from the internet.
For me, any book I’m writing is also a chance to get in and research and read and learn things that I maybe only knew a little bit about before. So one of the fascinating things about researching heaven and hell is, of course, the fact that there are so few descriptions of heaven, because most people can’t really explain what it would be like beyond a couple of sentences, whereas hell is quite often personal.
When you look at a lot of science fiction novels they’re asking questions about power. There are questions about what it means to have power and what are the long-term consequences of power. When you think about the Dune novels—the original Dune novels start out as this Machiavellian fix-up—the battle between these houses—but they turn out to be a very troubling meditation on what it means to take over an entire civilization and set it on a certain path.