Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Author Spotlight: David Brin

In this Author Spotlight, we asked author David Brin to tell us a bit about the background of his story for Lightspeed,Bubbles.”

David Brin“Bubbles” was originally written in 1995. What inspired you to write this story?

Most of the universe is the regions between galaxies, yet no stories are ever set in that vast emptiness. I like a challenge.

What exactly are Grand Voyageurs? How did you come up with Serena in particular?

“Her job, after all, was to haul gifts from one spiral swirl to the next, or to and from great elliptical giants, galaxies so huge that it seemed extravagant of the universe to have made more than one.”

I liked the idea of starships so vast they would carry a million years worth of treasures from one galaxy to another, as “gift” because even passing through wormholes would be one-way, so every great civilization is constantly paying forward to the next one, never expecting “trade” in return.

Besides being an author, you are also a scientist, speaker, and consultant. What would you say your favorite occupation is? And how does wearing so many hats influence your writing?

Science influences my stories almost as much as my deep love of history—studying the poignant litany of human triumphs and blunders. My newest novel, Existence will (in 2012) explore the vast range of mistakes that might rob us of our future … and how we might navigate the minefield to get to the other side safely. Alas, this novel got delayed because a lot of people, companies, groups and agencies have been asking for my time. I have to cut down. And do what I do best.

The concept of the universe being gravitationally pulled towards its center and being born anew is not a new idea, but you take that even further in this story with your addition of The Coward and the passageway at the center. What are your thoughts on the eventual fate of the universe?

The long debate over the long-range fate of the universe is still unsettled. For a while the notion of a Cyclical Cosmos reigned … that eventually the Big Bang’s expansion would peter out and gravity would pull everything back into a Big Crunch. Frank Tipler’s The Physics of Immortality explores some amazing possible consequences. I played with that idea in “Bubbles.” At present, the pendulum is swinging toward a more “open” universe that may keep expanding forever. But the jury is still out.

At the end of the story, The Coward states, “I have hope that soon someone shall arrive who will leave me more than fragments.” What is he waiting for? And why is he so afraid to journey away from the center?

Sorry. Some things I leave for the reader to head-scratch about! The reasons are artistic. Puzzlement that hangs with you and makes you think.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

I enjoyed the notion that the way to travel from one galaxy to another was not to leave it via its boundary at the spiral rim … but instead to dive into the central black hole and emerge in another. Fun concept! You go from one to another, never “leaving” galaxies. But it is the ironic pinch at the end that I truly was trying for. It is up to the reader whether I succeeded.

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Stacey Friedberg

Stacey Friedberg

Stacey Friedberg is an editorial assistant at Penguin Books for Young Readers. She enjoys reading, writing, and cooking. You can follow her (very infrequent) tweets via @stacabird.