What was the inspiration for “More Adventures”?
I have been fascinated by human spaceflight since I was eleven years old and have done a lot of research into and writing on the subject — five books, in fact, with a new one on the way, in addition to a couple of dozen articles. I’ve met dozens of astronauts, flight directors, and space program types. And for years I have grown a bit impatient or even completely cranky with the way human spaceflight is portrayed. (I like Gravity as an adventure film, but it is about as realistic about spaceflight as The Hobbit.) So I wrote what was, to me, a realistic near-future space story.
I loved the metaphor “the way a solar flare degrades the SLIPPR link”: Did you have any other wonderful turns of phrase you wanted to use but ultimately had to set aside?
I never let a wonderful turn of phrase go to waste, but I’d be lying if I told you that I thought this was especially elegant at the time. Looking back after a decade, though, I am pleased and a bit surprised. By golly, that young man has potential . . .
What were the other directions you considered for this story arc (or did it go according to the original vision)?
I’ve had the typical variety of writing experiences — the slow, painful slog versus the inspired improvisation. “More Adventures” was close to the former, though not painful . . . just a steady development of characters in a setting.
How does screenwriting influence your short story writing? (And/or vice versa.)
Great question, because scriptwriting forces me to think in scenes and drama — so there’s a major influence. At other times, writing fiction is a welcome respite from scriptwriting because it allows me to control time and enter a point of view.
Film and TV writers have shaped my prose writing as much as novelists and short story writers. For example, “More Adventures” is all Billy Wilder — the “Ulyanov” anecdote came straight from a biography.
Whose science fiction do you reread?
I can reread early Heinlein and Simak and occasionally do — the same with Delany and Zelazny of the 1960s. I don’t go back to a lot of newer SF I’ve read, which would include Leckie, Stephenson, Liu of late, though I do enjoy it . . .
Any news you want to share?
I have a new SF story — “”The Sunset of Time” — forthcoming this spring in Old Venus, an anthology edited by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois for Bantam. Right now I’m getting ready to dive into season two of Z Nation.
Spread the word!