It’s been almost forty years since this story’s publication. With the rise of social sites like Facebook and Twitter, the world has never felt closer. Your story poses the question: Will globalization result in a homogenization of human culture? I know how Schwartz would feel about it, but do you think this is a negative thing? Are the gains we make worth the cultural diversity we give up?
I don’t think having a Starbucks on every corner would be a big step forward for humanity. On the other hand, modern sanitation in what are now third-world countries would be a boon. Call it a draw.
Ultimately, Schwartz chooses to remain in his fantasy world and exits the starship. Is mortality a theme you explore often in your work? Are there certain themes you find you return to?
There certainly are, and mortality is one of them. Didn’t someone say that love and death are the only important themes for fiction?
You’ve published more than eighty novels and hundreds of shorts stories. Do you have a preference for working with novels or short fiction? Outside of the fact that novels require more time, do you take a different approach to writing novels as opposed to short stories?
Short stories don’t give you any room for making errors. A novel can go off the tracks for three or four chapters in a row and a lot of people won’t notice. When I’m writing a short story, I feel uneasy about the need to make every word count. Writing novels makes big demands on the stamina. And so throughout my career I’ve switched from one to the other for a change of pace.
Your career has been so impressive and your writing has been incredibly prolific. What’s a typical writing day like for you? How have you maintained the discipline to remain so consistent for so long?
I don’t know any other way to do things. I go to the office, boot up, start writing, keep going until I’m too tired to continue, and stop. Been that way for almost sixty years.
You’ve written in a variety of genres, are an SFWA Grand Master, and a multiple Hugo and Nebula award winner. What’s the best advice you have for aspiring speculative fiction writers?
Read a lot. Think about what you’ve read. And write a lot. Also travel to far-off places, try new things.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects?
Not at the moment. I’m giving myself an extended sabbatical after what has been a very long and busy career.
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