Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures, a new anthology edited by Bascomb James that includes my story “From a Stone”, is now available in trade paperback (Amazon, Barnes & Noble) and ebook (Amazon, !ndigo, Barnes & Noble, Kobo). Scroll down for my Q&A with World Weaver Press.
WWP – What was your inspiration for creating your Far Orbit story?
EC – “From a Stone” was inspired by a number of things. I had read a magazine article about SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which discussed the challenges of not only trying to understand an alien species that may have no common frame of reference with us, but also what exactly would constitute irrefutable proof of intelligence in the first place. At around that time I was also taking a planetary geology course at the University of Toronto, and a lot of the science portrayed in “From a Stone” came from that. I was also greatly influenced by the book A Man on the Moon, Andrew Chaikin’s superb history of the Apollo program, much of which dealt with the compromises inherent in trying to do science and exploration within the practical and political constraints of a government space program. The fictional ship in “From a Stone” is named for Apollo 17 astronaut-geologist Harrison Schmitt, and I was thrilled to meet Dr. Schmitt a few years ago and actually gave him a copy of the story.
WWP – How do you feel when you finally finish a story and send it off? Relief? Trepidation? Exultation? Something else?
EC – Mostly relief, perhaps with a little bit of exultation. The temptation to keep rewriting is always there, but then I remember Heinlein’s Rules.
WWP – Why do you write science fiction stories? What is it about this genre that appeals to you?
EC – As an aerospace engineer who has worked on a number of real space missions like the Phoenix Mars Lander, I guess you can say some parts of my life are a bit like a science fiction story, so why not write about it? There have always been important linkages between science fiction and the real-life space program. Our knowledge of the Universe, our attitudes towards science, and our understanding of science and technology are some of the key influences to science fiction. In turn, science fiction has helped shape perceptions of the space program, in some cases influencing the politics and funding of space projects and even the design of the missions themselves, as well as inspiring people like me to pursue careers in engineering and science. This is what appeals most to me about the genre.
WWP – Who are your favorite science fiction authors?
EC – Arthur C. Clarke had a huge influence on me. This is why I was so touched when Bascomb James compared “From a Stone” to Rendezvous with Rama in his introduction to my story.
WWP – When reading for enjoyment, some people read a story only once while others reread stories. Which type of reader are you?
EC – Definitely a re-reader. I often discover new things on subsequent readings, certainly with novels but also in many cases even with short stories.