Thursday, March 18, 2010
Science fiction author, Joe Haldeman
I was introduced to Joe Haldeman's work in the pages of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, where I read Marsbound, the first book (which was serialized there) in that trilogy. Haldeman has authored over 30 books. He's received Hugos and Nebulas for short story, novella and novel and several other prestigious awards for his science fiction novels and stories. He teaches writing as an adjunct professor at MIT. I'm sorry I didn't get to meet him in person at Radcon. He was billed as the husband of the Fan GOH, Gay Haldeman. Behind every great man...
When you're done with the interview, don't forget to check out my review of Starbound at Mostly Fiction Book Reviews later today.
(photograph by Mary G. Haldeman)
AW: How are you? I know you experienced some medical problems last year and into this one.
JH: Recovering pretty fast. The docs say it will take a year (until September) to get back to normal strength, after months of confinement. But I managed eleven miles on the bicycle a couple of days ago and hope to do a twenty-miler within the month.
AW: What themes run through your sci-fi stories and novels?
JH: Identity, responsibility, love, understanding. Big machines and explosions. Anything except the term "sci-fi," which is odious.
AW: Why is "sci-fi" odious? Is it like someone calling our beloved San Francisco, Frisco?
JH: Ann, the neologism "sci-fi" demeans and trivializes science fiction.
It's not the word's definition. It's the connotation.
AW: Is your wife, Gay, your number one first reader?
JH: We don't have a regular schedule. She often is the first person besides me to read one of my books.
AW: Do you launch a new story or novel from a character, a "what if?" or a world?
JH: Depends on the story. The current one, Earthbound(sequel to Marsbound and Starbound) started with a character. Camouflage started with an idea, a what-if, generated by a science-fiction world. The Hemingway Hoax was a literary challenge. The Forever War started with a line (the first line of the book).
AW: When did you begin writing? Has it always been science fiction?
JH: I began writing poetry in the second or third grade. At least four of my books are not science fiction.
AW: Tell me about your most memorable con or book signing experience.
JH: Winning my first Hugo, for The Forever War, was my most memorable convention experience. I was on top of the world. Heinlein was there and congratulated me. He said he had read the book three times.
AW: Do you read other genres? Which ones? Does this help with your science fiction writing?
JH: I like to read mysteries when I'm traveling. I've read westerns, biking out west. I'll read any genre except romance, and little high fantasy. Every book I read has some influence on my writing.
AW: In Marsbound and Starbound you feature a unique take on first contact. How did you come up with the idea of a race created by aliens to communicate with us?
JH: The idea actually came from thinking about mayflies; insects that only live for hours. If they were intelligent, how would we communicate with them? We might create a translator race, fast enough to talk to them but not too fast to talk with us. (Or a series of translators.) The Others in the Marsbound trilogy are creatures who live so long and so slowly that we are like mayflies to them.
AW: What are you working on now?
JH: Earthbound, the last book in the Marsbound trilogy.
Visit Joe Haldeman's Web page.
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