Good morning, everyone! Today's guest is science fiction author, Jeffrey Carver. Mr. Carver was a Nebula Award finalist for his novel Eternity's End. He also authored Battlestar Galactica, a novelization of the critically acclaimed television miniseries. His novels range from the adventures of the Star Rigger universe (Star Rigger's Way, Dragons in the Stars, and others) to the ongoing, character-driven hard SF of The Chaos Chronicles—which begins with Neptune Crossing and continues with Strange Attractors, The Infinite Sea, and Sunborn.
Jeffrey has taught writing in a variety of settings, from educational television to conferences for young writers to MIT, as well as his ongoing Ultimate Science Fiction Workshop. He has created a free web site for aspiring authors of all ages at http://www.writesf.com. Learn more about the author and his work at http://www.starrigger.net or visit his blog, Pushing a Snake Up a Hill, at http://starrigger.blogspot.com/.
First of all, thanks for inviting me to visit your lair here, especially given how cold it's been outside lately. I'm a little off my beaten path here, so forgive me if I sit in the wrong chair or something. You see, I'm generally considered a writer of hard SF or sometimes space opera, not a romance writer or even a science fiction romance writer. That notwithstanding, I thought it might be fun to see what interests I have in common with you romance types, rather than focus on the differences.
Let's start with this business about being a hard SF writer—or, as writer Melissa Scott and I once agreed we should really call ourselves, "high viscosity SF writers." Meaning, we take our science seriously, but not as seriously perhaps as some of those fellows who actually do science and engineering when they're not writing stories. The thing is, we high-viscosity writers take our characters as seriously as we take our science—maybe even more seriously. And where you have characters—by which I mean living, breathing, believable characters who can steal your heart—there you're also likely to find passions, and among the passions are romantic and sexual love. Not thrown in just to sell more copies, but integral to what makes the characters real, part of what drives them.
In a novel I wrote called Eternity's End, a star rigger named Legroeder discovers love in the unlikeliest of places, a den of interstellar pirates. A star rigger is a kind of star pilot chosen for his or her exquisitely trained imagination and sensitivity, essential qualities for someone who must steer a ship along the misty and changeable Flux that underlies the light-years between the stars (in this particular universe). Star riggers tend to be romantics deep down, emotionally vulnerable visionaries. In Legroeder's case, he's a little raw because of some terrible things that have happened to him, on top of which he's caught trying to sneak into a pirate outpost to gain information. And that’s where he meets the chief law-enforcer of the pirates, an edgy young woman named Tracy-Ace/Alfa who carries even more cyber-implants in her head than Legroeder. Later, the implants prove to be an interesting facilitator of a romantic encounter, slightly condensed here...
He peered down at their clasped hands and found he wanted to squeeze her hand tighter, to renew the sensation of physical touch. Her eyes brightened as he squeezed, and he felt a second wave pass through him. This time it came from his hand and went straight up his arm. It was accompanied by a strange itch.It took him a moment to realize that the itch was a tremendous spike of uplink/downlink. They were exchanging knowledge in a great exhilarating rush...Snippets of his childhood play, on the long rolling beaches of Claire Marie—pleasure darkened by a certain melancholy, and by his unease with the water. Flashes of the joy and release of an unrestrained dash through the streams of the Flux...Entwined with his flashes were hers—early memories of a farmhouse and grandparents, then coming of age in an utterly alien place, a culture in hiding. Achieving at an early age, mastering the inner life of the intelnet, of the implants and the knowledge systems...Legroeder was filling like a vessel with her challenges and fears, and also her excursions into hopefulness. And against that, his own joys and friendships blazed into relief...Legroeder was teetering on the edge of a complete surrender to the exchange....She wanted him. And he wanted her.
The connection through their implants catalyzes a union that comes together with a speed and intensity that would be astonishing if not unbelievable in ordinary interaction. It proves an essential component of their unlikely trust in each other, eventually leading to friendship and love.
I'm currently writing in another universe, a series called The Chaos Chronicles, which started with Neptune Crossing and most recently touched down with Sunborn. This series is closer to true hard science fiction, inspired by chaos theory, though you also wouldn't be wrong to call it space opera. A human, John Bandicut, has by the second novel become an exile from everything he's known, including a woman he loved. He's become part of a small band of aliens and robots living in a vast ship-world at the edge of the galaxy, when they're not being called on to execute impossible missions. John must make his peace with his exile, and also with the noncorporeal alien who has taken up residence in his mind. He also needs to forge new bonds of friendship, to replace those he has left behind. He cannot possibly carry out the work he needs to do, basically saving worlds, without these new friends...one of whom is a humanoid female, smart, beautiful, and empathic.
How is he supposed to know that his human lover may be offered a similar path to the stars?
It's hard to say which is the more challenging part of writing these stories: the world-building, the creation of interesting and believable aliens, the often complex storylines, or the interpersonal, inter-species relationships that drive and hold the stories together. I'm pretty sure, though, that the most satisfying part to me as the author, when all the pieces come together, is the relationships. That's what I care about the most; that's what drives me.
Eternity's End -- A tale of the Flying Dutchman of the stars. Star pilot Renwald Legroeder undertakes a search for the legendary ghost ship Impris and her passengers and crew—whose fate is entwined with interstellar piracy, quantum defects in space-time, galactic coverup conspiracies, and deep-cyber romance. A finalist for the Nebula Award.
- "True love, cognitive dissonance, divisions among the enemy, ambitious schemes, another mission—this one deeper than anyone has ever gone before into the substrata of the Flux—and a final resolution that leaves the reader both breathless and satisfied." —Analog SF
The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1-3 -- An omnibus of three novels: Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractors, and The Infinite Sea. When John Bandicut encounters alien sentience on Triton, his life changes forever—from sacrificing everything to save Earth, to confronting a malicious entity at the edge of the galaxy, to fathoming the abyss of an alien ocean.
- One of the best SF novels of the year — Science Fiction Chronicle
- "Jeff Carver is a hard sf writer who gets it right—his science and his people are equally convincing... from a chilling look at alien machine intelligence, to cutting-edge chaos theory, to the pangs of finite humans in the face of the infinite." —Gregory Benford
- "Masterfully captures the joy of exploration." — Publishers Weekly
-- Lynda Again,
Neptune Crossing Review