Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Robert Sawyer and George Zebrowski interview each other

Posted by Trent Walters at 3:09 PM
Robert Sawyer

George Zebrowski (no website found, but this is an interview with a link to a story and a review)

RS: We've been meeting at the same conventions, etc. for 20 years.

GZ: We've talked about movies....

RS: We both love Planet of the Apes. It's the secret to winning the Campbell.

GZ: [hard to hear]

RS: We're both writing about the here and now

GZ: What I see most--the point is essential... the cogency[?].

RS: Both into personal and philosophical conflicts. Passionate and devoted to this literature. Don’t think it’s the literature of science but of philosophy. Focusing of definition helps us engage in what we do. SF is more for philosophy extrapolated.

GZ: [SF is] Awareness or knowledge fiction--understand “science” that way.

RS: Merrill library -- MC(SF)^2 . We all had a gut reaction that this betrays what we’re trying to do.

GZ: Merrill notes in [her old anthologies] Best SF that she's always searching for meaning of “science” in SF. That’s how I first started to think about it. Take Vonnegut’s view: dropped “SF” term. Nonetheless, he always had an SF attitude.

RS: Merrill is an example of writer-editor [GZ earlier said that the writer-editor was key to genre--RS and GZ have worn both hats].

GZ: Writer-editors created category. With Galaxy and F&SF, both run by Campbell’s pupils (who took away most of his power).

RS: What editors do you credit for shaping you today?

GZ: Campbell. Talked with 6 hours. Eager to talk. Told GZ that SF elements have to be more SF than magic. Eric Frank Russell was his favorite writer.

RS: When I teach, editor and writer relationship can be perceived as adversarial by beginning writer. But ideally it is positive: Both have same goal: Work as good as possibly can be.

GZ: [changes mind?] Fred Pohl most influential. An editor [Cele Goldsmith?] rejected first book yet encouraged, said had good spots. Most editors are writer-editors. She had a jazz muscians attitude.

RS: The Listeners, influential [probably James Gunn's novel most often noted]--in several [of his novels] were SETI. What’s all this SETI? a reader had asked, and RS realized it was Gunn’s novel that had inspired him. So not just scientists influenced by JG's novel.

GZ: Realistic SF may be reinterpreted in future.

RS: Fiction about science and scientists. Scientists had personal lives, gives humanity to characters.

GZ: Points out Fred Hoyle, Benford.

RS: What are you working on now?

GZ: Stories shine more brightly put together. Finished crime novel where physicist has to confront whether science means anything. “Settlements” --agreements people make.

RS: Starting new trilogy. Soon WWW may become accidental AI as approaches number of synapses in human brain. Usually hand-waving, but now doing much research.

GZ: All human civilization have to step back from ourselves.

RS: Hominids: Who we are and how we behave--evolution.

GZ: Who are we and where we going (if anywhere).

RS: Was pleased to hear Betty Ann Hull’s noting that RS had avoided foisting answers on reader. The purpose of art is to present questions or else answers can be soapboxing. To be a scientist, you have to be very specialized. SF writer can be grad student his whole life and can change major at will. Are there new ideas? Fred Pohl’s rec: New Scientist.

GZ: We’re all part of one system. Was writing worth it?

RS: Yes, it was worth it. My parents were grounded in realities. His mother said, "Do you know what the odds are against that?" Father said, "You’ll be gambling while everyone else is working to establish themselves." As long as it makes you happy, that’s all that matters.

GZ: My step-father said I couldn’t do this. Couldn’t wait to show his first novel sale/published. It was worth it, but it wasn’t easy.

JG: Notion of philosophical fiction -- social commentary. My impression of your work: You’re revisiting great themes and commenting. Done consciously?

RS: Yes. I’m striving to present concepts with modern lens. Our view of robotics is a 19-year-old's [Isaac Asimov's, when he wrote his first robot story] view of robotics. Agrees with Ordover’s idea that it’s time to retell these old stories. Most common review: "Sawyer breathes new life into old idea." Likes new ideas, but prefers to reexamine the old ideas. He's sophisticated in the SF sense: Knows what has happened and takes it further. Parts with Ordover on ? [Probably the idea that SF is not derivitive enough]. Resnick and Larry Niven -- what is it you try to write in SF? Niven: Writes what he loved to read as child. Resnick: writes from his present time of life. Sawyer wants to combine these impulses.

GZ: Genius time travel stories. And he thought they were all done. Loved Ringworld, but wished it didn’t become Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.

RS: Doesn’t know if he’ll be innovative everyday, but will [always] be reflective.

GZ: We’re making connections all the time.

Diane Turnshek: What is a futurist?

RS: Company pays $3500 for talks. Library pay $100 for reading. We have the gift to take all of this science and make it digestible. Here are the issues raised, and problems. That’s also a futurist.

GZ: Discovering possibilities in science magazines. Take complex things and make accessible.

RS: Both fantasy and SF. Fantasy: can’t get there from here. Need to make right personal and economic choices to make SF a reality. What we do in storytelling: tell to denizen of story’s milieu.

GZ: Estrangement gives you perspective. Our greatest ability is to step back.

Reader (to GZ): How do you organize 35 years of stories?

GZ: Black Pockets: three types of horrors (personal, political, metaphysical); Swift Thoughts (greatest hits, grab bag).


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9/25/2009 01:41:00 AM  

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