Monday, December 24, 2012

GUEST BLOG: Jeffrey Carver on "What's Next?"

Jeffrey Carver says about himself, "Most people know me as a science fiction writer or as a dad. My most recent novels are Sunborn and Battlestar Galactica: the Miniseries (novelization). My continuing project is The Chaos Chronicles, and Sunborn is the latest tale in that series. I also wear the hat of educational web content editor, technical writer, home handyman, wrestling dad, dog walker, and private pilot temporarily grounded by funding depletion. (Maybe I wear too many hats.) I have a wife, two daughters, a cat, and a dog. I really should get more sleep. Though I grew up in Huron, Ohio, I have lived for many years now in the Boston area. Check out downloads of my fiction at http://www.starrigger.net."

1) What is the title of your next work?
The Reefs of Time.
It's Volume Five of The Chaos Chronicles. Or, to put it another way, it's the long-awaited sequel to Sunborn. It's also still very much a work in progress, and I don't have a publication date for you, unfortunately. Some of you have been waiting a long time for this book, and I very much appreciate your patience.

2) Where did the idea come from?
It continues a story inspired by chaos theory, which began years ago with Neptune Crossing, the opening volume of The Chaos Chronicles. The series chronicles the adventures of one John Bandicut from Earth, a survey pilot out on Triton (moon of Neptune), whose journey starts with a search for relics of life from outside the solar system. He finds it, in the form of a quarx—a noncorporeal alien who takes up residence in his head—and the translator, a powerful machine or being of equally alien origin. A lot happens after that—four books' worth, in fact. Worlds in danger, starting with Earth. Reluctant heroes. New friendships and loves where least expected.


In The Reefs of Time, we are hundreds of years further into the future, out at the edge of our galaxy. There's a calamity in the making, of truly galactic proportions. Li-Jared's homeworld is involved. The starstream is involved (see From a Changeling Star and Down the Stream of Stars). The Mindaru are involved (see Sunborn). The inspiration for this volume came not just from chaos theory, but time theory, as well. The human element was inspired by... well, I'm not really sure, to be honest. My own feelings of awe in the face of a seemingly chaotic universe, perhaps.

Each of the books is a story complete, while building a much larger story arc.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Sounds sort of like science fiction, doesn't it?

4) What actors should play your characters in the movie?
I'd never thought about that until now. Well, okay, this sounds nutty, but actually Tom Cruise, toned down, might not be bad as John Bandicut. Chris Pike could be good, too. Or Jeremy Renner, or Mark Ruffalo. He has to be smart and capable, but also a little crazy. He's got actual, alien voices in his head, and he's loyal to those he loves, and when pushed, he's willing to take some enormous risks.

Most of the characters in this book are aliens, and that's a tough casting challenge. Willem Dafoe was great as Tar Tarkas, and he might be a pretty good Ik (an alien). Lynn Collins (Deja Thoris in John Carter) could be the beautiful, four-breasted humanoid, Antares. Or Lena Heady. For Julie Stone, human... not sure. Someone smart, competent, cute, reminiscent of Allison Mack (Chloe in Smallville); but I'm not sure she's quite right. Someone similar, though. Summer Glau? Too exotic. Piper Perabo? Too adorable. I think this part is still open. Li-Jared and the robots, I really have no idea.

5) Give us a one-sentence synopsis. (Go ahead, try!)
When a time distortion opens a channel from the center of the galaxy in the deep past, to the outer galaxy of now, it also opens a path for a malevolent group of cyber-entities to come forward in time, threatening thousands of civilized worlds. It falls to John Bandicut and his alien companions to find a way to close the timestream. And if Bandicut survives, he might just learn that Julie Stone has made it to Shipworld, out at the edge of the galaxy, and that she has played a part in the mission.

Okay, I made it in three sentences. But it's a whole lot more complicated than that, really.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It is slated to be published by Tor Books, who have been waiting patiently for the long-overdue manuscript.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
Ouch. Five years or more in, I'm nearly finished with the massive first draft. I expect the rewrite to go a lot faster, though it will be a huge job, involving a lot of weaving and a lot of cutting and tightening. 

8) What other books would you compare this story to?
That's a hard one. It has some of the epic proportions of Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep, and A Deepness in the Sky. Maybe some kinship with Gregory Benford's galactic core books. Or Jack McDevitt's The Engines of God. Or Samuel R. Delany's Nova. Or Niven's Ringworld. A bit of Heinlein, a bit of Clarke. It's character driven, but probably comes in somewhere between hard science fiction and galactic space opera.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

James Gleick's book, Chaos. An article in The Planetary Report about chaos in the solar system. An image of a man, a pilot, driven a little mad by the loss of his cybernetic implants, as the first human to encounter an alien.

10) What else might pique the reader’s interest?
It's a great, sprawling adventure with characters I find very interesting (humans, aliens, robots), a complex plot spanning half the galaxy, and—oh yes—time travel! I can't wait to read it. And I really can't wait to finish writing it. The Reefs of Time. When it's done, the readers of this blog will be the first to know.

All six books that connect to it, by the way, are readily available as ebooks. (That includes four books of The Chaos Chronicles, plus the two Starstream novels mentioned above. Paper books are also available, though you might have to go to the used market for some of them.)
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