Rob Wolf interviews Tim Pratt
about his Philip K. Dick Award
-nominated space opera The Wrong Stars.
Pratt is the author of over 20 novels, picking up a Hugo Award and nominations for the Nebula and many other awards over a productive and varied career. Until now, however, he's written mostly contemporary fantasies, avoiding science fiction--even though he's always been a fan of the genre. "I always thought I just wasn't qualified to write science fiction," he says. "I felt my grasp of the physics and orbital mechanics and the hard SF elements weren't good enough."
But after finishing his Marla Mason urban fantasy series, he was ready for something new--and no longer felt intimidated by the idea of writing science fiction. "I thought, 'It's not as if writing science fiction means I have to write utterly plausible, completely grounded, hard science fiction.' There's a continuum that at one end has hard SF and at the other end has Star Wars
The Wrong Stars
is the first book in a planned three-part space opera that reveals Pratt to be a master storyteller. The novel has fascinating characters (including two colleagues who are sewed together into one entity by well-meaning aliens ignorant of human physiology). It's got a plot of surprising twists that unfolds at a rapid clip. It's got sufficient threats to the human race to keep the stakes high. It even has romance and humor.
And, of course, The Wrong Stars
is full of the kind of mind-bending inventions and concepts that only an advanced alien species--or wildly inventive author--can devise.
"I actually literally made a list when I sat down and started thinking about making a space opera system---what are things I really love in science fiction? I like really interesting weird artificial intelligences. I like bizarre incomprehensible alien artifacts. I like talking squid from outer space. I like wormhole bridges and all the problems that come when you can travel places so quickly that you can violate causality. ... I just wrote down all this stuff and I'm going to get most of it in the three books."
Rob Wolf is the author of The Alternate Universe. He worked for a decade as a journalist, writing on a wide range of topics from science to justice reform. He serves as director of communications at a think tank in New York City.