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Brenda Cooper and Larry Niven, Biulding Harlequin's Moon
Brenda Cooper's The Silver Ship and the Sea Review of Brenda Cooper's The Silver Ship a/t Sea

Brenda Cooper's Reading the Wind Review of Brenda Cooper's Reading the Wind

Author Brenda Cooper, The Silver Ship and the Sea

Brenda Cooper

05-01-2009: interviews Brenda Cooper, author of the military science fiction series The Silver Ship.

MilSciFi: "Welcome."

Cooper: "Let me start with a bit of a caveat.  My series is about war, but it is not right in the middle of the military science fiction genre.  Readers won’t feel like they are reading about Chris Longknife or Honor Harrington, and only the last book (not yet available) is devoted largely to battles.  Here's a brief summary of the novels from the perspective of how war and battle play out in them."

THE SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA (Available now in paperback):  Our heroes, six genetically altered kids left behind as spoils of war on a colony planet that detests genetic engineering come of age.  This is an adventure story that is colored by war, but there is no real actual battle, and certainly no lovely space battle with ship guns blazing.  But your readers might like it anyway.  It was picked by Booklist in 2007 as one of the top ten adult books for youth to read, and my readers have been teens through a ninety-year-old fan.

READING THE WIND (Available now in hardback):  I don’t want to do much in the way of spoilers, but the least warlike of our heroes, now an adult, starts the first battle of what will be a far larger war than she can imagine.  The book ends with a lovely long battle.  While small space ships (planet-based or attached to regular ships) are used here, this is mostly a ground war with air support.  It does pit some very technically advanced folks against others who have far less technology.  Only about 10% of the book deals directly with battle, though.  Other things are also afoot.

WINGS OF CREATION (available in November):  The short version is our heroes try to avert war while gaining skills, being betrayed, and traveling to a new planet.

THE MAKING WAR (an outline, but I hope it will be available in 2010 or early 2011):   We finally get lovely space battle with guns blazing.  The backdrop, setting, and a bunch of the action takes place in the middle of a deep-space war between groups of planets with…ideological differences. 

Cooper: "I didn't try to write this as military science fiction, but the series is all colored by war and I think it might interest your readers a lot."

MilSciFi: "What was your inspiration for your story?"

Cooper: "I started the series shortly after 9/11.  The war in Iraq was just beginning.  I actually did not want us to go to war in Iraq, but it got me thinking about war and fighting, and so the series is largely colored by that.  When I wrote THE SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA, I wasn't sure yet if it would be a series (or if I would be able to sell it at all), and I started out wanting to write a good adventure story that explored the question "Gee – if we think we are different from one another now, what will happen when we really are different because genetic engineering will actually give us different capabilities?"  The war and fighting themes emerged more as a response to what was going on in the world than as an original idea, and I think that may make them even more authentic."

MilSciFi: "Do you have any future plans for stories set in the same universe?"

Cooper: "I plan to do some short stories here, and there is room for another series; not to extend this one, but to write a whole different story arc.  But I'll write other books for a few years in between, and then return to the Five Worlds (the basic star system the books are set in) if that feels right."

MilSciFi: "What would your ideal project be if you could plan your own anthology?"

Cooper: "My favorite anthologies in the past few years have been the Fast Forward series put out by Lou Anders at Pyr and The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction.  So I think I’d do something like that – invite a bunch of authors to write what they wanted as long as it was squarely science fiction."

MilSciFi: "What other upcoming works are on the horizon for you?"

Cooper: "Hopefully finishing this series.  I've been working more on short work lately, since I love that form and I've been too busy to do as much as I like.  It would be nice to sell a dozen short stories this year."

MilSciFi: "How would you describe your experience working on the book?"

Cooper: "Engrossing.  For me, working on a novel is falling into it – sleeping and daydreaming and scribbling notes and writing as much possible."

MilSciFi: "If you had a chance to write one story/novel just because you wanted to, and didn't have to worry about if it would sell or not, what would it be about?"

Cooper: "You know, that's a really tough question.  I think I am writing the books I want to write, and really they are about us.  Humans are such interesting creatures – seldom wholly good or wholly bad, but often irrational.  We are truly wondrous and scary and tender, and I like exploring that on the level of individuals and society."

MilSciFi: "What advice would you give the aspiring military science fiction writer?" 

Cooper: "No matter what you want to write, the most important thing is getting words on paper.  Writers write.  And I suspect that there is a curious audience out there that likes to think through battles and motivations and question the authors, and who I hope will go easy on me since I didn't start out trying to write books that might appeal to the military science fiction reader.  So I can’t exactly answer your question, but maybe it will help."

MilSciFi: "Who is your single-most influence in science fiction and what impact have they had on our own work?"

Cooper: "When I was a kid, it was Heinlein.  Later it expanded to include Niven and Clark and Kress and Brin and Bear….and a lot of others.  And of course, Larry Niven had a true and direct impact on my work – he mentored me through the first few stories we wrote together and through our collaborative novel, BUILDING HARLEQUIN’S MOON.  I know I was very lucky, and I just want to make sure and succeed and pay the favor forward sometime."

MilSciFi: "Do you have any awards you would like to tell us about?"

Cooper: "THE SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA won an Endeavor Award, which is for a distinguished Science Fiction or Fantasy book written by a Pacific Northwest author.  That was particularly special because it really is bestowed by readers."

MilSciFi: "Thank you."

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Copyright ©2009 Mike McPhail, All Rights Reserved.
Updates: 01-31-2010


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