05-01-2009: MilSciFi.com interviews Brenda Cooper, author of the military
science fiction series The Silver
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
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
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
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
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
author. That was particularly special because it really is bestowed by
MilSciFi: "Thank you."