13Feb2012: MilSciFi.com interviews Martin Schiller, author of the military
science fiction novel, "Sisterhood of Suns: Pallas Athena"
MilSciFi: "Welcome. Please tell us a little
something about your novel."
Schiller: "Sisterhood" is concept that I
have been working on and refining for the past 34 years. Set 1400 years in the
future, and 1000 years after the MARS plague killed off all human males. Using
advanced genetic engineering and alternative reproductive techniques, 'wominkind'
has not only managed to survive, but the United Sisterhood of Suns is thriving.
It enjoys the most advanced technology and highest standard of life in the Far
But the Sisterhood is constantly faced with threats by its warlike
neighbors, the Hriss, and its own internal intrigue. And to make matters worse,
NeoMen are being integrated into the military.
The first book in a series, "Pallas Athena" centers
around the adventures of a veteran starship commander, a thief and rogue
psychic, the sinister agent of the State intelligence services, the first
NeoMan to be posted with a combat unit, and a young woman who joins the Marines
to avenge her shattered colony and fight the Sisterhood's enemies."
MilSciFi: "Is this part of a large series or
Schiller: "Sisterhood of Suns: Pallas Athena"
is definitely part of a series, and is planned to span three books. It is also
the introduction to a complete universe, with many spin--off possibilities that
are being considered, including a prequel."
MilSciFi: "What inspired you to write this story?"
Schiller: "A dream that I had in 1978. In the
dream, which was especially vivid, I saw a group of ships that I would later
come to know as the Athena and her sister vessels. I went into the largest of
these, and realized that the crew were all women, and commanding them, one of
the main characters. Since then, as I have written the series, more scenes have
come to me as dreams. As crazy as it might sound, I firmly believe that
somewhere in an infinite universe, with infinite possibilities, that the
Sisterhood actually exists, and their struggles are taking place. If anything,
this belief motivates me to tell their story, and document their sacrifices."
MilSciFi: "Does science and technology play
an important role in this story (or in your work in general), or is it
secondary to the story telling and characterization?"
Schiller: "Story telling and characterization
are primary in Sisterhood, and while there is a great deal of 'tech', a
concerted effort was made to make the technology 'reader friendly' wherever
possible. The details are certainly all there, but presented in the most
interesting fashion possible."
MilSciFi: "Do you have plans to expand upon,
or write other works based on this novel?"
Schiller: "Absolutely. The first draft of the
second book "Sisterhood of Suns: Widows War" is almost complete, and
should be finished as of February 2012. The goal is to see it edited and out
for publication by the Fall of 2012. A third book, completing the epic, is
slated to follow after that."
MilSciFi: "Most authors we encounter write
novellas/novels, do you write short stories, and if so do you find it a
Schiller: "I do, and I definitely do write
them. In fact, short stories were the inspiration for me to write books. After
writing them for a number of years, I realized that a full book was really
nothing more than a collection of short stories, renamed 'chapters' that happen
to feature the same characters, and simply continue with their adventures.
Armed with this, I wrote my first real book, "The Surgeon's Daughter"
(unpublished) and went on from there to author other books.
I think that the primary challenge of a short story is its very
length--there is far less time to develop the characters and tell the story,
and this makes it a greater task than and entire epic."
MilSciFi: "Since time is of the essence for
getting a read up to speed in a short story, do you have a strategy, or
preferred method for doing this?"
Schiller: "Jump into the action, weave the 'tech'
in as you go, and make certain that no matter what is going on, that your
characters are as real as you can make them. Take the time, but get it done
MilSciFi: "What advice would you give the
aspiring military science fiction writer?"
Schiller: "Talk to people both in the
military and veterans and encourage them to share their experiences. Research
everything and when you can 'bounce' it off the service--people you are working
with, and remember that despite the era your story is set in, war and the human
experience will always be the same. It doesn't matter if we are talking about a
Roman legionary in Gaul, or a Starship Trooper on the moons of Jupiter--fighting,
losing friends, staying alive (and sane) are all universal to any age."
MilSciFi: "Who is your single--most influence
in science fiction and what impact have they had on our own work?"
Schiller: "There are actually three, and it
wouldn't be fair not to mention them together: Frank Herbert, author of the "Dune"
series, Joe Haldeman author of "The Forever War" and Anne McCaffrey
and her wonderful "Pern" series. Together, they emphasized the need
for a lived--in universe, with real characters and real life experiences. Tech
was certainly important in all of their stories, but it always served as a
backdrop for the people, and what they went through."
MilSciFi: "What is the one thing you find the
most difficult about writing military science fiction?"
Schiller: "Keeping the 'military' in the
equation, and making certain that in addition to this, that the work as a whole
is also good reading."
MilSciFi: "Is military science fiction the
only thing you write, or is there something else out there we should be looking
Schiller: "Yes. I have written other works,
mainly adventure novels set in contemporary times and historical pieces
centered around the ancient world, as well as new age publications, but my
first love is military sci--fi and I plan to stay with that."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any other projects in
Schiller: "Yes. The second and third books in
the series, "Sisterhood of Suns: Widow's War" and "Sisterhood of
Suns: Redemption" A fourth book is also on the table, "Sisterhood of
Suns: Daughters of Darkness"."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any upcoming author
Schiller: "Yes I have supplied Norwescon 2012
with copies of the first book for raffle to their guests, and am soliciting
BlogTalk radio interviews. There are also several bookstores that I am hoping
will host book--signing events. Negotiations are in progress."
MilSciFi: "Thank you for your time."