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Nancy Fulda's, Godshift

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MilSciFi.com interviews Nancy Fulda, Dark Expanse: Surviving The Collapse

Nancy Fulda
DARK EXPANSE:
SURVIVING THE COLLAPSE

Castles In The Sky


10-28-2014: MilSciFi.com interviews Nancy Fulda, contributor to the anthology Dark Expanse: Surviving The Collapse, author of the short story Castles in the Sky.

MilSciFi: Welcome. Please tell us a little something about your story.

Fulda: Castles in the Sky took its name from one of the intro images on the Dark Expanse web site. The Dark Expanse artwork is fantastic evocative and stunningly rendered, with enough realism to feel grounded and enough artistic license to feel exciting. One of the images on the main page shows an *orbital defense base, comparing it in function to the defensive capabilities of a medieval castle.

I was intrigued. I decided to write a story about an orbital fortress, a place of refuge for the conflict-battered survivors of a doomed planet. The characters of Gemina, Mace, and the mysterious Chitter named Slicer all emerged from that starting point.

MilSciFi: Since this was a shared universe project, just how much freedom did you have in your story concept and/or character development?

Fulda: Tons. The story possibilities within a shared universe are endless, and I'm fascinated by the individual stories of the Dark Expanse universe's residents.

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?

Fulda: I don't believe that technology and characterization necessarily exist in isolation. An intriguing science fiction story doesn't emerge solely from the character or solely from the technology, but from the interactions between the two.

In Castles in the Sky, Gemina is trapped on a world that's doomed to extinction. That situation was created by technology, and it has a profound effect on her character. Her subsequent decisions shape the kinds of technology encountered in the story, and the degree to which that technology takes center stage.

MilSciFi: Do you have plans to expand upon, or write other works based on this short story?

Fulda: Possibly. Gemina actually turns up in one of the other stories in the Dark Expanse anthology, although I'm not sure how many readers noticed that. She's far from her planet of origin and acting under a different name, but if you look closely you can see how her early experiences shaped her personality. There's a lot of complexity to unearth there, although I'm not sure whether I'll have the opportunity to go digging anytime soon.

MilSciFi: Most authors we encounter write novellas/novels, do you write short stories, and if so do you find it a challenge?

Fulda: I've always written short stories. They come naturally to me, as a compact way to explore a focused event in space and time. I enjoy the format and especially enjoy the chance to hop from topic to topic. In many ways, short fiction is easier for me to write than novels or novellas. It's easier to keep the entire arc of the story in your head; easier to see the patterns that shape the characters and make their stories resonate.

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?

Fulda: The reader needs to get settled in the mind and heart of the character as quickly as possible. Stunning action sequences, complex world-building, and detailed backstory are all secondary, because none of that stuff means anything until the reader has a character to empathize with.

That's not to say you can't start with an action sequence. Pyrotechnics are awesome, and who doesn't enjoy watching space ships explode? But if you become so enthralled with what's happening outside, in the physical world, that you neglect the inner landscape of the characters, then you're going to lose the attention of the typical reader.

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

Fulda: Leverage the knowledge you've attained in other aspects of life. If you have a background in science and academia, don't be afraid to let that influence your writing. If you are an avid Starcraft gamer, go ahead and deal with concepts related to strategy, troop allocation, and resource management. Real life combat experience? Bring it on! No real life combat experience? Don't panic you have other skills that can help bring your fiction to life.

MilSciFi: Do you think there is any advantage to having your work in an anthology?

Fulda: Oh, absolutely. One of the most difficult aspects of placing short fiction involves helping it find its way to the right readers. Readers always come to a story with a set of expectations, and if those expectations aren't fulfilled they're going to dislike the story, regardless of how well-constructed it is.

Anthologies and especially themed anthologies create a context for the story. When a reader picks up the Dark Expanse anthology, I know she's interested in action, technology, armed conflict, cool aliens, and the effects all of those have on individual characters. Those are expectations I can fulfill, and if the story's being written on commission, I can do so without having to stop to establish the story's genre, cultural context, and fundamental assumptions at the outset.

With the Dark Expanse anthology, for example, I didn't have to weigh the story down with convoluted explanations of the Zyxlar or of the other sentient races in the game universe. I could assume that readers either already knew that stuff, or would be able to pick it up over the course of the anthology. I didn't have to answer all the questions within my allotment of 4500 words, and I think the narrative reads more powerfully because of it.

MilSciFi: Who is your single-most influential author in science fiction, and what impact did that have on our own work?

Fulda: Lois McMaster Bujold. I discovered the Vorkosigan series when I was in my early twenties, and I just gobbled it up. I loved the way she kept the stories exciting while still taking time to explore what was happening at a human and interpersonal level. Also, it was just a joy to watch Miles keep screwing everything up.

MilSciFi: Is military science fiction the only thing you write, or is there something else out there we should be looking for?

Fulda: I write everything from military fantasy to epic space opera, but readers at this web site would probably be most interested in my *hard science fiction. I have an academic background in computer science and artificial intelligence, and it shows.

MilSciFi: Do you have any other projects in the works?

Fulda: I'm finishing revisions on a novel involving giant lizards, rampant windstorms, and a malevolent group of technocrats willing to let humanity die in order to save their own skins. Anyone who wants to be notified once it's finished can sign up for the low-volume mailing list at my web site.

MilSciFi: We thank you for your time.
 


Nancy Fulda's website is:
 
http://www.nancyfulda.com


 

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Solicited by Author / MilSciFi.com with no compensation.

 

Copyright 2014 Mike McPhail, All Rights Reserved

 

The views contained in this interview are those of the author, and
do not necessarily represent the views of MilSciFi.com.