09-27-07: MilSciFi.com interviews Robert Greenberger author and editor
of numerous Star Trek novels and anthologies and the military science fiction
MilSciFi: "Welcome. What is it like writing
tie-in novels for a series that has become a cultural icon?"
Greenberger: "First of all, having grown up with
most of these media properties, itís an absolute thrill and honor to be allowed
to play in these particular sandboxes. That weíre being allowed to do
original stories and not just adaptations is a bonus."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any upcoming projects
in the Star Trek universe?"
Greenberger: "Iím well into writing book five of
a six part eBook mini-series that is part of Pocket Booksí salute to Star trek:
The Next Generationís 20th anniversary. The overall title for
the event is Slings & Arrows. My one contribution is entitled A Weary
Life. The focus of the mini-series is on Picard and company aboard the
Enterprise-E during that critical first year. In the films, we first see
the E in Star Trek: First Contact weíre told they were aboard for a year
already so we wondered, what occurred during that period? My particular
focus will be on a mission involving Riker and the Maquis. Itíll be out
in the first quarter of 2008."
MilSciFi: "What would your ideal project be
if you could plan your own anthology?"
Greenberger: "Great question. Iíve never
imagined my very own original anthology so let me think."
MilSciFi: "What other upcoming works are on
the horizon for you?"
Greenberger: "Speaking of anthologies, I have
three short stories completed for Moonstone Books. Again, theyíre all
media tie-ins and focus on classic adventures characters. Should their
recently released Phantom book do well, I have a story in and approved for the
second volume. I have also contributed stories to their forthcoming Tales
of Zorro and 2008ís Captain Midnight. Beyond that, I have pitches out to
people and a completely written project I cannot discuss as yet because the
publisher has yet to release the news themselves."
MilSciFi: "How would you describe your
experience working on the Star Trek books?"
Greenberger: "No two projects in the Star Trek
universe have been the same, partly given that some were collaborations and
some were solo; some were short stories and some were novels. And of
course there are all the different franchises and time periods. My
relationships with the various Pocket Book editors, from Kevin Ryan to John
Ordover to Marco Palmieri and to Keith DeCandido have all been strong and positive.
Paula Block at CBS Consumer Products and I are old friends from way back which
makes the give and take very comfortable.
There days there are so many authors, most of whom have become
good friends, that we often kibbutz back and forth, supporting one another."
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?"
Greenberger: "For what feels like five years
now, Iíve had two original novels kicking around in my head. The theme to
the mainstream one has to do with how college really doesnít prepare you for
the real world and the other is an urban fantasy that is about halfway
outlined. I also have one or two ideas that could make interesting books
but see them more as movies; however, I donít think I have the facility for
screenplays so they just rattle around my head."
MilSciFi: "What is your favorite story/novel
you have ever written and why?"
Greenberger: "Oddly, I donít think I have a
favorite single piece of work. I remain amazed at authors who can quote
their works from memory going back through the years."
MilSciFi: "What are you working on next?"
Greenberger: "After I complete A Weary Life, I
have some short essays for a non-fiction anthology and then Iím waiting to hear
back on pitches that editors are reviewing. I have some open call
anthologies to write for. Ideally, Iíll get something approved and
someone will also reach out with an offer for something."
MilSciFi: "Give us the details on your
upcoming author appearances."
Greenberger: "Right now, I have nothing booked
between now and Farpoint next February in Baltimore. That may change depending on my
day job status."
MilSciFi: "What advice would you give the
aspiring military science fiction or franchise writer?"
Greenberger: "Do your homework. The
military stuff is tricky because you have fans of the properties or the era or
the ordinance and you have to get the hardware and science down. There
will be those who love all war all the time and could care less about the
characters Ė if thatís what you like to write, only pitch to those lines.
If you like character mixed in, that sends you down different avenues and you
need to know the difference.
If youíre creating your own military SF world, make certain there
is something that sets it apart from what else is readily available. Make
it your own, not just a David Weber knockoff."
MilSciFi: "Who is your single-most influence
in science fiction and what impact have they had on our own work?"
Greenberger: "Another good question. The
first real adult SF I read was Isaac Asimov and thereís a sparseness to my own
writing that may have come from him although we write nothing alike."
MilSciFi: "What is the one thing you find the
most difficult about writing military science fiction?"
Greenberger: "Military SF is a tough category in
that you need to work with tech and people and usually choreographing battles
or campaigns. Itís less about theme and character development and more
about the nature of war (on a planet, in space, in virtual reality). When
I wrote two stories for Keith Laumerís Bolo Universe (one saw print),
each generation of Bolo had different capabilities and they were tough to
keep track of so I went more for a character and technology approach and a
little less about the war itself.
The BattleTech story I did two years ago for Loren Coleman (may he
one day edit and pay for it) was even tougher given the scope of the BattleTech
universe. Again, it was trying to find a way to tell a story about
character inspired by the technology or the battles."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any awards you would
like to tell us about?"
Greenberger: "As a writer, I have never been
nominated. I guess Iím a mid-list journeyman sort who entertains and I
can live with that."
MilSciFi: "Do you have a website where our
readers can go to fine more information about your work?"
Greenberger: "I tend to blog 4-5 times a week at
At some point, I intend to evolve the site to be more robust, with
bibliography, appearance calendar and the like. Come visit, I donít bite."
MilSciFi: "Do you write under any other
Greenberger: "Twice Iíve written under house
names. First, I was one of the many Xavier Einsteins for Zebra Booksí
Trivia Mania line of books. I did the one on comic books and comic strips
in 1984. The second was a few years later when Ace released three books in a
nascent series that failed to sell. It was called Time Station and mine
was set in Berlin and was written under a very tight deadline and really isnít
very good, under-researched and in need of more plot."
MilSciFi: "Is military science fiction the
only thing you write, or is there something else out there we should be looking
Greenberger: "I have written a small number of
original SF and Fantasy short stories that go beyond your traditional
definition of military SF. One, for an anthology called Mob Magic, had a
world and set of characters and writing style that I look forward to getting
back to. Should the fall be a fallow one, thatís my first port of call.
Iíve also written 14 or so non-fiction young adult books for Rosen
Books, part of a series of titles sold as sets to libraries, both public and
school. They range from the Nature of Energy to the History of Pakistan
to biographies of Lou Gehrig and Will Eisner. Those are all fun and
appeal to the historian in me.
I continue to write articles, essays and interviews for other
publications such as Marvel Spotlight and ComicMix.com plus uncredited work for
I certainly know how to stay busy."