On Thursday May 9, Speculating Canada will be interviewing James Alan Gardner. Gardner is the author of The League of People’s Universe novels Expendable, Commitment Hour, Vigilant, Hunted, Ascending, Trapped, and Radiant. I first encountered James Alan Gardner through the recommendation of Alissa Paxton (who has co-hosted several Speculating Canada programmed on Trent Radio). She had recommended Mr. Gardner as an author who would interest me because of my research on portrayals of disability in Canadian SF.
I was very lucky that Mr. Gardner was willing to do an interview and share his thoughts with readers. Check out our interview on May 9 and read about James Alan Gardner’s insights on the power of SF to open things to questions, trying to do SF that hasn’t been done before, the development of character voices, relationships between characters and power relationships, the difference in Canadian SF, and the figure of the alien.
Here are a few teasers from the upcoming interview:
James Alan Gardner: “Science Fiction is always based on the question, ‘What would happen if things were different?’”
James Alan Gardner: “The whole premise of SF is that the status quo is impermanent: it hasn’t always been what it is today, and it won’t be the same in future.”
James Alan Gardner: “The whole idea of the League of Peoples comes out of a desire not to do warring interstellar societies. War in space is so old hat. How could I do space adventure stories without war? So I invented a universe where interstellar war was absolutely impossible. Then I followed all the implications to see what would happen.”
James Alan Gardner: “Recently, John Scalzi has come up with a great way of expressing something I was talking about in Expendable. Scalzi said that being a straight white (non-disabled) male is like playing video games on the easiest setting. It’s not that life is problem-free, but that the bar you have to clear is lower. An ongoing issue in the League of Peoples stories is that Explorers are better prepared to deal with the unknown because they’ve faced more adversity than most of the other people in their time.”
James Alan Gardner: “Every character is a collection of blind-spots, and that stops them from being able to tell certain types of stories.”
James Alan Gardner: “I went into Vigilant wanting to write about a democracy. Too often, SF shows future societies that are monarchies or oligarchies; I wanted to write about a real democracy with institutions designed to keep it working well. This led to an interest in the relationship of individuals to groups…so it was a short step to making group marriage the standard family form. It’s more social, less claustrophobic.”
James Alan Gardner: “I hope my readers enjoy spending time with the characters. I also hope I’ve given people things to think about that they haven’t seen before.”
James Alan Gardner: “Science fiction and fantasy can deal with the world being changed to an extent that doesn’t happen in other branches of literature.”
I hope that you enjoy this conversation with Mr. Gardner as much as I did. The questions and ideas he brought up stimulate excellent discussion. Check out the full interview on May 9th.
If you have not yet had a chance to explore James Alan Gardner’s books, they are available in ebook format from his website at http://www.thinkage.ca/~jim/english/index.shtml