As the winner of five Hugos (and nominated for thirty-one more), Mike Resnick is a name every genre fiction fan should know. His Kirinyaga series, with sixty-seven major and minor awards and nominations to date, is the most honored series of stories in the history of science fiction. Resnick published his first book with Pyr, Starship: Mutiny, ten years ago in our inaugural year, and a decade later he began a new series with the recently released The Fortress in Orion. With sixteen Pyr books in his catalog, and three with our sister imprint Seventh Street Books, we thought we'd ask him a few questions about the past and future of the science fiction and fantasy genre.
Pyr: What drew you to speculative fiction? What are some of the earliest books or stories you remember reading that made you want to write in the genre?
Resnick: It started with Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars books when I was 8 or 9 years old. I'd graduated to Ray Bradbury's Mars by the time I was 12, and I read every science fiction book I could get my hands on while I was in high school. Its speculations fascinated me, and made almost all other fiction seem somehow lackluster and pedestrian. (Not a view I no longer hold, I should add. But in my formative years, there was science fiction and there was everything else.)
I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I sold my first article at 15, my first poem at 16, my first short story at 17...but back then I knew I had to get a lot better before I attempted to write and sell science fiction, so I didn't sell my first science fiction book (not a very good one, I admit) when I was 24.
It is interesting that your first series with Pyr (the Starship series) was a space opera, and ten years later you begin a new space opera series with The Fortress in Orion. Where were you as a writer ten years ago and where do you see your career headed now?
In both cases -- as well as the Weird Western tetralogy that split them -- (former Pyr editorial director) Lou Anders suggested I write these series. In the case of the Starship series, I'd never done any military science fiction—and indeed, this was not very typical of that sub-genre, since it was and is my firm belief that a good commanded avoids conflict whenever possible. The current Dead Enders trilogy is very like Mission: Impossible (the old TV series, not the Tom Cruise movies) where a team of experts, each with a special talent, is given a complex and dangerous situation to solve.
You have to understand: I've been a full-time and reasonably successful science fiction writer for about 40 years, and was winning awards for it as far back as 1977, so I'd have to say that 75 novels and close to 300 stories into my career, I may be revisiting and honing certain themes, doing variations on them, but brand-new themes are not emerging (though brand-new approaches still are). Like every writer, every time I get an interesting notion it goes into my idea file, where some 200+ stories and books are still waiting for me to find the time to write them.
How has science fiction as a genre changed over 10 years? What do you see on the horizons for SF?
In the mid-1950s there were 56 professional science fiction magazines, and less than 100 science fiction books were published annually. These days we have 3 digest magazines and we publish about 1,500 books a year. So the major change is obvious: we have morphed from a short story field which boasted the occasional novel to a novel field that has a much more limited market for short stories.
That's artistically. Professionally, more and more writers—new and established alike—and are finding workable and meaningful ways to self-publish and make a living at it, which was never possible as recently as ten years ago.
Thank you to Mike Resnick for that insight!
Last week we announced a giveaway with our Women of Writing round up, and a winner has officially been chosen. Congrats to Cynthia Carter on wining a copy of Edge of Dark! This Friday we'll have another giveaway to continue our 10th anniversary celebration.