EXTREMIS Q&A (Part 2)

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EXTREMIS Q&A (Part 2)

Postby Cralis on Thu 31 Mar 2011 01:03

Thank you again to Steve White and Dr. Gannon for taking the time to answer a few questions! Here are the last five questions... including an incredible surprise for STARFIRE fans everywhere! In fact, let's start off with that surprise...

Q6. Are you going to continue to write new stories for the STARFIRE universe?

STEVE WHITE: Interesting you should ask! Charles and I are now in the planning stage for a new two-parter that picks up four or five years after the conclusion of Extremis and develops the highly disturbing possibilities broached at that novel's conclusion.

Q7. What was your favorite part of Extremis?

STEVE WHITE: The offensive by Li Han and Ian Trevayne, climaxing in the former's death. I also enjoyed writing the Tangri segments. I wouldn't go so far as to say I like the Tangri -- in fact, I'm not certain that Tangri mothers like the Tangri -- but for some perverse reason I find them strangely refreshing.

DR. CHARLES GANNON: Towards the end of the book, the character Ossian Wethermere runs out of “clever tricks.” (He’s a real devotee of the Kobiyashi Maru approach to problem solving . . . ) At that point, we get to see if he has the nerve and discipline to keep winning a fight, even when his great strength—cunning—is rendered moot by circumstances. I liked getting the chance to develop that dimension of the character under what can only be described as EXTREMELY trying circumstances.

And the attack for springing Jennifer from captivity—that was just a blast to write. No pun intended.


Q8. What was the hardest part of Extremis to write?

STEVE WHITE: The wrap-up at the end. This was the one and only point at which Charles and I had a genuine disagreement. I wanted the threat which will materialize in the next novel to be left subtly foreshadowed, while he wanted to go beyond this with an ending which made it brutally explicit. I talked him out of the ending he wanted, which will now form a prologue of the next novel.

DR. CHARLES GANNON: Two answers: the first scene where Ossian Wethermere has a solo command. I simultaneously had to impart the sense that this was a pretty new challenge for him—but also, that he was sharp as a tack, innovative, and well able to rise to the occasion. Not like an old pro—but like a very gifted newcomer who had lots of potential. And that had to be braided into a very challenging situation in which a piece of previously undefined Starfire technical background—details on the operation of the reactionless drive—had to be seeded in. Think of a juggler keeping four balls in the air at the same time. That’s how it felt writing that scene.

The next most difficult was the revision of some of the scenes having to do with the explications of Arduan society and psychology. I wrote a lot more than I used. So it needed cutting. And it couldn’t happen in dull “briefing room” sequences: I had to find scenes that allowed me to transmit this information, but as part of a dramatic exchange: a debate, a duel of veiled threats, etc. Finding the right balance of background and dramatic pacing required some careful reshaping, at times.


Q9. Who is your favorite character in Extremis?

STEVE WHITE: Despite my natural fondness for Ian Trevayne, who was the first major character I ever developed for a novel (Insurrection), I would have to say Ossian Wethermere. Charles did a superb job with him.

DR. CHARLES GANNON: Oh, that’s a hard one. Who could NOT put Ian Trevayne on that list? Tank was the kind of character that readers and writers find so congenial and he was always at the pointy part of the action. Ossian Wethermere—invented so that there could be some “worm’s-eye view of naval engagements”—was, obviously, near and dear: Young Ensign Flandry meets Horatio Hornblower. But the character who I got to dive into most deeply, and whose development was as much a process of discovery as it was construction, would undoubtedly be Ankaht. In a very real sense, all the various threads of the story intersect in her. Here’s what I mean:

She is an Arduan, but she is the point of tangible contact—even shared consciousness—with humans. She is also the only person around who remembers Ardu—and her race—before it was compelled to flee into the stars, and consequently changed. Very arguably, she is one of the “last of her kind.” And, being the voice of reason, moderating between the radical Destoshaz’ai nut-jobs on the one hand, and the armed and dangerous humans on the other—well, hers was the most “complicated consciousness” in the book, for me. That made her future, the trajectory of her feelings and thoughts, perpetually uncertain—and yet, she found the right path.
Not all great heroes are great soldiers . . . .


Q10. Did you ever have the chance to play the STARFIRE board game? If so, do you have any thoughts about it?

STEVE WHITE: As I mentioned in answer to Question 2, I am practically a charter member of the STARFIRE-playing club. But I haven't played it -- or done any other gaming, for that matter -- in a number of years. (Who's got the time?) The great thing about this game system is its open-endedness; it isn't locked into a single "snapshot" of a particular point of a particular future history, complete with ready-made technology, ship classes, etc. The STARFIRE system provides an eminently usable, streamlined tool for implementing one's own ideas about the universe's potential development. This, naturally, is highly useful for a novelist.

DR. CHARLES GANNON: Well, no, I ‘ve never had the pleasure—although I pestered Steve to show me a round or two, once! But there wasn’t the opportunity for that—and it had been a while since Steve had the luxury of that kind of spare time. But as I read the (three!) versions of the rules that I devoured before starting to write, I was struck by certain similarities (particularly in the early versions) that reminded me of Traveller’s “High Guard” rules. The primary difference, of course, was that Traveller eschewed plotted movement at that scale of naval engagement—but the data strings, and even some of the tactics, made it feel a little bit like “old times.” (For those who are not aware, I did a *lot* of work for GDW back in the early 90’s, and was the Traveller Editor for Challenge Magazine for about a year and a half).

FINAL NOTE FROM DR. CHARLES GANNON:
Thanks for the opportunity to respond to your questions, and I’m looking forward to getting to know the Starfire gaming community in the years to come! If you see me at a con (or elsewhere) please stop me so we can chat!

I want to express my thanks to Steve White and Dr. Gannon for taking the time to answer these questions. I've
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Re: EXTREMIS Q&A (Part 2)

Postby Cralis on Sat 02 Apr 2011 04:12

I'm surprised nobody has commented on the revelation that TWO!! more STARFIRE books are being planned by Steve & Charles. After years of waiting to see if a new book materializes, we have heard straight from the author that more books are planned!

This is actually pretty exciting to me.
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Re: EXTREMIS Q&A (Part 2)

Postby Otterman on Fri 13 May 2011 11:07

I would like to see their "rules" they used during writing - hull spaces, speeds, etc. for the new classes, and the sizes of the things like Desai drives and other fun toys.
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Re: EXTREMIS Q&A (Part 2)

Postby M_Wadwell on Sat 14 May 2011 02:22

Cralis wrote:I'm surprised nobody has commented on the revelation that TWO!! more STARFIRE books are being planned by Steve & Charles. After years of waiting to see if a new book materializes, we have heard straight from the author that more books are planned!

This is actually pretty exciting to me.


I've just cross-posted your announcement on the Aurora board which contains a majority of Starfire fiction - so let's wait and see what interest is generated.....

Later,
Matt
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Re: EXTREMIS Q&A (Part 2)

Postby Cralis on Sat 14 May 2011 04:16

Thank you Matt, I'm pretty sure that all the old-timers will be interested in hearing that. If you'd also be willing, tomorrow (the 15th) I'm also going to be making a mass announcement that I'm sure will interest all STARFIRE players. : )
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Re: EXTREMIS Q&A (Part 2)

Postby procyon on Sat 14 May 2011 05:02

I so hate cliffhangers...
The waiting....
:D
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: EXTREMIS Q&A (Part 2)

Postby M_Wadwell on Mon 16 May 2011 06:32

procyon wrote:I so hate cliffhangers...
The waiting....
:D


HA!

You ever read any of your own stories..... (Mutter mutter) Talk about cliffhangers!

Later,
Matt
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