WHO ARE THE KINDLE ALL-STARS?
A series of 20+ short interviews with the team behind the Kindle All-Stars short story anthology ‘Resistance Front’ posted daily in the run up to its publication.
Please be sure to check any relevant images and links for each individual at the end of their interview.
Today I talk to Alan Dean Foster. You can see my previous interview with Alan HERE
Hello Alan. Thanks for agreeing to this quick interview. Firstly, thank you for joining the project. It means so much to so many of us involved in the Kindle All-Stars anthology that you are contributing to it. We’ve all grown up reading your work and enjoying it – – and now we get to be involved in something alongside you!
ADF: It’s my pleasure. Giving back to worthy causes is a better measure of a human being than just about anything else.
You’ve appeared in a fair number of anthologies over the years. Do you think the short story is a dying breed? Or do you think it’s just finding itself a new habitat?
ADF: It’s a whole new world out there, short story-wise. Maybe not yet the heyday of the pulps back in the ‘30’s, but with the advent of on-line publishing there are multitudinous opportunities that never existed before that short story writers can access. I put up a novella, BOX OF OXEN, via Kindle publishing that no genre publisher would touch. Only grossed a couple of hundred bucks so far, but the little checks keep coming and more importantly, the work stays “in print”. It’s a fascinating time to be writing short fiction.
I know from visiting your site over the years that you’re always at work on something, whether its an original novel or a novelisation. How often do you write short fiction, and do you do it more or less than you used to?
ADF: It all depends on someone asking me for a story. I love a challenge, and themed anthologies are always fun to contribute to. Occasionally, but only occasionally, I’ll write something just for myself…like the Mad Amos Malone stories, two of which recently appeared in the magazine of Fantasy & Science-Fiction. I love writing shorts.
Your story is called ‘Redundancy’. Is it a story you wrote before hearing of the Kindle All-Stars or did you write it especially for the project?
ADF: REDUNDANCY originally was commissioned for an issue of an in-house computer magazine designed to focus on a specific kind of artificial intelligence.
Without giving too much away, what’s the story about?
ADF: How a machine intelligence might logically reach a beneficial conclusion without the benefit of being specifically programmed to do so.
And what gave you the ideas behind the story?
ADF: As I said, it was a specific commission intended to address a fairly narrow topic. That it has appeal beyond that is very gratifying.
Harlan Ellison is also involved in the project. Have you ever met Harlan? He certainly comes across as a big personality… is he like that in real life?
ADF: I first met Harlan in 1969 when I was a grad student at UCLA and trying to sell stories. David Gerrold was putting together a couple of anthologies. I submitted one to David called SILENT SONGS IN STONE. David couldn’t use it but thought it might be suitable for a little anthology Harlan was putting together called DANGEROUS VISIONS. So I moseyed up to Harlan’s house and handed him the story. He loved the ending but hated the story itself. Would I be interested in rewriting it while taking into account some suggestions of his? I said that I would, and proceeded to do three revisions, none of which made the grade. I then sent the story to John W. Campbell at Analog, who had published my first story. Campbell loved the story but hated the ending. Very valuable lesson there for a young writer. Over the decades Harlan and I occasionally throw things like classical music suggestions at one another. I believe he has stopped calling me “kid”. This is sad, as I have now missed any opportunity to call him “pops” or “old-timer”.
Last time I spoke to you, your fantasy novel Madrenga was finished. Have you sent it off yet? Has it got picked up?
ADF: It’s off, it’s being read. News at eleven.
Before I go, are there any developments on your Oshanurth Trilogy? I’ve been hearing about it for a long time via your site. I loved Cachalot when I read it, and can’t wait to see what you do with a story set in the water again.
ADF: Same situation as MADRENGA.
This last question might be a bit tricky for you Alan. It’s a bit of a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ type question, but if you were going to recommend one of your books or series to a Kindle All-Star reader whose never read your work before… which one would you choose as a starting point?
ADF: MIDWORLD. Not too long, 100% me. For something more recent, SAGRAMANDA. And any of the short story collections.
Well that’s it Alan! I don’t want to take up too much of your time as I know you’re a very busy man. Hopefully we will chat again soon!