Allen M. Steele on “Apache Charley and the Pentagons of Hex”

Hex by Allen Steele
Hex by Allen Steele

Q: Tell us about your story in Bridging Infinity?

“Apache Charley and the Pentagons of Hex” is set in the expanded universe of the Coyote series, which are novels and stories that take place elsewhere in the galaxy besides the 47 Ursae Majoris system but share the same background. In this instance, it’s a story taking place on Hex, a not-quite Dyson sphere that I previously explored in a novel of the same title.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your story?

After Hex was published, a couple of readers pointed out a design flaw in my not-quite Dyson sphere: a sphere comprised if trillions of hexagons (i.e. six-sided circles) would need a few pentagons (i.e. eight-sided circles) here and there in order for the whole thing to fit together, even if the sphere is 2 a.u. in diameter. One of these readers, a fellow I met at a SF convention, then told me exactly where those pentagons would geometrically be located, and this intrigued me. What if someone noticed these locations, thought there was something special about them, and went out to discover what it was?

The Hex Star System

Q: What do you believe makes a good science fiction story?

An often overlooked quality of a good SF story is its verisimilitude, the impression made upon the reader that it could actually occur. No matter how wild or bizarre the concept may be, the author has to make it seem realistic enough that the reader will believe in the story enough to enjoy it. So the stranger the concept, the harder the author has to work to create that verisimilitude and yet keep the story from getting bogged down in details. It can be a real challenge, but that’s why I like to write the sort of SF that I do.

Q: What are you working on now? And if people like your story in the book, what other work of yours should they seek out?

I’m reluctant to discuss what I’ve just begun working on, other than it’s an effort to bridge hard-SF and fantasy in that sort of realistic manner I’ve just described. If people like my story in this collection, they’ll probably like Hex, too (not to mention Coyote and the other novels in the series).

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