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?

Hex
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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Karin Lowachee on “Ozymandias”

The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee
The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee

Q: Tell us about your story in Bridging Infinity?

The concept of the anthology intrigued me, but to be honest I cycled through a handful of ideas before settling on the one that became Ozymandias. The title refers to the sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of my favorites since I was young, because of the theme of inevitable collapse or destruction that follows some great creation. At the center of the story is a n’er-do-well named Luis Estrada and the AI SIFU who occupy a giant “light station” in space, which is essentially like a lighthouse in the cosmos, albeit military owned. Hijinks ensue.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your story?

I thought of the enormity and isolation of something that would essentially be a beacon and replenishment depot for military convoys in space. It would be mostly run by an AI, but for redundancy purposes, entail a human live-in engineer. As Luis came alive on the page, I realized I wanted a more light-hearted approach – a character who is not in awe of any feat of engineering, but would rather just make a buck. He would be the perfect point-of-view to kind of de-romanticize these massive creations that humanity tends to take such pride in. I wanted to explore the concept of destruction, the fact that things built by hand (or robots) can still be taken down. We shouldn’t get too cocky about our achievements.

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

To me, science fiction is a genre of ideas, metaphor, exploration. It’s a boundless genre with the potential for great depth – of both emotion and concept. Everything from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series can be folded under the umbrella of science fiction. This is why I love writing in the genre. It can take any number of avenues – some people are deft at exploring the scientific side, others the psychological or sociological. Ideally, for me, there’s some combination of a few facets. Science fiction is a literary thought experiment that writers pursue to some sort of conclusion.

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?

“Ozymandias” takes place in the same universe as my Warchild science fiction series, albeit in an earlier era. The tone is a little different from the series but it’s essentially the same style. I just wanted to toss in another note to the world I’d created in the book series. I’m currently writing the fourth novel in that series, as well as other projects that will hopefully take flight before too long.

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Kristine Kathryn Rusch on “The City’s Edge”

Diving Into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Diving Into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Q: Tell us about your story in Bridging Infinity?

“The City’s Edge” focuses on a failed engineering project—one that was on track, and then disappeared in the dead of night. There’s more than one gigantic engineering piece in this story, which made it fun to write.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your story?

When I received the anthology invitation, I decided not to write a story in my usual sf universes (Diving and the Retrieval Artist). The stories would’ve been too long, for one thing, and for another, I have loyalty to Asimov’s which usually publishes those first. However, that tied me up in serious knots. How do I write about a major sf engineering project without reaching into my usual sources.

I’m not really a near-future kind of hard sf writer, although I thought about doing something. I couldn’t find the hook. So, I read a few books on historical projects and something in a book on the New York subway system caught me—all the started and failed parts of the project. I realized I’d been looking at this wrong. Projects work after a lot of failure. That led me to my character, which led me to the story.

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

Characters, setting, emotion. We writers need to take our readers on a vacation to a place they’ve never seen before and will never see in their lifetime (we hope, in some cases). We always remember the characters more than the idea of an sf story, because we’re social creatures. We get our information from each other, and our stories too.

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?

Over the last few years, I expanded my Retrieval Artist universe with the Anniversary Day saga. That large project made me ignore the Diving Universe, so I headed back to that with a vengeance. The Falls, a standalone novel in the Diving Universe, just appeared, and another novel will appear in that universe next year. I’m still not done, though, and I’m currently writing about yet another group of characters in that large setting. And that doesn’t count all the editing I’m doing for Fiction River or some of the other editing projects on the hopper. Plus, I have a mystery coming out next year under my Kris Nelscott pen name, and I’m catching up on short fiction after too long a hiatus….

Back to your question, though, what should readers pick up? My Diving Universe books will probably appeal to the folks who like this book. Start with Diving Into The Wreck or pick up The Diving Bundle, which is a group of collected novellas, and go from there.

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Thoraiya Dyer on “Induction”

Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer
Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer

Q: Tell us about your story in Bridging Infinity?

Rising sea levels threaten Anguilla, but businessmen can always make a buck. It’s up to an ex-astronaut to save the ordinary people from his half-brother if he can. With the help of an engineer. From the depths of a shaft drilled the full thickness of Earth’s crust.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your story?

A combination of: Journal articles on Russian and Icelandic deep-drilling efforts, and wondering why they didn’t drill where the crust was thinnest. Renewable energy research. Alzheimer’s disease striking my friends and family. A chance encounter with someone who grew up on Groote Eylandt.

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

Good balance between storytelling craft and rigorous extrapolation of scientific discovery/application/societal impact.

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 working on Book 2 of my fantasy trilogy, “Echoes of Understorey”. If people like the characters in my story, they can buy Book 1 in January 2017,”Crossroads of Canopy. If short stories are preferred, my 4-story collection Asymmetry is about 50/50 science fiction and fantasy. If only science fiction will do, my story “Going Viral,” in Issue 8 of free online magazine Dimension 6 from Coeur de Lion, follows a brother and sister battling both tradition and an engineered rabies outbreak on an alternate-history Sumatra.

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Places to buy Bridging Infinity

Bridging Infinity

There are many great booksellers out there who can help you get your copy of Bridging Infinity. Here are some that might be near you!

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