An Interview With Christopher Stasheff – By Cedar Sanderson

I made my first professional appearance at Millennicon this weekend. In between panels, walking through the halls, I happened to glance at the name tag of a passing man. I did a doubletake, then caught my First Reader, who was serving as my escort, and brought him back to where the gentleman was now standing looking at the table of bookmarks and promotional goodies. It was Christopher Stasheff, who I knew was my First Reader’s favorite fantasy author, and neither of us had any idea he would be at the convention. Nor, as it turns out, had the concom; he had decided to attend with his son on the spur of the moment. We chatted briefly, and after I got home and was talking online about meeting this living legend, I came up with the idea of asking him for an interview. 
You see, while we were chatting that first time, he had responded to my question of “are you still writing?” with “yes, but no one is buying.” He went on to tell us that his son has set up a website for him <http://www.christopher.stasheff.com> and they are beginning to release both his recent work, in snippets, and past work which has reverted to him. I’d instantly thought of doing a review and promo push on my personal blog, and then Sarah graciously offered to host it on her blog as well. 
It seems that despite the man’s fame – my First Reader wasn’t the only fan to light up and rush to meet him, I noticed, and the online reactions were enthusiastic – that editors are turning him down. Why? Well, as we talked to his son Edward Stasheff, he offered his thought that part of it may be that although when Stasheff began his career in the 1960’s, he was considered a feminist writer, he is now considered old school. I know from my personal observations that in the last twenty years for certain, the borders of that movement changed, from seeking equality to supremacy, and Stasheff’s work most likely became not enough ‘me-female-me-first’ for the bossy sorts. I am hoping that we can assure Chris Stasheff – as the concom did, in asking him to please return next year as a guest – that he is still honored for his body of work. 
I was tickled, nervous, and delighted to sit with him in a noisy hotel lobby and talk with this lovely man. He made me feel at ease, as though I were a friend he had just met. When I was transcribing the interview, I realized that we share initials, and so I have referred to the alternating QA format with first names, an informality I hope he forgives. 
 
Christopher Stasheff: Well, you know I write fantasy, science fiction, a fusion of both, right?
Cedar Sanderson: Why don’t we start from there? What made you decide to write that?
Chris: I wrote what I wanted to write. I didn’t think I could sell it. But by then, fandom was into the second generation, and they were becoming editors. It goes in cycles, writers, then editors, then back to writers again. Lester Del Rey had been an editor, and would be again, but I got lucky, he was in a fallow spot and was being a critic. He reviewed The Warlock in Spite of Himself.
In the very first sentence of his review, he said it was the worst title ever. My heart sank, I was sure my career was over and it had just begun. But then in the second sentence, he said ‘but somehow Stasheff makes it work.” And then, at the end of the review, he said I’d left it open for a sequel, and that he hoped I would write one. So I did.
Cedar: So what are you working on currently?
Chris: I am using the Voltaire system, and working on three projects. He had a study with seven desks in it, and he would come in in the morning, look around, and decide which suited him today. I do that, only with disks… well, disks are so old-fashioned now! But you know what I mean. I do what I feel like working on.
I have two that are finished, but I haven’t been able to sell them yet, so I am rewriting them. The fourth Starship Troupers book is one of them. The Frog in the Grog is another. It’s about a village wizard, he’s so overworked, and he just can’t get away from all these people with their penny-ante problems. He wants a vacation. So he changes himself into a frog, because who talks to frogs? But just then a fad for frog-legs sweeps the kingdom, and the wizard realizes he’s trapped, because he can’t cast a spell when he can only croak. And of course there is an evil duke usurping the throne, a young boy trying to make good, and a girl who is willing to defy the bad king.
I’m also working on the Asteroid War, it’s a territory fight for the mining asteroids. I based it on the Lincoln County War in New Mexico. I’ve wanted to tell this story for twenty years, and just didn’t have time. Now that I do…
I’m also working on the final volume in the Wizard in Rhyme series <http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/AWizardInRhyme?from=Main.AWizardInRhyme>, just ideas, right now. I may use three-fourths of the ideas in the final book. Someone is gathering all the bad guys from all the books, and the good guys need a cause to band them together, but they are terribly outnumbered, so they retreat to the Alps. Mantrell, my hero, calls upon his ancestor, King Hardishane, who wakens from his enchanted slumber and rides forth with the paladins… the good guys win, of course, but I haven’t yet decided how.
Cedar: I know we had talked before about how you aren’t selling to publishers, and you told me your son was helping you release books independently. What titles are out there that I can point your readers to?
Chris: Well, there are chapters on my website. I know he has taken two where the rights reverted and made them available through Createspace. A Warlock in Spite of Himself <http://www.amazon.com/The-Warlock-Spite-Himself-Gramarye-ebook/dp/B0047O2RHY/ref>, and A Wizard in Bedlam<http://www.amazon.com/Wizard-Bedlam-Chronicles-Rogue-ebook/dp/B009G4IYG8/ref?tag=>. He is also writing fan-fiction, you know, but with my permission. He found a hole in the Wizard in Rhyme series, where I brought on stage a young apprentice, but didn’t give him a back story. So Edward is writing about him, in Apprentice Required. He’s also writing a book about capitalist cats. I wish he would hurry up and finish it, so I could read all of it.
You know cats are capitalist, right? Dogs are happy to serve, but cats want to live the good life.
Cedar (laughing): We are the cat’s staff, I think.
Chris: I grew up with dogs, my wife introduced me to cats. They have a very different attitude to life than dogs do.
Cedar: Thank you so much for sitting down with me.
Chris: Thank you for wanting to talk to me, young lady.
UPDATE from Sarah: A couple of minor corrections, from Edward Stasheff, Christopher’s son.  I understand that the lobby was very noisy when Cedar conducted the interview:
There are two minor details I do need to correct in your interview, though –

(1) We’ve released seven of his backlist novels as ebooks independently, but on Amazon (among others), not CreateSpace (for complicated legal reasons that are too boring to go into, he has the electronic rights, but not the print rights).

(2) The fan fiction story is “The Apprentice Wizard,” not “Apprentice Required”.

191 thoughts on “An Interview With Christopher Stasheff – By Cedar Sanderson

  1. When I was in college, Stasheff’s books were on my “if the library has one I haven’t read, snag it immediately” list. (I didn’t have the budget yet for a to-buy list.) Glad to hear he may be starting to put his works back up in ebook form; I’ll be able to finally send some well-deserved money his way!

  2. A friend of mine, who goes by the handle of Quilly Mammoth, pointed out that Stasheff has clear religious themes and examines them in the light of fantasy worlds in some of hie books. Being an open Catholic may very well be part of his problem with publishers today. After all Christian themes are not acceptable to a large segment of the publishing world today.
    (Note, I am agnostic myself and enjoyed his exploration of these themes)

    1. CORRECTION. In my mind I thought Brad Handley and then attributed the remark to Quilly Mammoth. My apologies to both gentlemen

    2. What does one of his author notes say– “I was complaining about how all the fantasy was stripped of religion, utterly ignoring that people lived and breathed it and it formed their world view– then realized that meant I was trapped into doing a more realistic treatment myself!”

      1. I hadn’t noticed what books are doing *right now* but about the time I first encountered Science Fiction it seemed to have a couple of really strong “message” things… and that was removing all religious faith or else portraying it as uniformly bad. It wasn’t that long ago I read the Pern prequel (or at least the book about the first settlers) and it had a “thing” about how the new and better world the colonists would build was one without religion. Author’s choice, of course, but I thought… wouldn’t work that way. By the second generation you’d have neo-somesuches making something up.

        It seemed, for a while, that SF had gotten over this a little bit… or maybe only David Weber did, who knows? I’m not that widely read. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear that this is a “thing” again.

        (The other “it wouldn’t work that way” reaction I had to SF as I first encountered it was women letting a settlement/community die because they refused to bear children and this presented as a principled stand. But hey, it was SF, maybe they weren’t human?)

        1. Right up there with “the colonies have five hundred to one ratios of women to men, because that works great.”

          Even with technology, and ignoring the genetic problems, that would make for a really sick culture.

              1. Wasn’t there a series back in the 1980s that posited an invasion of a species that was lion-like in sexual roles and ratios, and which then decided to “fix” humanity by imposing the same sort of “natural order”?

                I vaguely remembering picking something like that up, and deciding it wasn’t my cup of tea, and later being shocked at how well it was selling–As I recall, it got a couple of sequels.

            1. I believe the idea was “sex for reproduction.”

              Even five to one is iffy– women do not share well, and any colony with enough technology for physical strength to not matter is going to have a pretty high mortality from jealous women. (ignoring the damage done psychologically)

              1. Two to one maybe, depending on what tech they’ll have for delivery. If you go back to fairly primitive means, women of reproductive age will die more than men. Fact of life.

                1. If they haven’t got decent birthing assistance, they won’t be able to control the sex ratio of the next generation. It’ll be right back to roughly 1:1.

                  1. I’ve imagined a large ratio of women to men as a starting point (or all women) but the idea was that it would be for one generation only. That’s assuming there aren’t artificial wombs. It’s actually sort of a fun exercise to figure out… how would you work relationships? How many extra women can you include without over balancing something? What are the ground conditions, is it safe enough to go all out on building numbers as fast as possible for the generation of time that the equipment you brought with you will function well and sustain you? What if you just encourage couples to have two or three of their own and then a “bank baby” as a trailer… and what consequences would that have?

                    Which brings up a third “reality wouldn’t work like that” point common to SF which is new colonies with strict one-child policies. WTF?

                    1. At the other extreme, imagine the chaos and carnage that the world of White Plague would lead to. I think he said the ratio of men to the remaining women was something like 1000 to 1.

                    2. Actually, I don’t think it would be as bad as one might project. I think men would adapt, and there would be a massive amount of “basic drive sublimation” going on–Witness what happens in wartime, when entire units adopt one particular kid as mascot. What you might see would be large groups of males “sponsoring” one fertile woman, and doing everything they possibly could to protect, nurture, and ensure that her children were successful. At least for the first generation–If the birth ratios went back to normal afterwards, things would revert. If they didn’t? Wow… They’d better invent some kind of artificial womb substitute. Quickly.

                      That is kind of an interesting idea to play with, though–Let’s say that the female/male ratio was something like one to a thousand or more, and the option was there for a goodly chunk of the men involved to see children from egg harvesting/artificial wombs. What role does the “queen bee” then take? Is she in a position of power, or is she exploited? My guess is that a lot would depend on the people who set things up, but that the successful “hives”, if you will, would probably assign her high status, in order to attract future “queens”.

                      You’d probably also see a split in male gender roles, as well: Hyper-masculine types doing the traditional male roles, and the more effeminate ones taking over the nurturing roles we traditionally assign women.

                      I’m pretty sure I don’t want to live there, but I don’t think it would be the 24/7 horror show that one might think. Hell, even lifers in prison have been known to be fairly chivalrous, under some circumstances.

                    3. I wasn’t thinking about the women at all in that comment. I was talking about the violence which would erupt due to millions of men without any chance of having access to women.

                    4. Oh gee — that’d work swell! Everybody knows women aren’t competitive for male attention at all! Isn’t that right, Veronica?

                    5. Weeeellll…

                      Here’s a thought process I’ve followed, over the years. Take it for what it’s worth.

                      Most SF has the colonization process ass-backwards. The likelihood that we’re going to see colonies dumped on undeveloped worlds willy-nilly, a la Heinlein, is just about nil, outside of accident. Anyone taking a trip to another world is going to be technically sophisticated enough that they’re at home in a non-planetary environment, or they won’t ever get there. So, what’s more likely to happen is that the colony effort is going to arrive, and immediately start colonizing by building space habitats, which is what’s going to seem “natural” to them. Imagine the shock of being a life-long space-dweller, and then trying to adapt to a planet-side lifestyle… Ain’t gonna happen, McGee. Like as not, the first step to interstellar colonization is going to be the space-born(e) types establishing themselves, and only after they’re successful at setting up habitats and industry, will they start thinking about other options. Hell, they may never get around to actually terraforming or even using the planets, messy places that they are. On the other hand, a functioning planetary-scale ecology is a pretty attractive sort of insurance policy, from the standpoint of life-support. So, what you might see is that space-borne culture going out and seeking some planet-bound types to come in and colonize the new worlds. But, that ain’t gonna be step one. Step five, or so…? Maybe. I’m not seeing a lot of enthusiasm among anyone for unsupported colonization efforts on worlds that are brand-new to humans. The first step is always going to be establishing an orbital presence in any given system. The planets are going to be afterthoughts.

                    6. “… a large ratio of women to men as a starting point …”

                      If they eliminate “excess” males — think “Hunger Games” for breeding privileges — to ensure only the fittest reproduce the society could maintain a high female:male ratio indefinitely.

                      What to do about all of the grannies, however?

                    7. I can see frozen embryos sent out as a genetic diversity thing and couples encouraged to have one per. And what would it be like to raise a stranger’s child. And what would the– Oh DRAT you Synova. don’t give me an idea. Please?

                    8. @Sarah…

                      Oh, I’ve read Heinlein. All of him. I can’t think of a single story where he’s had colonies in new systems start out by building the orbital habitats first–He always focused on the planets being the end-all goal. Which I think is what’s back-asswards: The people who reach those systems are going to be space-faring by definition, and more comfortable in that environment. Even if the plan was to work from the planet outwards, my guess is that the majority of them are just going to be a lot more comfortable in the planned, carefully regimented environments of space. Especially in generation ship scenarios–They won’t want to leave the predictable womb they build for themselves, unless they absolutely have to. And, the thing is, I don’t think that it would be a good idea, especially into a completely new planetary biological environment. You’d want an established ecosystem to fall back on, in the local area, just in case you encountered something that was really awful down on the planet.

                      Cases where they’re terraforming a new world are going to necessitate colonizing the orbitals first, anyway. You wouldn’t have a choice.

                      No, I really think that all the stories that have a planetary focus are being written from a planet-based culture centric position that’s just not going to be that common when we get around to doing it. Like as not, the orbital environments are going to seem far more “natural” than a planetary one. I suspect that our criteria for what makes an attractive system may be way off, too–Would you put a lot of work into a system with multiple habitable worlds, and no major planetismal belts? If the majority of the resources are locked up in gravity wells, why would you want to live there? Unless you include a really compelling need for them, planets are almost always going to be the afterthoughts in colonization efforts. I can’t see it working out any other way, unless it’s by misadventure.

                    9. As far super soldier go think of Pournelle’s Saurons. There are volumes of stories about them in the War World series. As far as a lack of men I think Weber’s Grayson system is more likely. I don’t the innate nature of people changes much.

                    10. Kirk, I’ve thought that too, about space based colonization. It makes more sense. Finding extra-solar planets is super awesome, but what the sun and the planets are mostly good for is energy, materials, and a gravitational anchor. The Big Question of finding a planet able to sustain human life is more like… um… why?

                    11. @ Sarah…

                      Ah, but you miss the point: By the time the people starting the colony are likely to make it to another system, they won’t be plains apes, any more. They’ll have adapted themselves into something else, arboreal types who are happiest when swinging from arboreal station to station. To them, the necessary space won’t be where they live and breathe, it will be the exterior void of space, and they’ll find our attitudes towards vacuum the weird thing.

                      We’re going to change ourselves simply by the act of reaching for the stars. The men and women who make it to those stars aren’t going to be the same sort of people we are. Their idea of claustrophobia likely won’t be what ours is. They may find the idea of living at the bottom of a gravity well, with a distinct horizon, to be the fundamentally disquieting thing.

                    12. Niven and Pournelle addressed this kind of thing in Footfall, where the spaceborn Fithp didn’t want to come down to the planet, anyway, and would have been happy to just go on in their spaceship.

                      However, the main premise in most of the colonization stories I have read, except for the generation ships where they are travelling for so long that the original purpose has been forgotten, is interstellar travel within weeks or months between stops. That won’t give enough time to cause the kinds of changes that you’re talking about.

                      Now, if we’re talking about people who are already starting out from a space-borne habitat,and have made that change before they start, then yes, but few stories start from that standpoint.

                    13. Wayne, you beat me to the mention of Heinlein’s assumption of FTL. That would short-circuit any adaptation to non-planetary psychologies.

                      Given only STL, then we’re likely to see a fully colonized and exploited Solar System long before we see inter-stellar colonies. Depending on the tech level, inter-stellar craft and habitats could range from virtual police-states in small cans to much more open societies in Bishop Rings (my personal preference as they require no Unobtanium). The latter would also satisfy human psychological needs much better than the “traditional” Stanford Torus or Bernal Sphere. Then there’s always the WorldRoof(tm) option (also available via the Encyclopaedia Galactica).

                    14. If a truly space-adapted civilization were to arrive in the Sol system, they possibly wouldn’t even bother to swing by and say Hi! as they colonized the Oort cloud and the asteroid belt, unless they had a societal politeness thing about how one should behave when one moves in to vacant territory next door to somebodies planet.

                      They might figure if we had wanted it we would have gone out and started mining. Yet here we are, having scampered back home from our baby steps to the moon almost 50 years go, with no humans since then having been above a couple hundred miles up in low Earth orbit. We haven’t even done any robotic mining! We could argue the probes were really surveys, and that could get us a claim to the Moon, Mars, some of the moons of the gas giants, and now Mercury, but that’s it.

                      The solar system is almost abandoned property.

                    15. I’m going to post my reply to the “people adapting to space environments” discussion at the bottom of the comments, since the threading is starting to peg against WP’s max.

                2. I made up one where the ratio is about two women for one man, due to the fact that these people were originally created as fighters in a very long lasting war and the creators wanted them to breed as fast as possible without the help of something like artificial wombs. And so far they haven’t been able to fix it.

                  And one of the end results is that a lot of women go looking for husbands among the normal humans. 🙂

                  1. If I were setting out to genetically engineer super-soldiers, they’d all be male, and their gametes would automatically be dominant, so that any mating with “normal” humans would automatically result in a super-soldier birth.

                    I can’t see anyone doing that sort of thing without having some kind of “control” built in, a self-limiting factor. Set it up so that the “super-soldier” gamete always results in a male super-soldier, and that birthing one causes enough stress during pregnancy that a normal woman can only manage one or two such births at widely separate intervals in her life, and you’ve got a decent control on things. You’d also have a situation where the women would have to be protected and cared for by the super-soldier caste, and they’d also have to keep a healthy population of normal male and female types around, in order to keep themselves going, long-term. They’d never be able to truly take over and supplant the normals, completely–The two lineages would have to be co-dependent on each other.

                    It’d be an interesting scenario that could flip either way; total feudal nightmare with a genetically superior all-male nobility, or a more egalitarian situation where the normal women viewed themselves as nurturing their defenders… A hell of a lot would likely depend on the nature of the mother/child relationship, and the cultural matrix that such a society grew out of.

                    1. The two lineages would have to be co-dependent on each other.

                      Well, perhaps, or maybe the normals would become chattel, bought and sold between areas with surplusage and areas with shortfall. And with any locality that runs short lacking cash turning to raiding the neighbors for more normals. Any ‘free’ normals would be absolute fair game for anyone.

                      Feudal serfdom would look like an improvement.

                    2. @ Mike–

                      I don’t think anyone setting out to do something like this would take the risk of not building in some control measures. From either direction–If it were the normals setting out to create perfect defenders, or if it were the defenders trying to make themselves better suited to their mission. There’d have to be some balances built into the whole society, and if they weren’t done deliberately, then they’d be developed.

                      The dynamic of “slave mothers” doesn’t parse out, over the long haul. Abuse the women, they’re going to withhold critical care and nurturing. And, such a specialized creature as a “super-soldier” is going to have to have some serious trade-offs, biologically. Somewhere, a price would have to be paid for the things that make them “super”–Shorter lifespans, less resistance to poor nutrition conditions, etc. It’d be like breeding racehorses, in a sense.

                      Hell, the whole thing might be turned upon its head, and the “super-soldiers” are the ones being exploited and abused, bred for use in gladiatorial games…

                      Of course, the whole thing would be an extension of how it started out, and what the base society looked like. Could be a horror show, could be something else entirely.

                    3. OK, that works to keep conditions a little better for the Moms, but what would protect the non-uber-men from being game tokens in the schemes of their masters? For historical parallels, see teh Spartans and the Helots, and check on how that ended up working out for the Spartans.

                      And while I agree the scientists with their “sir, I have a clever plan!” genmod soldier proposals would all have at least one slide in their powerpoint presentations on how their genetic tweaks would be safely firewalled from random mutations or natural variability, nature has a way of routing around stuff like that, and the first one of the ubermensch that produces ubersons faster or more easily than his peers will be at a serious advantage. And besides, ubersoldiers can hire genetic engineers too, so the genmods could be genmodded.

                    4. Leaving aside that you do not have genes for “super-soldier” but for proteins, prepotency is a tricky trait. Normally it requires being homozygous in the dominant gene, which your soldiers will not be in two generations.

                    5. Perhaps it could be tied in to how they have male super soldiers?
                      Something in the Y suppresses the deadly-to-the-child expression of genes?

                      For story purposes, it would be “best” if they just have a really, really high rate of miscarriages at a very, very early stage.

                      Mutation would still be a problem, but the interbreeding thing would solve itself.

                      From the monsters designing it, you’d also be selecting for a culture where it’s a really good idea to sleep with a lot of women, on the chance of getting lucky. Those loyal to one woman are going to have a very low chance of having even one son, let alone many.

                  2. How long has it lasted? Because evolution is working against it, hard. Every child has two parents. That means if your average woman has nine kids, six girls and three boys, she will have 54 grandchildren from the girls, and another 54 grandchildren from the boys. 108 total.

                    A woman who had nine boys for whatever genetic or environmental fluke would have 162 total. And differential fertility is the driving force of evolution.

                    1. Not that long, for these people. They live up to about 300 years but are naturally fertile for about a third of that, and usually around 30 to 40 when they have their first children.

                1. See: A Brother’s Price, Wen Spencer.

                  This is a topic which deserves to be explored in a novel where the dice haven’t been loaded. Accept the premise (a colony of feminists is established in the asteroid belt to prove men aren’t necessary; much frivolity ensues) but work it through using actual humans. (See, also, PJ Farmer’s Lord Tyger for realistic exploration of what you get by having great apes raise English scions.)

                  1. I thought that A Brother’s Price was pretty good. I’m not sure that I buy the culture, exactly, but it was an interesting thought experiment relating to gender roles and hiding your man away from outside eyes. (One result being that families of women with a homely man thought he was the bees knees.)

                    Please note… this was not a culture typified by *peace* in any way shape or form.

            2. Well, it would fix itself in the next generation, as the boys are pressed into stud duty to ensure that the maximum genetic diversity is saved from their mothers’ generation.

          1. I vaguely remember a novel from my misspent youth where the ratio was 100-1, intended for one generation only to quickly increase the population in that generation. Maybe it was one of the F.M. Busby space operas? I know I had many of them, which I lost in the Great Apartment Flood of 1989.

        2. Religion is entirely bad? Oh dear. I’d best rush out and pull the Colplatschki book, scrap the rest of the Cat Among Dragons stories, and then go take college courses in Wymyn’s History and Education.

          NOT!

          1. Oh yes — Religion is entirely bad! Nobody wants to read about that except to learn how terrible it can be. That’s why the Narnia books are out of print and the Perelandra trilogy can’t be found.

            1. It’s the liberal atheist’s conceit, that in the future we’ll all be too “Smart” to believe in all that superstitious nonsense.

              Like Marx.

              Even if you look at religion as merely a life philosophy, stripped of anything supernatural, it’s still a useful thing to have in society.

  3. When I was a child, a friend of mom’s had just gone through a divorce and her ex-husband had left behind a pile of scifi and fantasy. Yeah, I don’t know why he’d leave that stuff either. In any event, she gave me that pile of books, which included “The Warlock In Spite of Himself”. One page in, I was hooked. I’ve probably reread it a dozen times since then, along with the big pile of sequels Stasheff created in the Graymare universe. I hadn’t seen anything from him in a while and had simply assumed that he wasn’t writing anymore. I’m glad to find out that I was wrong.

  4. Great! I’ve read Stasheff for years, since at least the late 1970’s. How cool that you got to meet him in person!

    Please persuade him to ‘go Indy’ and publish more work. I reckon there are enough of us who remember his earlier stuff with glee to be able to give him all the publicity he needs. Heck, if he’ll do e-books of “The Warlock In Spite Of Himself” and other volumes, I’ll plug ’em on my blog! That was the first book of his that I read, and it’s still my favorite.

    1. The Warlock in Spite of Himself has reverted to him, so the ebook at Amazon is officially Indie I believe. I’m hoping Edward will pop in at some point with a list of indie titles, Christoper wasn’t sure what had been released. It was a joy to sit with him, and hopefully I will be able to attend the con next year and see him.

  5. I really have enjoyed all of his books that I have read. That said, the map of Gramarye (on his site) where the island is in the shape of a gryphon is a bit eyerolling. 🙂

      1. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

        Though this comes from a distance. I last read Stasheff, oh, about two years ago.

  6. We used to pass him around in high school, and then in college the Catholic Student’s center had a complete collection of his stuff. (I think some student donated it at some point.) I’m glad to see he’s going Indie! I enjoy light fantasy (I tend to consider his ‘sci fi’ fantasy. Much like Pern.), and there never seems to be enough good stuff out there! The frog book also sounds fun. And… I’d never heard of the Voltaire method, but I think I’ll give it a try! 🙂

    BTW– Ignatius Press is publishing more fiction these days. There still might be a place for him in ‘non-Indie’, if he looked at Catholic/Christian publishers instead of traditional SF/F…..

  7. Great to hear he’s going indie. I love the first Warlock books, and remember reading a few others of his I really, really liked only I had to sell about two thirds of my then library during the 90’s (moving, lack of space), and kept only the ones I had liked best and those didn’t quite make the grade and then I forgot about lots of them…

    Yay, ebooks! I love reading paper books (including the tactile sensations they give you, and the smell of paper and ink), but they do take so much space. Now I just have to get a good ereader at some point, so far I have been reading on my desktop.

    1. Warning: if you are old fashioned like me and run wires for your desktop (it’s a desktop, it’s not like you’re packing it around the house, what advantage is a wireless router?) if you buy a kindle (or android tablet and want download apps like the kindle app) you will have to get a wireless router. Even though you can hook them to a computer via a USB cord, there is no way to load anything onto them via the USB cord.

      Personally I think it’s evil capitalism, and they are getting a kickback from the manufacturers of wireless routers 😉

      1. I have a Kobo Aura and it will sync through the USB cable. This is a good thing since I needed to set it up before I could get the MAC address for our wireless network. We use a whitelist so only known machines can log in.

      2. I’ve had my Kindle for going on three years or more and other than one time when I first got it to register with Amazon I have never downloaded over wifi. Every book I read starts in my Mac desktop and gets put into the Kindle at my direction. Never had a bit of problem as long as the files are either .mobi or .pdf. And of course .mobi is one of the formats that Baen includes for all their ebooks.
        Then to if all you have is a computer Amazon offers a free app for either Mac or PC to read both .mobi and their proprietary .azw file formats directly on your ‘puter.

        1. I believe that, prior to the “Cloud Reader” system, if you purchased a title with DRM, and download it to your reading app on a computer, you could not transfer it to the Kindle without jumping through a lot of hoops to transfer the DRM permissions. Now, with the “Cloud Reader”, it will transfer to any device which is connected to your email address.

          1. I use the Cloud Reader. I had the reading apps for Mac, but it stopped working and I got tired of playing with trying to get it working again (I deleted it and downloaded it again, no results, it starts and then it nearly immediately dies).

          2. Yes, but I am unaware of a way to transfer them without using wireless. I now have a wireless router, so it is no longer important to me, but it was highly irritating to have to go buy one. Actually got it before the kindle, because I got one of the cheap android netbooks, and then found out that although I could connect to the internet at home via an Ethernet cable, I couldn’t download apps from the google store via cord, and many of the apps are unavailable anywhere else. I originally drove to town and went to a McDonalds and used their wireless to download apps. Later figured out that the Kindle app for it not only holds only a limited amount of books, but it randomly removes (and occasionly adds when in wireless coverage) them from memory. This is highly irritating when you are camped out for a week working, and come night you come back to camp, turn the thing on, and it has removed the book you were reading last night from memory. And then removed the next one you were wanting to read also, while leaving the terrible one you read last week in there.

            1. Bearcat, did you ever get an answer about transferring books without using wireless? I scrolled through the replies and couldn’t tell. I transfer books via computer all the time for my Paperwhite 2 (in fact, it hasn’t has wireless turned on since I originally bought it.)

              Here’s a link to Amazon’s instructions. They’re for the Kindle 2nd Generation, but they’re the same instructions I use for all the family Kindles.
              https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

              The relevant part is under “Transferring Files Via USB.”

              Hope this helps.

        2. Had the app on my computer, long before I had kindle. How do you get the files from your computer to the Kindle? I was unable to find any way to send them via cord, and all info I could find on the internet claimed you had to use wifi.

          If all you have is a computer, mobipocketbook reader is IMHO a far superior app to the kindle app to read mobi files on. With MUCH less bugs in it. It is just a pain (at least to the computer impaired) to convert the amazon downloads to .mobi when they automatically show up on the kindle app already.

          Oh and the kindle app for android is buggier than a pile of rotten apples in august.

          1. Thing is while I really appreciate the Kindle hardware I am also in complete agreement with the feelings of Jim Baen and Eric Flint that DRM is evil so I refuse to allow it on my reader. My desktop is a Mac, so when I plug the Kindle in via usb it shows up on my screen as an external device. Double click the icon to open and I see a system folder and a document folder. Open up the document folder and I can delete old e-books I’m done with and move new ones from the computer to the Kindle. Apparently there are issues with doing this with Amazon .azw files, but as I said I refuse to deal with them. Between Baen and other third party sources there is plenty of content out there without rewarding those control freaks who insist on DRM.
            As an aside, for books I will read on the computer I much prefer either .epub or .html formats, both of which Baen also offers.

            1. If DRM pisses you off as much as it does me, I recommend Calibre with the DRM removal tools found at Apprentice Alf’s place. Illegal? Sure, but I bought the damned books and I will bloody well transfer them to whatever device I have on hand. I don’t upload them to torrent sites for pirating, but I own the freaking books, much like I own my paper books. I will be damned if I let someone prevent me from handling how I want to handle them.

              1. Cailbre is an excellent program, the DRM removal tool integrates into it seamlessly, and doing this makes managing your files across your devices much easier.
                I highly recommend it.
                I took the leap when an “upgrade” to the Kindle app meant that I was unable to access any of my books (including those without DRM) from my smartphone. (I spend a fair bit of time in waiting rooms. I was not amused at suddenly having nothing to read but old magazines about moviestars.)

              2. Very much agree. I have the necessary tools to strip DRM, calibre and others, but why on earth would I reward a publishing house by buying a crippled product from them? Not a lawyer, so can’t speak to legality, but if I bought the book, and make no profit from any conversion or manipulation of the contents, or share with anyone else to rob the author and publisher of their rightful fees, then I believe myself to be morally in the clear. So fie on them, I’ll spend my money with Baen and others who respect my rights as a reader and customer.
                On a side note, J.K.Rowling’s publisher was dead set against ebooks, refused to allow them whatsoever, and only reluctantly agreed to audio books when Rowling insisted for visually challenged fans. For at least the last three of the Harry Potter books the usual suspects had the full content posted online within 24 hours of release. Will further note that for those last three I bought three copies of the hardback on the day of release, one for myself and two as gifts for friends, so if I somehow managed to discover an e copy as well I really don’t see the problem.

                  1. Have nothing but respect for the woman. She has always shown empathy towards her readers, and loyalty to her publisher, wrongheaded though their position is which will ultimately not work in their best interest. I only used her as the most prominent example I could think of on the fly for why DRM is both foolish and unenforceable.

            2. (re Uncle Lar’s mac to Kindle via USB methodology)

              Just a note for the non Mac folk : This is exactly how I move Baen ebooks to my Kindle. Plug it in and the Kindle looks like an external drive, then just copy the .mobi or pdf files over into the documents directory. In Windows you generally want to ‘eject’ the Kindle to avoid any possible corruption issues when you pull the USB plug out, and then when you check the books list, your new shiny Baen ebook shows up. Easy peasy.

            3. Point of order: though Amazon does support DRM, the decision of whether or not to use it is solely up to the publisher. It’s a checkbox in the publishing portal.

              1. yep. Goldport Press and Naked Reader press, in one of which I have a majority vote (no, not a sole proprietorship) and the other in which I have A vote, don’t use DRM.

          2. I use Aldiko on my android tablet. One of the features I really like with Aldiko is the ability to switch between day and night modes. Night mode switches to a black background (from white) and I have it set to use a red font. I actually have it set to that almost all the time. And if the book is in a format that Aldiko doesn’t support (or has DRM…grumble), I convert it to .epub and drop it on the tab. Copying files over to the tablet using the USB cable is a snap (it’s a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7″) as it appears as drive on the PC.

            On Windows, Kindle defaults to storing the books in the My Documents\My Kindle Content folder.

  8. So glad to hear that Stasheff is still around and still writing! “The Warlock In Spite of Himself” is one of the first books of that sort I ever read. Love it still! Thanks for sharing the interview, Cedar.

  9. A little off topic, but, also in line with Cedar’s interview. He is not the only writer getting the shaft of ignore-ance. I borrowed the link from a commenter on another blog about the abuse of authors by publishers, not Baen.
    http://girlgeniusadventures.com/2014/01/29/a-tale-of-two-tors-be-warned-im-annoyed/ And, thank you for the reference- I don’t know if I’ve read Mr. Stasheff or not, but, the title sounds like I have or at least want to. Will check Amazon.

    1. Sounds like he could put The Foglios out of business for 5 years for the cost of whatever upfront money the contract stipulated.

      Obviously PNH is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Not surprising since he is closely connected to the current SFWA president.

      1. Y’know… I almost want to see them try that, if only to witness the results after the Foglio’s fandom got done with them. I have this suspicion that it might a.) be something for the history books, and b.) provide a salutary lesson to publishing houses everywhere for the next few hundred years.

        Just thinking about the likely results of such a thing sends this frission of purest schadenfreude up and down my spine, along with an evocation of the odor of blood… Lots and lots of blood.

        1. The fandom already basically went and yelled at them a lot back when that was posted…. I am not quite sure how much it helped, but it got their attention.

          PNH posted a rebuttal somewhere claiming that this was never his job, he’s not in charge of the Foglios’ editor, it does not work that way, etc. So did a bunch of other people. While it is possible that the Foglios and/or their agent didn’t handle the communications well either, I am not really impressed that the defense seemed to be “Tor is organized so that nobody is actually answerable to either the authors or a boss for not doing their job”.

          Fortunately, it seems that all the Foglios actually agreed not to publish separately was a full-color omnibus of volumes 1-3. They’re still publishing individual volumes just fine, got their novelization rights sorted out (with someone else), and could publish other omnibuses except that until they can do a 1-3 of their own they can’t make the series match.

    2. Huh. Almost makes me regret having bought the omnibus for a cousin to introduce him to it. Oh, well. Going forward it would be their own.

  10. For some reason I thought he was dead. Good to know he’s alive and still writing. I loved reading his books as a teen, and I need to look at what he’s written in the last 15 years or so.

  11. Sorry I was too sick to go to the con this weekend. Millennium is always fun and I would have liked to meet you in person.

    Mr. Stasheff is a gentleman and a man of the theater, and he has always been well-thought of in the Midwest con circuit for that. He used to be a frequent guest, so I ‘m glad he’s coming again.

  12. As a member of the Millennicon concom, I’ll just second Cedar’s comment about his appearance being something of a surprise to us. I did the same double-take thing – as I was helping pack up the consuite yesterday afternoon, I was being careful to avoid bumping a family sitting at a table grabbing a late snack before closing ceremonies – and noticed that one wore a badge that read Christopher Stasheff. I was almost as surprised to learn he was still alive as that he was at our convention.

    1. THIS is what I mean when I compared writers they stopped buying with the one-armed banished harpers in Lloyd Biggle Jr’s The Still Small Voice of Trumpets. If they stopped buying us, we disappeared and people thought we died, or had found other things to do. That was the ultimate unjust cut. Our fans, who would have been outraged by an unjust cut NEVER KNEW.
      Thank you, indie, (and blogs) for giving us trumpets.

      1. All too true. I actually had the passing thought about not having seen anything from CS for quite some time. As prolific as he’d been, I just kind of figured that he’d either quit or died.
        I should have known better. Especially after finding out just a couple of weeks ago that one of my favorite authors was still writing, despite not having seen anything of his in a bookstore for about five years.

      2. Is it wrong of me to say a little prayer fairly often that indie bring destruction and death to the thieving bassards until the only one left standing is the ultimate odd house, Baen?

        1. The editors only buy what they like. It seems like a control game. You can only read what we publish and sell. It seems just like what TV and music were before blogs and downloadable music.

          1. Which showcases the obvious flaw in the major houses’ business model. It’s perfectly fine for a small art house editor to buy whatever they like, but a major publisher must, if they intend to remain in business, buy and print what sells.
            Sarah’s ongoing saga of the bad old days before indie are the perfect case in point where an author had to write what the editors liked, and when those editors attempted to dictate what they thought the readers should like instead of what they actually wanted, the author was smack between a rock and a hard place.
            Of course all you need to do is look at the interaction between the majors and their customers. Baen has the bar, the free library, DRM free product all day every day, while everyone else… Not so much.
            Not to mention that with indie your work is right there in front of Ghod and everybody to sink or swim on it’s own merit, and with a much better author share than even Baen can provide. Then again if you look up Jim Baen’s page on Wiki it says his original intent with ebooks was to break even after three years of trial. Webscriptions broke even the first year and has shown a profit every year since. And Baen aggressively promotes their releases, draws from some of the most talented cover artists in the field, and treats their writers with respect. Something the other publishers can’t seem to be bothered with.

              1. Yes we do. I’ve got books back to when Jim first started and I think that I have more Baen books than any other publisher. Especially since the 1990s. There are reasons for that. Maybe it’s because of Jim’s background in magazines, but he always tried to communicate with his readers more than any other publisher. With the Bar he made his readers part of his community.

                1. As a publisher Jim Baen was as one of a kind, as John W. Campbell was a magazine editor. They were equally influential.

        2. Or maybe add to that prayer the hope that some new houses, built after the model of Baen, will be born to replace the old ones which couldn’t adjust? It’s good to have some competition so having more Baens should be too. 🙂

      3. And of course Lloyd Biggle Jr. (may he rest in peace) was exactly one of those who suffered from being banished. He moved over to self-published mysteries, and they were pretty fair, but his sf was awesome. Another very nice man who is much missed.

    2. The Other Sean. Can you get in touch with Cedar through Cedarwrites or contact me at Slashfinn at Yahoo dot Com Thanks

  13. I hadn’t realized he started writing as early as all that. (I had the same idea about James Schmitz, which should give you an idea of how ahead of their times they were writing.)

  14. Thanks for the interview and the links! And it’s a pretty sad story as far as his being kicked to the ‘current’ curb because of perceptions…

  15. ” … Stasheff’s work most likely became not enough ‘me-female-me-first’ for the bossy sorts. ”
    Heh I see what you did there.

    I do not recall this author, so I either missed him or it was too long ago and those transactions have been purged from the database … so I am heading off to see what I can rustle up … thanks!

  16. There are a lot of “old authors”, if you will, who I’d like to see back in print, if only so I can reread them to see if they stand the test of time.

    I was really, really glad when P.C. Hodgell got picked up by Baen, along with the Liaden authors. Both of those series were ones I remember reading in passing, back in the day, and then wondering “What the hell ever happened to them…?”. It was really bad when I couldn’t remember title, author, or even publisher. Just the stories…

    There are a lot of works like that out there. Christopher Rowley’s Fein series, and the Vang horror SF series. If I were to sit down and think, I bet I could come up with a couple of dozen, as could we all. And, what pisses me off? They’re all sitting there on some publishers backlist, unavailable, and not making the authors any money. I’d rather buy digital for the convenience, but also to try to put some money into the author’s pockets.

    Seems to me that if they’re not making the books available either with new copies available, or digitally, the rights ought to revert to the author, who could then put the damn things up on Amazon for some pin money, at least. I know I’d rather buy “new” digital versions, and know some money went into the author’s pockets.

    If we had a worthwhile author’s organization, things like this are what they’d be working on making happen. To me, it’s flipping ridiculous that things like Asimov’s book on algebra aren’t available except at ridiculous expense, and yet there’s a demand for them. Some copies of Realm of Algebra are going for ungodly sums, like around 150.00 for a damaged paperback copy.

    Personally, I think the copyright laws need to be changed, in order to put a stop to the publishers holding works hostage. If you don’t want to make the titles available, at a reasonable cost, the rights revert to the author. If they don’t make arrangements to make them available, the rights go public domain. The principle behind copyright was that it was supposed to foster to spread of knowledge. If I can’t buy a copy of a particular work at a reasonable price, then what the hell is the point of granting copyright?

    1. Copyright law is being used to un-publish works. It’s the antithesis of what it’s supposed to be for, but suggest any changes and you’ll hear “you’re starving my great-grandchildren!” as if the purpose of copyright law was to ensure lifetime income for the creator and all of the creator’s progeny.

    2. I will take the matter a step further and suggest that if, at any time, the publisher of a work allows it to go “out-of-print” for a period of ever two years (mini-me wants to say “two weeks”, but I am trying to be appear reasonable here) the copyright reverts to the author (or estate thereof.) That requires availability of the work in either dead tree format at standard pricing for the “normal” format (leather-bound, gilt-edged etcetera etcetera etcetera count as specialty items, works of art and thus do not qualify for maintenance in print standards.) Electronic versions of the books cost very little to keep “in-print” and satisfy the requirement unless the publisher “buries” the work in a backlist.

      Arguably, the presentation of a book in dead tree form no longer constitutes “publication” but merely publication in a specific form. The publisher has a right to charge for value added only — and let others debate whether dead trees are added value.

            1. Or it reverts. It’s very easy, if publishers want to keep a writer UNREAD (and honestly there’s no explanation for some of the stuff they do to some authors otherwise) to make it sell as little as possible, but have it in ebook, and therefore in print. For instance price it absurdly. I’ve seen ebooks at 49 dollars. Or make it virtually unreadable through formatting. (To be fair I bought some bantam ebooks last month, and I don’t think they did it on purpose, since it’s one of their headliners, but really….) etc, etc.

              1. Ok, I wasn’t reading Mary’s comment correctly. Now I get it. No, don’t ask what I was thinking, because I’m not sure I can explain, and if I did, it’s really stupid anyway.

              2. Actually selling them may be beyond the publisher’s control, no matter how intelligently they price and format, and failure to move should not be a cause to penalize the publisher. See comment about pricing dead-tree in line with the market for the format; apply same principle to e-books. Binding arbitration ought serve to determine whether the publisher’s choices have acted to impede purchasing (might be enough to kill DMR.)

                OTOH, why would a publisher want to retain rights to a book that isn’t moving? (Okay – I can think of a couple decent reasons, such as Steven Speilberg or Joss Weadon or Hot N. Director has an option on film rights.)

                Perhaps the solution is to make retention of e-publication rights an ongoing expense? $X buys first publication and a period after (e.g., five years) with annual payments of $Y simply to retain rights from years six through ten, $Z each year thereafter? The goal is to ensure that publisher inattention to a title does not impoverish the author; any time the publisher decides the work is not worth the ongoing expense it can revert to author.

                1. Because they do. or at least they told mine weren’t moving but I had to fight them tooth and nail. I think it’s a “looter ticket” mentality. It costs them nothing, and tomorrow someone might decide to do a movie, or a book that’s similar even, and then…….. Also, even if an individual book isn’t moving, if you have the rights to a few thousand, the cumulative piddly income does nothing for the writer BUT will keep the publisher in style.

                2. Its the bureaucratic mindset. Even if the rights have no value to the publisher, you can’t get fired for failing to revert.

    3. If there’s no copyright, how can we control what the rubes read, or punish non-conforming authors?/ sarcasm

      1. It doesn’t sell because it’s not on the market. I’d have happily paid full ticket on Amazon for digital copies. Instead, I went down to the local used-books place and picked copies up for a couple of bucks. Tell me, how’d that benefit the author or the publisher?

        If these idiots were subject to the same rules other companies were, they’d all be in a hell of a lot of trouble with their investors. Instead, they quite literally get away with murder. Larry Correia’s got a good piece on this issue, today, with some insight from the accounting end of things.

        1. I’m almost tempted to having people make a list with pictures. “Have you seen?” and share them on FB and see if we find some of the missing.
          I want the rest of Lord Meren by Linda Robinson, d*mn it.

          1. YES– there are so many that I would like to read again. I will have to go to the library to get the story “The Right to Arm Bears.” One of my favorites.

          2. That’s a hell of an idea. The authorial equivalent of “faces on milk cartons”.

            What irritates the crap out of me is that I know these authors could likely use the money. I’d really hate to see more H. Beam Piper syndrome. Which I lay blame on the idiots he was writing for–The money they could have made with him alive and writing would have easily made their investment back. Instead, he spiraled down into penury and committed suicide.

            One of my candidates for saving, if I ever get my hands on a working time machine. Forget killing Hitler–I want to know where the hell the Fuzzies came from!!

          3. It might be interesting to see what happens if we can get enough of these “b(l)acklist victims” to join in and demand their rights back, and then see how much demand there might be for their works, kind of an authorial self-help movement. In other words, pull a Mencken, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats. It irritates the hell out of me that I’ve either got to buy a torn-up, falling-apart copy at a used book shop, or pirate these authors, knowing that not one thin dime will go into their pockets.

            I really don’t care for the publishers, to be quite honest. I think they’ve been screwing the authors for far too long, and I’ll be brutally honest: I won’t shed a tear when the lot of them go bankrupt, just like the record labels. These bastards have had waaaaay, way too much influence over the culture for generations, and it’s time they went the hell away. I wouldn’t mind the role they played, if I knew the authors were getting a decent living, but having kept up on what happened to Hodgell, and the Liaden authors, I’ve got not one iota of sympathy for the bastards. They’re not symbiotes, they’re parasites. Worse yet, they’re parasites who are engaged in killing their host…

          4. Sarah, this sounds like an excellent idea, especially for those of us who don’t know who came before and would like to find out.

  17. I’ll add my squeeeee of delight to hear that Christopher Stasheff is still with us, and still writing. WARLOCK IN SPITE OF HIMSELF has always been a favorite to be reread as often as I can make space in the (virtual) TRQ.

  18. So nice to read this, thanks, Cedar! Stasheff has been a favourite author of mine — and by contagion, of my household — since nearly forever, and I’ve been doing this sort of thing long enough to have bought The Warlock In Spite Of Himself and its sequel, King Kobold (as well as its uniquely published revision, King Kobold Revived, the paired reading of which is an exercise encouraged) when they were first issued.

    Because Stasheff’s career has previously experienced fallow periods — extended dry spells — interlaced with periods of significant prolificness I had thought he had entered another quiet spell, an idea furthered by the termination of his first published MC, Rod Gallowglass. I don’t know whether to be glad it ain’t so or irate over the publishers’ boycott of him; I guess I will be both. Thanks to the internetties and indie publishing, the MSM iron curtain is shredding.

    Readers unfamiliar with Stasheff’s primary works ought be warned: they are decidedly not politically correct. The Warlock series features an MC who is willing to put his life on the line to build and protect a democratic republic (or is it a republican democracy?) and has a wife who is not only the most powerful “witch” (esper?) on the planet (in the universe?) but as the product of a medieval society glories in having and raising children. The Wizard in Rhyme series goes even further astray, addressing religion with a capital R as a positive and energizing element of a culture. Stasheff’s books and characters are true to their settings and their stories, which is one more reason for the EngLit majors to despise him.

  19. It seems the Warlock in Spite of Himself is the running favorite. But my vote goes for “A Wizard in Rhyme” and “Starship Troupers”. I learned more about theatre and acting from those books. And I even enjoyed book three despite my disagreement with sense of heavy-handedness I got from the religious portrayals.

    Please get book 4 out in e-format — Can’t wait to find out what is next!

  20. One more belated vote of agreement. Stasheff was one of the names on my “buy it if you see it” list. Very glad to know there may be more coming out, and in the meantime, there’s bits out there? Will grab! Thanks!

  21. I just gotta say “ditto” to what many here have posted. I read everything Stasheff published when it came out, and had idly wondered what happened to him. Thanks so much for bringing his return to my attention.

  22. Reblogged this on Be Swift, Be Precise and commented:
    Normally I avoid reblogging, I prefer linking, but today, this one is just too good. I just found that one of my favorite authors — Christopher Stasheff — is still writing, and Cedar Sanderson got a chance to interview him at a recent con.

    Sad to realize that such a good author has been blocked from publishing by the traditional publishing houses — shows what poor excuse for gate-keepers they are. Go Indie and publish that fourth “Starship Troupers” novel — I need to read it soon!

  23. Since the “people adapting to space-based habitats” discussion is so deeply threaded at this point, I’m posting my reply down here.

    Wayne Blackburn wrote:

    Now, if we’re talking about people who are already starting out from a space-borne habitat,and have made that change before they start, then yes, but few stories start from that standpoint.

    The Japanese novels Crest of the Stars and Banner of the Stars (which I haven’t been able to find as novels, though I have watched the anime series based on them) start from a premise like this. The Abh used to be genetically-designed slaves (I’m guessing their name is meant to have originated as an acronym for something like Artificially-Born Humans) tailor-made to be well adapted to space environments — they can withstand high acceleration well, they have an extra spatial sense that operates in three dimensions, and so on. The former slaves revolted and essentially took over space: the Abh space navy can beat other cultures’ ships easily, and it takes something like 10-to-1 odds to threaten them in space. So they now have an effective monopoly on space travel: if you want to travel through space, you go on an Abh liner and pay their prices. This leads to resentment among “normal” humans, and a war breaks out.

    The anime is quite good, and if you have a chance to watch it, it’s worth the time.

    1. Tokyopop translated some of them before they went under. For the most part the series has not been translated. The interesting part is that Abh society is not monolithic and has a marge lander component at high levels of society. The fact that the main characters are the empresses daughter and a lander who was raise into high nobility gives a great insight as to how the whole universe works. As to the ten to one, I think it depends on circumstances and competence as much as anything.

  24. New stories by Christopher Stacheff?? I was feeling depressed lately, because someone gave me a gift card and I couldn’t find a single book I wanted to read, and this made my day. Along with several other writers, it’s his Warlock series that inspired me to start writing my own fantasy adventures. I even named one of the chapters in a published novella “A Wizard in Bedlam” to honor his place in my shelf of books . Tonight I start diving into his website.

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