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Interview: Edward M. Lerner by Ernest Lilley
Review by Ernest Lilley Interview  ISBN/ITEM#: INTEdLerner
Date: October 2007

Links: Author's Webpage / Fleet of Worlds Review /

By the time I'd gotten to the end of "Fleet of Worlds" I'd decided that I liked what Ed Lerner was doing in his Niven collaboration quite well, but it didn't stop me from having a few questions I wondered about regarding the process of working with one of SF's greats, as well as how he personally related to the material. Ed was happy to share his thoughts with us about Ringworld, working with Larry, and where the story goes from here.

SFRevu: What's your personal history with Ringworld? When did you read it and or subsequent books and what did you think? Had you met Larry Niven before?

Edward M. Lerner: I'm a long-time fan of Larry's Known Space saga. So: I read every book in the Ringworld series very soon after it came out.

I didn't meet Larry until much later, at Worldcon 2003. We were on a panel together at Worldcon 2004, "My Favorite Planet." The fictional planets I most wanted to visit were the Fleet of Worlds, scarcely glimpsed in Ringworld. One thing led to another ...

SFRevu: What was working with Larry like? Who did what? Did you ever feel like a two headed alien?

Ed: Both fun and a learning experience. Few authors have the experience at collaborating that Larry has.

We interacted a lot during the novel's early stages, on fine points of settings and characters, premise and plot. We developed detailed notes about the biology, sociology, technology -- you name it -- of the Puppeteers. Once things gelled, I did the first draft by section, sending off a few chapters at a time for Larry to edit. We swapped rewrites back-and-forth until we were both happy.

Larry likes to say that for him this collaboration was a spectator sport -- that he did his work long ago. It's a droll line, and it highlights the value of the richly realized universe that is the background of the story.

He did far more, of course. Like the time, halfway through a first draft of the book, he emailed out of the blue with a nifty new plot twist ...

SFRevu: Did you feel constrained by having to write to an existing set of ideas, or was it fun to try and create them over again? What challenges did current science offer in terms of the technology of N-Space?

Ed: We decided we were writing an historical novel -- only the history (previous Known Space episodes) was set in the future. So yes, there were constraints, but every writer of historical fiction handles such things.

The biggest technology change since the early Known Space stories has to do with computers. I worked in high tech for a long time, so I expanded the future technology by adding a far amount of computer-science perspective.

SFRevu: We enjoyed Fleet of Worlds...will there be more? Do the colonists ever rejoin humanity?

Ed: I'm glad you liked it. Stay tuned for Juggler of Worlds, to be released in 2008.

SFRevu: What are you working on next?

Ed: There's a Lerner solo in the pipeline (October 2008): Fools' Experiments. It's near-future hard SF involving artificial life (evolved software) and artificial intelligence. My tag line: We are not alone, and it's our own damn fault ...

I'm well into the next solo book, a near-future nanotech thriller. It's working title is Small Miracles. My tag line: First Brent Cleary got caught in a terrorist attack. A medical miracle saved him. Then things really turned nasty ....

SFRevu: Thanks, Ed.

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