Review by Ernest Lilley
Interview ISBN/ITEM#: 0507TTI
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SFRevu: How is The Quantum Connection doing? How did Warp Speed do? Are you having fun yet?
TT: Well, I'm not sure about TQC yet but Warp Speed did really well. I'm told that it sold about 83%. Both books got pretty decent reviews from various places. And, the customer reviews on Amazon were either great or terrible. So, I guess I'm pleased with that? Oh, I'm always having fun with this stuff. For me the fun was developing the ideas and then writing the story. I haven't really talked to anybody about the stories yet so I'm not sure how much fun that will be - though I'm looking forward to it.
SFRevu: Does TQC represent a course correction after WS? What made you decide to go with new main characters? Is this a trilogy?
TT: Well, TQC wasn't a "course correction". In fact, it was exactly on course from my plan. I actually had four books completely planned out before I ever finished WS. Jim has the first 6 chapters of WS book 3 right now and is reading it. There was more of the "alien" presence in WS at first but I took it out so there would be more "shock" or surprise in TQC. You'll see a whole new set of main characters in book 3. Also, since I've got 2-3 other projects going on and a fulltime day job, I had to get a friend to help out with book 3. So book 3 will be a collaboration. All that is assuming Jim decides to buy it, of course.
SFRevu: How do you write? Do you plan out your books before you start, or discover what happens as it winds up on the paper?
TT: You ever heard of pseudo-code? It is a less formal method than flow-charting for programming software. It's kind of like making an outline but with pseudo-code there are no rules. I write a pseudo-code for each chapter making a complete outline of the book before I start. Sometimes it changes. Like with TQC...in the pseudo-code Tatiana died. But when I got to that part of the story, so much bad stuff had happened to Steven already that I just couldn't bring myself to kill her. And, she was so cool I just couldn't do it.
SFRevu: Heinlein or Doc Smith? Who was the cooler writer? Which is more applicable to gaming, and which is better for reality?
TT: My favorite is Heinlein although everybody keeps saying my stuff reads like Doc Smith. They were both pretty darn cool though. And as far as gaming... hmmmm... well the Mobile Infantry would make a great game. Actually, there are about 50 games out there that use powered armor of some sort, but there should be one called "Rico's Roughnecks."
SFRevu: James Hogan wrote his first novel on a bet in his office, and there's a fine literary tradition of folks who've come to the sudden realization that whether or not they can write the next Hugo winning novel, they can certainly write better than the book they just read. How hard was writing Warp Speed and Quantum Connection? Did you feel satisfied with the result?
TT: Well I wrote WS on a dare from my wife. But the writing wasn't hard at all. It was fun. TQC took a little more effort because I had to invent a computer that uses quantum connectedness and I wanted to make sure I did that part right. In both books though, the characters were fun to write. I really liked placing the clues and foreshadows of the McGuffins. About half the people I've talked to that read TQC didn't catch the missing time until after the fact. But some others told me it was too obvious. And the McGuffin that saves the day in WS, a.k.a. flubells, was actually the first idea I had for the entire series. The second were the big fight scenes. Oh, and I was personally satisfied with both stories.
SFRevu: I'd pretty much gotten over the fact that I couldn't live up to the heroic mould of most golden age SF heroes by convincing myself that they really didn't exist. But no, people like you have to mess up the curve. Did you consciously model yourself on Richard Ballinger Seaton (Doc Smith), and half a dozen Heinlein Heroes? Who do you identify with in SF?
TT: Aha! I get that question a lot. When I was in High School I saw The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension and thought "cool, a brain surgeon, particle physicist, samurai, comic book hero, I'll do that when I grow up." Well I haven't done any brain surgery, but if they ever put a med school in Huntsville, I'm likely to give it a try. I'm actually quite humbled by people actually comparing me to Richard Seaton and other fictitious characters. It may seem uncommon to others in the public but not to me. Go look up Story Musgrave's resume; I wish I were THAT cool.
SFRevu: Though you've conveniently forgotten the name of the book that spurred you to write, I wonder if you remember the first book that really turned you on? How has your reading interests changed from then till now?
TT: The first sci-fi I read was Marooned by Martin Caidin. The second was War of the Worlds. The third was Star Wars (though this borders on fantasy as there is very little science in it). And I was a big X-men, Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, Superman, and Batman fan, but there are those who would say comic books don't count - HMMPH!. Then I got into Heinlein and Asimov and the Robotech series. But the books that really did it for me were Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. My interests haven't changed as much as been honed. I prefer hard science to fantasy and I like action, plot twists, tomato soup can endings, and McGuffins.
SFRevu: What do you think of the New Hard SF? Do you see yourself as part of a movement to put the S back in SF? Who do you admire that doesn't write like you at all?
TT: Yes, I wrote WS and TQC because of a need for hard S in SF. I read one review of TQC that claimed it was more fantasy than science and about flipped out of my gourd. There was no fantasy just hard cutting edge scientific abstract ideas. I remember reading the scene in Have Spacesuit Will Travel where the main character is fixing his spacesuit and Heinlein goes into great details on the technical aspects of that. I liked that and tried to put similar aspects in my books. One example is the detail in which is given on the video game repair in TQC. I got a kick out of that part. Who do I admire now? I'm not sure. I really like Ringo's stuff, especially the ones I helped him out with the science on - plug plug, lol. Seriously though, Gust Front rocked. And I'm often asked where Ringo got the idea for William Weaver in Into the Looking Glass.
SFRevu: What's up with Fantasy? Why do you think Fantasy is having such a great run?
TT: I mean no disrespect to the Fantasy folks at all here, but it just isn't my cup of tea. I was on a panel with a Fantasy author who had written umpteen books and he told the crowd that he chose fantasy because it was easier. His words not mine. He said he didn't have to get the science right if he wrote fantasy. Personally, I fear that being a state of affairs in America. We are no longer doing the "hard" things. I mean, my parents? generation went to the Moon for God's sake. We can't even go 300 miles up without killing off our astronauts. I've always felt that SF was real writing because it was hard. Why is fantasy having such a great run? Maybe because we ain't puttin' enough real SF out.
SFRevu: I've described you as a "redneck rocket scientist", partly because it seems to fit, and partly because I like the sound of it. Are you one of the spin offs of the Space Program and its industrialization of the South? Are there any more like you back on the farm?
TT: My dad was a machinist on the Apollo program. I built a radio telescope for a high school science fair program and won a job working in a DOD lab. I've worked on and around various aspects of our nation's defense and space programs all my life. Almost everybody in Huntsville has a technical degree of some sort. My wife?s sister married a PhD Physicist. Most of the cycling team I ride with are scientist or engineers. My older (only) brother is an electrical engineer and a C130 crew chief in the Air Force - currently helping fight the war against terrorism. So, most folks I know are technically savvy.
SFRevu: Where is Science Fiction going, now that we live in the future? Does this future look anything like the one you were hoping for? I'm sure you'd like FTL drive and some other things, but is there anything that we've accomplished that you think is technologically cool?
TT: The Internet. Plain and simple, the Internet. I mean, who needs encyclopedias anymore. Other than that nah. Our current national research budget is basically nothing. There is almost zero 6.1 research funding which is the long range future of our country. We are only spending money to buy off the shelf ideas that have immediate uses. This has been going on since about 1992 or so and in a few decades it is really going to hurt us. Go look up the NASA Breakthrough Propulsion Physics budget - there isn't one! I'm very, very concerned that we are not investing in our nation's future like our Grandparents and Parents did with the Apollo programs and the Cold War investments. Very concerned.
SFRevu: Can you recommend three web sites that you visit regularly for information?
TT: Baen's Bar, FedBizOps, and Titansonline. But seriously, I only need one website regularly - Google. It'll take you where you need to go. Man they should've paid me for that.
SFRevu: Do you have any cons scheduled for the rest of the year?
TT: I'll be at Libertycon in July and then at a Fort Benning thing in Nov. I'm open for ideas for other cons.
SFRevu: What are you currently working on?
TT: Ah yes that. John Ringo and I are putting on the finishing touches to a book called Von Neumman's War, we just signed up to do the sequel to Into the Looking Glass together, and I'm also working on WS book 3 with Jason Cordova (about half done with that one), and the muse just hit me about a week or so ago on a new idea called Extraction Point and I've put everything down to write that one out of my head so I can get back to the others. I hope to finish it in a few weeks.
SFRevu: Many thanks.
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