Shawn Speakman: WAR DOGS is in fine bookstores now! Tell Unbound Worlds readers about the book?
Greg Bear: In WAR DOGS, I’m playing with a number of classic themes in SF–including space war, updated to reflect the attitudes of modern warriors. There’s more than a touch of cosmic intrigue, as well, and one of my favorite themes has always been, can you trust the angelic aliens when they arrive? In these books, not so much.
Shawn Speakman: You have written in many science fiction sub-genres: accelerated evolution, galactic conflict, artificial universes, and many more. Why was it a good time to tackle the space soldier sent to fight an alien race?
Greg Bear: I’ve had space warriors play key roles in my books for almost thirty years now! This time around, I had a picture in my head of a soldier home on leave, walking past JBLM on a side road, trying to hitchhike home–when suddenly a huge spaceship roars overhead and lands. I had to learn this soldier’s story. Turns out he’s a Skyrine, and his name is Michael Venn… and we’re going to follow him out to the distant Oort cloud and beyond.
Shawn Speakman: Who is Michael Venn? How did you create him?
Greg Bear: As a kid, I grew up around Navy officers and Marines, became quite familiar with the personalities and courtesies and social structures of the USN and to some extent the Marines. Back in the sixties, I read a lot of WW2 history in those fine Bantam/Ballantine editions, and military history has always been a favorite topic. Venn is a combination of my imagining of what I might have been like, had I gone to war, and all those warriors I brushed up against in my youth–including my father, my uncle, and Jack Vincent (later a DJ for KCPQ in San Diego)… Jack is in his nineties and still with us. The generation I grew up with, however, is rapidly going away.
Their voices and their stories stick with me to this day.
Shawn Speakman: Mars has been at the center of several of your novels. What is it about the Red Planet that keeps drawing you back? Would it be the planet you’d most like to visit?
Greg Bear: I’m familiar with Mars. I’ve been there before. Write what you know, isn’t that the advice? And somehow, I feel as if I know Mars. It’s a fascinating environment.
Shawn Speakman: You’ve written three novels based on the Halo video game universe. Did immersing yourself in Halo help in writing WAR DOGS at all? And will there be sequels?
Greg Bear: HALO was a fun and unique experience, far more interstellar and wide-ranging than what I plan for WAR DOGS–and far less contemporary! But given my mandate–tell us the history of the Forerunners who made the Halos, and those around them–I was never able to go back to my space warrior roots in books like EON and ETERNITY or ANVIL OF STARS, and I felt it was time to revisit those themes. For me, science fiction is like a folio of musical passages that I love to revisit and re-score, variations on past themes, my own and others’, mixing with new discoveries and new emotions. And many new surprises!
War Dogs by Greg Bear is in fine bookstores now!
Time to visit Titan!
Shawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”
He is also edited and published Unfettered, a fantasy anthology featuring some of the best writers in the genre. When Shawn isn’t lying for a living, he runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press.