James Alan Gardner is fast becoming one of science fiction's veteran authors. His ever-growing list of published short fiction has appeared in Amazing, Asimov's, Galaxies, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nature, On-Spec, Tesseracts 3-6, and other venues. Winner of the Grand Prize for Short Fiction in the 1989 Writers Of The Future contest, Gardner has been a finalist for and has won the Aurora award, the Canadian version of the Hugo, for Best Short Work in English; he has also been a finalist for both the Hugo and Nebula for his short fiction. He's published five novels through Eos; his latest, Ascending, was released in November 2001, and is available through the Science Fiction Book Club and your local bookstore. Born and raised in Canada, he now lives in Kitchener, Ontario with his wife Linda Carson and his confused but earnest rabbit, Basil. This interview was conducted over the course of late October/early November 2001 via email.
Louis Bright-Raven: Is there any significant difference between the American and Canadian SF scenes? We in America rarely hear of what's happening in the Canadian (or other English-speaking) scenes.
James Alan Gardner: I think there is a difference between Canadian and U.S. science fiction, but it's a very subtle shading. Here's a simple example. In the U.S., there are two basic scenarios for dealing with alien races:
(1) Cowboys and Indians. In other words, automatic culture clashes, even when both sides say they're trying to get along. Sometimes the humans are the cowboys and the aliens are the Indians, sometimes it's the other way around; sometimes the humans are the good guys and sometimes the aliens are the virtuous ones; but alien/human relations tend to play out along the lines of nearly insurmountable differences, leading to kneejerk hostilities.
(2) The melting pot. The foremost example of this is Star Wars, where aliens and humans intermingle with no discernible cultural differences.
There are plenty of variations on these two scenarios depending on surrounding circumstances, and I don't mean to say that such stories are bad or simplistic; they're true to a lot of human experience. When different cultures bump up against each other, you often get war or assimilation.
But Canadians often write about a third scenario -- a very Canadian one. We call it the "salad bowl" as opposed to the melting pot: different cultures get tossed together but they aren't expected to change to some new identity. The most prominent example in Canada is the French/English divide. This often is a source of friction (and sometimes national crises), but we've never gone to war about it, or seriously attempted assimilation. The French remain French; the English remain English; native peoples remain native peoples; immigrants remain as faithful to their original cultures as they wish to be. Canadians sometimes complain about the inconvenience of a fragmented populace. . .but ultimately, we're terrified of the very idea of assimilation. Assimilation is, after all, our #1 nightmare: getting sucked up into the U.S. We are horrified by that omnipresent prospect, and therefore, we are culturally opposed to imposing the same sort of thing on other people.
What does this have to do with science fiction? Canadian science fiction is usually "polite" about human interactions with aliens and other creatures. First Contact doesn't mean war or a quick integration; it means a prolonged period of feeling each other out, careful not to intrude on the other side's "sovereignty." I think this shows up in all my work, but most notably in Vigilant. There, the Ooloms and humans coexist more or less amiably, but they don't interact with each other much except in the civil service. That is so Canadian.
LBR: Your works tend to lean towards social science fiction as opposed to hard or technical SF. Do you believe that an understanding of the humanities is as important, or more important, to our future than the technical sciences?
JAG: Technology is the engine; the humanities are the steering wheel and the brakes. The humanities don't create nearly as much force for getting things done as technology does, but technology is just plain lousy at directing its energy or managing itself. Therefore I don't believe either of the "two solitudes" is more important than the other; both are necessary and both would be helpless or dangerous without one another.
Unfortunately, people tend to lean toward one realm or the other, as if the two were opposing sides in a war of intellectual supremacy. Humanists seldom make an effort to understand and love science the way that scientists do; scientists usually approach the humanities with an air of indulgent superiority, as if a bit of science could solve every humanistic problem without difficulty. There are, of course, exceptions -- people who genuinely appreciate both halves of the equation -- but those people are exceptions, and there aren't enough of them.
Science fiction writers have the potential to bridge some of the gap. Almost by definition, a science fiction writer is someone who loves science, yet who's also dedicated to the art of writing, and to thinking about the effects of science, rather than just the science itself. We writers don't have a whole lot of influence with either camp -- the mainstream literary world ignores us, and scientists are often wary of us too -- but we do care a great deal about both science and art. Sometimes, we can bring the two together.
LBR: That's a rather astute observation about SF authors. Yet it seems that many are steeped in the sciences professionally, and sometimes I think they're too close to science and lose the "art of writing" aspect. Do you get that feeling from the community as well?
JAG: Some writers are still blindly enamored with science and gadgetry, but I don't think it's as prevalent as it once was. Almost everybody these days pays lip service to literary value; some people talk the talk without walking the walk, but I do believe that most SF/fantasy writers are aiming above the least common denominator.
LBR: You've discussed your preference for writing stories in the first person before. Have you ever written anything with several characters each telling the story in the first person, so that the story is told from several different viewpoints simultaneously, in a sort of "Round Robin" effect?
JAG: In a novella called "A Young Person's Guide to the Organism" (published in Amazing Stories, April 1992), I wrote about a collection of people who each encounter the same huge creature out in space. The story takes place over several years as the creature slowly drifts from the orbit of Mars to the orbit of Mercury. The creature does almost nothing at all; but the people who come across it impose their own perceptions on what the creature is, whether it's dangerous, what it wants, and so on.
Structurally, the novella is based on "A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," a musical work by Benjamin Britten. Basically, the musical piece starts with the whole orchestra playing a theme, then each individual instrument plays a variation on the theme (first the flute, then the oboe, then the clarinet, and so on). In my novella, the theme is "First Encounter" and the variations are the stories of different people meeting the alien. At the end of the musical piece, Britten puts the orchestra back together with a fugue, where all the instruments come back in, one by one, until they're all storming away in a grand finale. In my story, I bring back all the individual story-tellers one by one, in a grand confrontation with the creature close to the sun. . .until the final resolution leads to First Contact with the League of Peoples. (Yes, this was the first published story that mentioned the League.)
I'm still quite happy with this story. Structurally, it's the most ambitious thing I've ever done, but I think it works pretty well. . .even if it is blatant grandstanding.
LBR: Which is more challenging for you, short fiction or novels?
JAG: I tend to write short fiction in a fever, when I get a good idea and have to splat it out as fast as possible. If I'm not in a fever, writing short stories is as painful as pulling teeth -- I can still write them, but they feel forced. I'm likely to put them away half-finished, because there's no point working on something mediocre. Short stories have to be screaming with life, or they're just exercises in technique.
Novels also have to be screaming with life, but in my experience, the life always comes. I've spent at least a year on each of my books, and in the course of that year, there's always time for something to wake up inside the work. Sometimes I've written the first twenty pages a dozen times, in a dozen tones of voice, picking different spots at which to pick up the action, different viewpoints, and so on. Eventually, I stumble across something that hits me with its chemistry and its prospects for going in interesting directions; then I know I can write a strong book.
LBR: I can relate to that. I've put a lot of short fiction of my own "away" on disc. The problem then becomes, when do you return to it and finish it, if at all?
JAG: Exactly. Once in a while I return to stories I've shelved, but it doesn't happen very often. On the other hand, Expendable was essentially a shelved novel, and I did return to it eventually.
LBR: Something I've noticed about your style of writing is its visual descriptiveness, particularly that of characters and their appearance. Do you have an actively visual mind that demands such detail when writing, or is it an approach you've developed for the benefit of the reader?
JAG: I'd actually say I have an auditory mind -- I hear all the scenes in my head, the characters speaking, the background sounds, and so on. I also hear the flow of the narrator's words. . .and if I do visual descriptions well (thank you), it's because I like vivid words. Of course, I do visualize the scenes, but I think it's the choice of good words that brings the scenes alive.
The other thing that brings descriptions alive is the presence of a strong (and usually opinionated) viewpoint character. My characters don't just look at a scene -- they interact with the scene and respond to it emotionally.
Therefore it isn't just a rainy day; it's a day "when the drizzle started on my hair, soaked it good and flat, then began running down my cheeks, under my collar, and oozing through my bulky-knit sweater until the wool hung on my arms as heavy as a drenched sheep. . .but the damp wasn't content to quit there, and every step I took, I could feel the rain seeping insistently through my underwear. A twenty-mile walk in this was really going to chafe." Now I think that's a good descriptive passage, but you'll notice there are no visuals at all. It's purely tactile, with the added auditory pleasure of words like "oozing" and "chafe." What really makes the passage come alive is the clear presence of a narrator experiencing all the dribbling wetness, and responding appropriately. If readers can "see" this scene, it's because they automatically put themselves in the narrator's place and fill in a bunch of details from their own imaginations.
LBR: Silly me. I referred to it as "visual writing," when in fact it's sensory writing.
JAG: Yes, it's sensory writing, but even more, it's character-centered. I'm not just describing the rain, I'm telling the story of a character's encounter with the rain. The story takes place over time (as the effects of the rain get worse) and it indicates the character's reactions to the rain as well as the mere sensations.
When I was a student at Clarion West in 1989, Lucius Shepard suggested we should all make a conscious effort to notice the order in which we observed details whenever we entered a room. For example, did we notice noises first or visuals? How did our eyes track around the room, taking things in? Did we fix our attention on something within the first second, or did we keep looking around? By paying attention to the way we actually experienced a room, we could do a better job of reproducing a character's experiences for a reader.
LBR: Given your rather descriptive sensibilities, have you an interest in other forms of writing such as screenplays, teleplays, or comic books? Have these forms been an influence over your work?
JAG: I started reading comics when I was five, and I still read them now. I've never tried to write one, but I've certainly considered it from time to time. I keep thinking I should send letters to Marvel and DC, telling them I'm available. . . .
LBR: Now that would be an interesting fit. What characters would you be interested in pursuing?
JAG: I haven't really thought about specific characters. I love practically anything that Alan Moore writes, but I know better than to think I could take on, say, Top 10 and do as good a job.
Either I'd do something new of my own, or else I'd take on a character who's currently unused and see what I could do. The first two unused characters who come to mind are the Atom (DC) and Shang Chi (Marvel), but I don't have any ideas for them off the cuff. They're just characters who might be interesting to play around with.
As for other media, I've written a number of plays and radio dramas, not to mention a fair number of songs. For a long time, I didn't write stories at all. . .and I usually performed the stuff that I wrote. I did a number of coffee houses during university, singing and playing piano, and also wrote for various theatrical groups on campus.
Later on, I did a good deal of improv theatre, which I think had a big influence on my writing. With anything I write, the first draft is basically a series of improv scenes building on one another. Then I go back and rewrite to clean up the messy bits. I've never done anything significant with screenplays. Yes, I've goofed around with movie and TV ideas, but never seriously. Maybe someday. . . .
LBR: When you created the Explorer Corps for your novels, one of the prerequisites for the organization was that Explorers have to have a physical or mental abnormality that makes them social outcasts. Hence, many of your characters (if not all) sport characteristics that make them less than the "model" appearance of the prototypical adventure protagonist. Why did you embark in this particular direction?
JAG: I've talked about my background in improv. Back then, I used to improvise monologues at the typewriter (yes, this was back in the days of typewriters); I'd take on a voice and just go with it, with no plan at all about what might come out.
In 1976, I began writing for a musical-comedy revue group at the University of Waterloo. That year we did a Star Trek parody, and the show had a character called the Expendable Crew Member. The ECM was, of course, the poor schmuck who accompanied the regular cast into dangerous situations and always got slaughtered. In the show, the ECM was a running gag: he'd walk on stage, get killed in some colorful way, and then the play would continue.
Some time after that, I was improvising at the typewriter and began to write in the voice of the ECM. In the show, the ECM had been a man; but for some reason, when I was improvising, it became the voice of a woman who identified herself as Festina Ramos. She just began ranting, "Oh, so you think being an ECM is funny? Well let me tell you exactly why we're considered expendable."
And the first 100 pages of Expendable ripped out like that in just a few days. It was entirely unplanned. I don't believe in "channeling" characters or any such mumbo-jumbo; Festina was just something in my own subconscious that came barreling out for reasons I'll never understand. I didn't question what I was writing -- I just wrote.
Basically, that initial head-rush lasted right up to the point where the Explorers landed on Melaquin, the "planet of no return." Then the momentum stopped, and I had no idea what happened next. I made a few feeble attempts to continue now and then, but never anything that worked. It was only fifteen years later that I said, "This is ridiculous, I've got to finish the damned thing," and I finally got the story going again.
LBR: Obviously Festina Ramos is one of your favorite characters, as she has appeared in three of your novels. How did you come to develop the character?
JAG: Festina developed herself (or more accurately, she emerged on her own from my subconscious). Later on, my editor at Eos (Jennifer Brehl) wanted me to write more Festina stories, so I hit on the approach that I've taken in subsequent books.
A novel is typically the story of someone going through a major changing point in his or her life. Most people just don't have that many major changing points; I certainly didn't want to have Festina changing, then changing, then changing with every new book. Therefore, I decided that each Festina book would center on a new character who was going through some significant crisis.
Festina would appear as a troubleshooter who'd help the central character reach some satisfying resolution. . .but the major changes would happen to someone else, not Festina herself. Therefore in all the Festina books after Expendable (which is Festina's own story), Festina doesn't show up until a hundred pages or more into the story. I like her a lot and she really helps keep things moving, but keeping her just a bit off center-stage means I don't have to keep changing her in substantial ways.
LBR: Yet she does change -- at least on a superficial level, or through the perceptions of those she interacts with.
JAG: Yes, Festina does change bit by bit, but she doesn't go through the sort of major upheaval that happened in Expendable or that affects the central characters in the other books. In Vigilant, for example, (SPOILER ALERT!) Festina falls in love but eventually decides she has to return to her regular duties; however, the lead character (Faye Smallwood) completely reevaluates her life, resolves past issues with her father, and finds a new sense of purpose. So Festina changes a little, while Faye heads off in a whole new direction.
LBR: Tell us a bit more about the League of Peoples. What first gave you the idea for the League?
JAG: When I was a kid, I loved science fiction that had no limits: yes, you could exceed the speed of light; yes, you could sneak around the laws of thermodynamics; yes, you could create anti-gravity fields, time machines, and all those other fun things.
So I wanted that kind of universe -- one with no ceiling on scientific achievement. Given that, it's inevitable that there are alien races who far surpass human technology. Just think of how our modern tech compares to what people had two or three hundred years ago; and if there are intelligent aliens at all, some of them are bound to be thousands or millions of years ahead of Homo sapiens science. That means that they could easily use a combination of bioengineering, body augmentation, etc. to make themselves incomparably superior to us little old humans.
Next question: if there are creatures like that out in space -- not just slightly ahead of us, but vastly -- and if there are probably lesser species too, who are somewhat ahead of us but not by millions of years -- why don't we have any concrete evidence of these aliens' presence? I decided there could be only one reason: whoever was at the top of the totem pole must have told everyone else to leave Earth alone. No one was allowed to conquer or assimilate us; we were to be left to our own devices. (Hey, do you sense a common thread here?)
Given all these considerations, I began to contemplate what those top aliens would be like. They aren't what humans might consider benevolent -- otherwise, they'd be actively trying to help us -- but they would believe in "Live and let live." Which led to the League's central philosophy and everything else we've seen of them.
I want to point out, by the way, that in all the books I've written, the League has done almost nothing. I've read reviews where the League is called a deus ex machina. . .but in fact, the only time they've actually taken tangible action is in the first chapter of Hunted. The rest of the time, what actually happens is people saying, "We have to do this to please the League," or "We can't do that or the League will get mad." The League isn't present, it doesn't give orders, and it doesn't explain what it wants. Instead, you have a whole lot of people trying to second-guess the League, contorting their behavior one way or another because they think sort of maybe this might kind of be what the League will tolerate.
LBR: Are there plans for an origin story for the League? Or perhaps a story of when Earthlings were first accepted into the League of Peoples, and how we managed to achieve membership?
JAG: "The Young Person's Guide to the Organism" was the first contact story. Ascending gives more background information on what actually happened when humans were "uplifted by the League."
LBR: If such a thing as the League of Peoples exists out there in the Universe, and they made themselves known to us, how do you suppose we humans would react? Would they stop us from entering interstellar space, given our history of violence and self-destructiveness?
JAG: I think they'd behave as they do in the books. Humans certainly have the potential for terrible acts; but most people, most of the time, are decent creatures without murder in their hearts. We aren't saints, but we aren't casual killers. Average folks in the street might kill in self-defense or in defense of friends and family, but not just because they don't like your face.
Of course, there are people who'll murder for lesser reasons, or for no reason at all. The League considers them dangerous non-sentients and will exterminate them without remorse if they try to leave our solar system.
LBR: In Expendable, one of the themes you touch on is society's tendency to find ways of hiding or ridding itself of what it deems undesirables. Members of the Explorer Corps, as we've mentioned, have various physical deformities that mark them as outcasts. The significance of society versus the individual (in this case Festina Ramos) is dominant. Is there more to the message of individuality being more important than societal acceptance?
JAG: I wouldn't say that society gets rid of unwanted people. What happens in Expendable (and, I believe, in real life) is that individuals get rid of the unwanted, and society doesn't care enough to put a stop to the practice.
In Expendable, and all the other Festina novels, the recurring "bad guys" are the admirals in the navy's High Council. These admirals are ruthless and corrupt, holding onto their positions by various tricks and schemes. . .but they're smart enough not to go too far (partly because they're afraid of the League of Peoples). Civilian society lets the admirals get away with it, simply because the civilians can't be bothered to stick up for the underdog. (There's an old saying: "In order for evil men to triumph, all you need is that good men do nothing.")
LBR: I agree with that. Very nice clarification.
JAG: But when I wrote Expendable, I wasn't thinking a lot about the individual vs. society. My theme was actually "professionalism." Festina and most other Explorers are set apart from the rest of the Technocracy, not by their "blemishes," but by their discipline.
Look at the way Festina regards regular navy personnel: in Expendable, she always portrays them as childish and juvenile. Festina is an unreliable narrator -- all my narrators are -- and the way she describes people like Captain Prope is wildly prejudiced. Festina disdains them; she considers them unprofessional. Much of the book consists of Festina forcing herself to act professional when surrounded by people who don't come up to her standards. Of course, the ultimate unprofessional is the glass woman, Oar: utterly child-like, and (just to get Festina's goat) nearly indestructible. Festina is obsessed with her own vulnerability to all kinds of threats; Oar is essentially invulnerable, not to mention conceited, thoughtless, and uneducated. Oar is also quite lovable. She might be the reverse of Festina in many ways, but there's plenty of room for the two to be friends.
LBR: Interesting. Perhaps the two themes are interrelated, from the viewpoint of Festina Ramos. Festina (and the other ECMs) are so disciplined that they would almost never look the other way when some wrong was committed, and also because of the way they are treated by others in the navy. They've had to rise above the non-concern that I was referring to in society.
JAG: Good point.
LBR: About Oar being the "ultimate unprofessional," as you just suggested: wouldn't that make her more unpredictable, more effective in some ways, than someone as disciplined as Festina Ramos? Or is she just potentially so, given her lack of education and social skill?
JAG: Indeed. I'm interested in the clash between discipline and the lack thereof. Obviously both have their strengths and weaknesses. This is one reason why I keep banging Festina up against characters who are more intuitive/spontaneous. In every Festina book, her most important companion is someone who is much more "unfettered" than she is (Oar, Faye, and Edward).
LBR: In Commitment Hour, you deal with the theme of sexuality in a decidedly unique fashion. The population's annual change from male to female is symbolic of the dual nature of our personalities, and the effects that our physical maturation process has on that; it also explores the social awkwardness caused by our sexuality through the relationships of the characters. What gave you the idea to tackle such an ambitious subject in such a manner?
JAG: I seldom remember where ideas come from. I wrote the basics of Commitment Hour as a novella many years before I decided to turn it into a book; wherever the original seed came from, I can't remember. Frankly, it's just cool to imagine the opportunity to experience life as both male and female; it's also dramatic to force a character to choose which one (s)he'll be permanently.
However, there's a temptation to think that a personal familiarity with both genders would somehow "fix" one's sexual problems. I didn't want to say that at all. Characters in Commitment Hour still have plenty of difficulties with relationships, which is my way of saying that difficulties arise because you're different people, not because you're different genders. In fact, the residents of Tober Cove are just as gender-biased as anyone else. People are required to fit into restricted sex roles, which is justified by saying, "You freely chose to be female, so now you can only do female things." Only outsiders like Rashid, Steck, and Zephram are prepared to allow for looser restrictions. They aren't so quick to attribute all differences to mere gender.
LBR: That's true. In some ways, the residents of Tober Cove are more restrictive. Maybe it was just my interpretation, but I understood it that while you were one gender, while you had memory of being the other, you weren't linked to the other gender's mindset, and that caused some of the bias. Only those like Steck really had an understanding of both, because they were both.
JAG: Yes, that's more or less it. Your experiences as one gender were more immediate than your experiences as the opposite gender. For Neuts like Steck, both genders had the same weight (for reasons explained in the book's climax).
LBR: In Hunted, you touch on an issue that is a heated topic of discussion in the world of science today -- genetic engineering. In your books, tampering with genetics has been outlawed, and the lead character and his sibling are found out to have been genetically engineered. The lead character, Edward, is considered mentally challenged -- and his sister, while genetically perfect, isn't necessarily playing with a full deck, either, as we come to discover in the story. I thought this was an interesting aspect -- it seems that no matter what the physical results of genetic manipulation may be, there's a price to be paid mentally/psychologically. Was this your intent, or just something that came about as the story progressed?
JAG: In large part, this was just something I was forced into because of what I consider scientific inevitability. I'm writing about an age four hundred years in the future. If scientific development continues unabated -- and of course, that's a big if, since there are lots of things that could cause civilization to collapse or stagnate -- but if development continues, it's hard to imagine that Homo sapiens will exist as we know it four centuries from now.
Humanity isn't going to be destroyed; it's going to be replaced incrementally by offspring who have been engineered to be different from their parents. Some of it will come from gene-tinkering, and some will come from various kinds of mechanical augmentation. There'll still be a few pure human hold-outs, but they'll be curiosities like the Amish. I truly believe the majority of our descendants will be qualitatively non-human. There will certainly be attempts to outlaw human modification, but in the long term, they won't succeed.
On the other hand, I wanted to write about recognizably human people in the year 2452. So what could I do? How could I reconcile the likelihood of radical change with my desire to write about good old Homo sapiens?
My solution was to say that juggling the human genome was simply more difficult than anyone ever imagined. It's still possible -- remember, I like universes with infinite possibility -- but in the League of Peoples stories, genetic experimentation is so difficult, and so likely to lead to disastrous results, that most governments have banned it. This is why Festina et al. are still perfectly human.
I might point out that the same limitation doesn't apply to the aliens that I called the Divians. Their genome is easier to engineer, which is why they've created a number of subspecies that appear in various books.
LBR: Tell us about your new novel, Ascending.
JAG: Ascending is the story of Oar, who first appeared in Expendable. Oar is a member of an artificial humanoid race who never age and can withstand many dangers that would kill terrestrial human beings. However, her species has a terrible flaw: around age 50, their brains become "tired," leading to a sort of bored senility. They just lose interest in the world. To me, this is as frightening as actual death; and the prospect is equally frightening to Oar, who's 49 years old and on the verge of succumbing to her racial curse. The action centers around her deteriorating thought processes and her attempts to save herself from her fate.
The book also features Festina Ramos, who shows up in time to help Oar face a number of threats. In the course of events, Festina learns what really happened four hundred years earlier when the "League of Peoples" showed up to uplift the human race. I don't want to give too much away, but the situation isn't nearly as simple (or as benign) as previously believed.
This, by the way, is one of the lovely aspects of writing in the first person. I mentioned earlier that all my narrators are unreliable. In every one of my books, the narrators tell outright lies. Sometimes it's obvious from context that they're lying; sometimes it's not. Sometimes the lies are deliberate; sometimes they're telling what they believe is the truth, but not what I (the omniscient author) know is actually going on. It's fun to play such games.
LBR: Damn, that leaves me with all sorts of questions, but I don't want to pry for spoilers. So just one -- you say Oar is an artificial humanoid. Is it safe to ask whether or not who created Oar's race will be addressed in the book?
JAG: Yes, that question will be answered.
LBR: We've lost a healthy number of venerable science fiction and fantasy authors in the past couple of years, such as Poul Anderson, Douglas Adams, Gordon Dickson, L. Sprague de Camp, and A.E. van Vogt, among others. Some of these talents have been the visionaries of SF from its beginnings. Now that these talents have passed on, what or who do you see on the horizon as those who will envision the future for the next generation of SF readers?
JAG: Everyone who's writing science fiction today, plus everyone who comes along in our footsteps. Science fiction is a gestalt: it's Ursula K. LeGuin to Buck Rogers, Star Trek to Gene Wolfe, rockets and ray-guns to the deepest reflections on existence. Why kick anyone out of the party? Even the worst schlock might inspire some twelve-year-old to magnificence.
Louis Bright-Raven has been a writer/illustrator/editor in the comic book and SF industry since 1994. He lives in Nevada. He invites you to check out his Web site, Constellation Studios, for more information about him, his work, and the work of other talents.
Visit James Alan Gardner's Web site.