Q&A with Michael Cassutt

Michael Cassutt’s latest novelette, “Unter,” is featured in our current issue [on sale now]. He also answered a few of our questions about the story’s creation and the other projects he’s been working on.


Asimov’s Editor: How did this story germinate? Was there a spark of inspiration, or did it come to you slowly?

MC: The genesis was Uber, of course, reversing the name and wondering what sort of sharing might result. Since people in hypnotic or drugged states are frequently said to be “under,” the idea of brain- or experience-sharing was logical.


AE: What is your history with Asimov’s?

MC: I published my first story, “A Star is Born,” in 1983 and have contributed half a dozen other pieces since then. It is the SF magazine I have read longest and most consistently.


AE: What is your process?

MC: In forty years of writing for print and screen, I’ve probably tried all the major methods. What seems to work best is to take the basic trigger—an image, a character, a setting—and then make notes, possibly even a list of story beats or moments. Then just start writing, a thousand words a day for fiction, five pages of text for a script. Then do a major revision once followed by final tweaks. I’m a 2.5 draft writer.


AE: What other projects are you currently working on?

MC: I have a major nonfiction work, The Astronaut Maker, being published by Chicago Review Press in August. It is the biography of George W. S. Abbey, a NASA official who worked on the Apollo, Skylab, Shuttle, and International Space Station programs in positions of ascending power for 37 years.

I am most active, of course, in television, currently writing for SyFy Channel’s Z NATION, now in production for its fifth season.

In fiction, I have a novella coming up in a Wild Cards (George R. R. Martin, editor) anthology next year.


AE: What SFnal prediction would you like to see come true?

MC: Life extension, though from the middle years, not the later ones.


AE: What are you reading right now?

MC: I’ve recently been reading Nebula-nominated novels by Theodora Goss and Laura Elena Donnelly, as well as a bunch of the short fiction by Sarah Pinsker, my current favorite, Fran Wilde, and others.



Michael Cassutt is currently working as a writer/producer on Season 5 of SyFy’s Z Nation as well as its Netflix spinoff, Black Summer. In his other role as nonfiction writer, Michael’s new book, The Astronaut Maker: How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spaceflight for a Generation, a biography of the fascinating George W.S. Abbey of NASA, will be published by Chicago Review Press in late summer 2018.

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