Prolific author James Gunn has been a regular in our Tables of Contents this past year—he discusses this serial project in our latest editor/author Q&A! Two tales from this universe are in the March/April issue on sale now.
Asimov’s Editors: Jim, our readers have seen a lot of you in our pages over this past year (for which we are grateful!), can you give an overview of this project? What was it like revisiting these characters?
James Gunn: When I finished the Transcendental trilogy, I discovered that I wasn’t finished with the universe (or, to be more precise, the arm of the galaxy) that I had created and the characters who inhabited it. That is how novels turn into trilogies. Authors can’t let go. Even a trilogy is restricted by the requirements of the overall narrative in what its characters can do and say. In Transcendental, eight of my characters tell their stories about how they came to join this pilgrimage to find the Transcendental Machine, but first-person narrative is limited to what that character has experienced and remembers, filtered through the uncertain and unreliable memories and needs of the narrator. I thought of telling their stories more completely, through the perception of an unbiased third-person narrator, and sharing these stories with a larger audience. I discussed the project with Sheila, and she encouraged me to tackle the project over dinner in the Drum Room of the President Hotel at MidAmeriCon. And so it was done, with the addition of a narrative from the viewpoint of Riley’s pedia and an essay about space opera and the Transcendental trilogy’s place in it.
AE: Do you particularly relate to any of the characters in these stories?
JG: An author gets attached to his characters: It’s like living with someone, or a group of someones, sharing their lives, their thoughts, their desires and fears, and most of all, in Transcendental the events that brought them together. Because these characters were cooped up in a spaceship for months, they got to know each other better than most people have the chance to do, and they became real to me. I liked them all, but I was particularly fond of Asha and Tordor, and so, as the trilogy developed, I couldn’t let Tordor be destroyed in the deadly city of the Transcendental Machine.
AE: What made you think of Asimov’s for these stories? What is your history with Asimov’s? Continue reading “Q&A with James Gunn”