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Interview with Paul Melko

I first met Paul Melko at a convention several years back and was impressed then with his intellect and his passion about writing.  He has a new book coming out today and I thought I'd introduce him to the rest of you.  Paul lives in Ohio with his beautiful wife and four fairly wonderful children. He is an active member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, where he sits on the board of directors as the South-Central Regional Director and is chair of the Grievance Committee.

Paul's fiction has appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, Spider Magazine, The Year's Best Science Fiction, Talebones, and other magazines and anthologies.  His work has been translated into Spanish, Hungarian, Czech, and Russian, and it has been nominated for the Sturgeon, Nebula, and Hugo Awards.  Singularity's Ring is his first novel.

Here's the link for his new book.

http://www.tor-forge.com/singularitysring

1) What was your inspiration for writing Singularity's Ring?

This is all Lou Anders' fault.  He was inviting authors to write stories for his upcoming anthology entitled Live Without a Net back in 2001.  "Give me something where the internet and computers are not the be-all and end-all of technology.  Give me something different," he said.  "What kind of future would that be?" I wondered, thinking his anthology wouldn't find a lot of takers.  Of course, my subconscious rolled the idea over and over, and by the next morning I had the genesis of "Singletons in Love."  That story went on to be reprinted in Dozois' The Year's Best Science Fiction, and it became the second chapter of Singularity's Ring.

2) Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

As a youth, I read to escape and loved a good science fiction yarn: Heinlein, Farmer, Harrison, Haldeman, and Panshin.  These days, I'm reading more YA fiction as my daughter starts to read: Westerfeld,  Rowland, and Tolkien.  Just this last week, my son started reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  It's been fun to re-read it with him.

3) Summarize the book for our viewers.

Singularity's Ring is set several decades in the future, and the world has collapsed in a technological cataclysm.  Most of humanity has died or disappeared in a singularity event, and what is left of humanity is being shepherded carefully by Pod Society.  Pods are an experiment in multiple humans: duos, trios, quartets, and quintets of humans that share thoughts and emotions among themselves.  The environment is unstable and the world seems on the brink of another cataclysm.  Apollo Papadopulos has been bred to fly a starship through the Rift, a remnant of the singularity event.  Only forces don't want him to succeed.  And, amazingly, someone has come down the space elevator from the supposedly empty Ring.

4) Why did you decide to make Apollo a quintet?

My protagonist is not one person, but five.  Lou Anders didn't want silicon computers, so I created a biological computer:  Apollo Papadopulos is five humans altered to think as one.  As such, his thoughts benefit from the synergism of their network; he can make great intuitive leaps, understand things quickly, and come to more logical conclusions.  Of course, there's a trade-off.  You or I would see him (them) standing still, grasping hands for seconds at a time while he (they) come to consensus.

5) What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

Recently I took up Taekwondo.  My children started last year, and it looked like so much fun, I joined them.  I was right; it was fun.  We're all blue belts.  We've managed to not break anything in the house yet.

6) What sort of research did you do to write this book?/What kind of preparation do you do when you are writing?

Singularity's Ring is an adventure story that follows Apollo from the Rockies to Geosynchronous Earth Orbit to the Amazon and Congo.  There's also, of course, an orbital structure, the Ring.  The scope of the book allowed me to draw on the details of these exotic locales, as well as create a technological artifact that's larger in diameter than the Earth.

7)  What are you writing now?

I just turned in the novel-version of my Hugo-, Nebula-, and Sturgeon-nominated novella "The Walls of the Universe."  This is a parallel universe story in which one version of my protagonist tricks another version out of his life.  Farmboy John Rayburn is cast into the multiverse, and tries to get home again.

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