INTERVIEW WITH RICK WILBER + GIVEAWAY OF ALIEN MORNING

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Today, I’m excited to welcome Rick Wilber to Bookwraiths to answer a few questions about his latest science fiction novel, Alien Morning.  The great people over at Tor Books were also good enough to provide three copies of the novel for a Giveaway!  So after enjoying the short Q&A, please enter for your chance to win.

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Hi, Mr. Wilber. Thank you taking the time to answer a few questions!

You’re entirely welcome!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you and your work, could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’ve been writing and selling science fiction short stories to the major magazines since the early 1980s, averaging one or two a year. I’ve published a couple of short-story collections, edited a few anthologies, and Alien Morning is my third novel (and second novel for Tor Books). Since the start of the new millennium I’ve edited a few anthologies, too, which I enjoyed. I won the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History-Short Form in 2012 for the story, “Something Real,” which offered an alternate history look at famous baseball player and spy Moe Berg. Over the years I’ve published a number of stories about the S’hudonni Empire, which I envision as a mercantile alien empire that seeks profit from its colonies. “Alien Morning” is the first in a three-novel trilogy that tells us about some humans and some S’hudonni individuals as their lives intersect in ways that are sometimes caring and sometimes tragic, in much the same that the S’hudonni Empire and the people of Earth work their way carefully through the same mix of violent conflicts and, occasionally, happier alliances.

At its core, what is the major theme of Alien Morning?

I think the principal theme is the inevitability of change. We all change, some of us alien-morningmore rapidly than others. Cultures change, too, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. My protagonist, a guy name Peter Holman, goes through a number of change in the first novel, from a pro basketball player to a major media star, to serving as a kind of public-relations front for the newly arrived S’hudonni aliens. His emotional life changes considerably as he struggles to understand what is happening around him and what his role is with the S’hudonni. And, of course, Earth changes dramatically as the S’hudonni work to find ways to make their new colony planet profitable. The stresses of all these changes brings internal, familial, and cultural conflicts – sometimes violent ones – to Peter Holman and those around him, as well as to all of Earth, and even to the S’hudonni, who are not without their own internal power struggles.

When did the idea for this novel come to you, and how long did it take to go from idea to finished product? Any major rethinking of its main concepts along the way?

There are two answers to that. I’ve been writing about the S’hudonni in one form or another for nearly 25 years. But the idea for this novel as a particular story within that S’hudonni series of stories is more recent. I had a novella, “Several Items of Interest,” that ran in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine in 2010, and was later republished in the Audible Audio book, “The Year’s Top SF Short Novels.” It was that novella that got me thinking about writing a particular novel that painted a bigger picture of the S’hudonni and their empire and how it impacted Earth and, in particular, a few deeply involved people. Editor Jim Frenkel, then at Tor, thought it would make a good trilogy and that led me to see it in a whole new way. And talk about rethinking the main concepts! Whew, once I got into it a novel length it seemed liked everything changed and improved. Each step of the way I felt like I was exploring new territory in terms of plot, and relationships between characters, and setting. It was a roller-coaster there for a while, hanging onto all this new material. But it was worth it in the end.

Is there a particular emotion or meaning you hope to evoke in Alien Morning’s readers?

Funny you should ask it that way, since I hope that hope is the particular emotion that’s evoked in Alien Morning’s readers. There are several serious setbacks and crises my characters go through in the novel, but they always continue to hope that they’ll prevail. I’ll let you discover on your own how, or even if, they do prevail.

If you had to compare Alien Morning to other science fiction novels, which would you chose and why?

It’s certainly a first-contact novel, and that’s a sub-genre vein that is well-mined, for sure, starting most recently with the new much-talked about film, “Arrival,” that comes from Ted Chiang’s terrific novella, “The Story of Your Life,” and going back all the way H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds.” What I’ve tried to do in Alien Morning is present some aliens who have their own internal differences that are reflective of differences on Earth. And one alien, Twoclicks, is a character I’m pretty happy with. He’s a genial sort, who likes to make jokes and promises a soft touch when it comes to his leadership over large portions of Earth; but he’s also possessed of overwhelming power, and unafraid to use it when he must. So I’d like to think he’s hard to figure out. He’s very changeable, which circles us right back to our theme.

I’ve read that mercantilism is a major theme in your writing? When did you become interested in this area, and how has it worked its way into your stories?

I’m interested in the profit-motive as the driving force for colonization. The idea of mercantilism – this is an oversimplification, for sure – is that you should control trade to bring yourself profits, and a good way to create that kind of trade is establish a colony and control its economy in such a way as to bring profit to the home country. I’ve read extensively about the Hudson Bay Company, the East India Company, and the Dutch East India Company and others. They were quasi-governmental, private companies that sought to milk colonies for profit. These mercantile empires were mostly a 16th-19th century phenomenon, but I wondered what an alien culture of that sort might do if it came to Earth. That sort of thinking led me into the S’hudonni Mercantile Empire stories.

Baseball and science fiction seems a strange mixture, but you’ve managed to successfully merge the two in many of your published works for years. Why do you keep coming back to it, and what is the secret to your success with it?

The secret to my success is a good change-up and getting ahead on the count. Oh, wait, no. More seriously, I grew up in a baseball family. My father played for the Cardinals, Phillies and Red Sox, and along with my brothers and sisters I grew up in the game as we traveled with Dad to various cities and towns where his work was to play baseball, or coach, or manage in Triple-A, or scout. I played a lot of baseball growing up, including some college ball on scholarship and then many, many years playing semi-pro ball. I was a decent pitcher, a good infielder, and a so-so hitter. But that was good enough for my level of play. So I know the game deeply, not so much as a fan, cheering on a particular team or player (though I’m a season-ticket holder to the Tampa Bay Rays, who play not far from where I live), but as an athlete who had a certain facility for throwing, catching and hitting baseballs. I know basketball just about as well and played some college ball in that sport, too. Same with football, though I came to hate the violence of that game, which is more fun to watch than it is to suffer through, trust me. So, when I wanted to write interior fiction, it was often baseball players that I used as my tool to understand what my characters were thinking and feeling. I’ve just been lucky that baseball is considered the most literary, and literate, of the sports, with a long and proud established canon of its own to talk about. I’m proud to be part of that canon, but I’m sure I’ve overdone it, with some fifteen or more baseball stories published in various of the magazines and anthologies. I’ve tried to ease back on all that, but I have to tell you that my protagonist in Alien Morning mentions playing high-school baseball and is playing professional basketball in Europe when injuries end his career and he turns to media work and ultimately to working for the S’hudonni. What can I say? I have two new baseball/fantasy/sf stories that will be out sometime in 2017 in the magazines, too, I think. The game calls to me.

As a fan of baseball, do you have any advice for how I can get my teenage sons interested in the game? They say it is too slow and boring.

Actually, I’d say baseball’s pace is purposeful. It’s meant to be watched on a beautiful summer day or night, where the pace is part of the appeal and you can talk with your friends while you keep an eye on the action. As soon as there’s one runner on base your attention level rises, since there are now a host of possible outcomes from -every- pitch. Two runners and there are many more possibilities, so you’re watching more closely. Then seeing a great catch in deep center, or a splendid double-play, or a brilliant strikeout of a great hitter: those are magic moments. Heck, even a single great at-bat where the hitter is fouling them off, waiting for the pitcher to make a mistake and bring one in a little high: those are the great elements of the game, at least as I watch it. There’s no clock that will end the game, so it might go on forever if it’s tied. For some of us, that’s part of the appeal.

What can your fans expect from you in the near future?

I think I’ll have two or three stories in the magazines in 2017 if I can carve out the time to polish them. And I’m hard at work on Alien Day, the sequel to Alien Morning. It should be out in early 2018 and its set on Earth and on S’hudon, the home world of the aliens. Lots of action under a red dwarf star, and some heroism back on Earth from a woman who starts out a Hollywood star and ends up a warrior. She’s great.

Where can reader’s follow your future endeavors?

My newly revamped website is up, at rickwilber.net, and there are links on that site to my very active Facebook page, my blog, my Twitter feed and more. Enjoy Alien Morning and keep an eye out for Alien Day!

Thanks, it’s been fun!

Rick Wilber

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rick-wilberAbout the Author:

RICK WILBER has been a prolific writer of short fiction, which has been published in several major science fiction magazines, including The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He has also edited an anthology on the future of journalism titled Future Media and is a professor of Mass Communications. Parts of Alien Morning have been published in Asimov’s Science Fiction. Wilber lives in southern Florida.

Follow Rick online at his blogwebsite, or facebook.

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GIVEAWAY

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With thanks to the great people over at Tor Books, this giveaway is for a chance to win Rick Wilber’s latest science fiction novel, Alien Morning. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada. Three lucky winner will receive a copy of the novel. To enter, check the Rafflecopter Giveaway.  The winner will be randomly selected, then be notified by email.

UPDATE:  This giveaway has ended.  Thanks for all the people who entered.  It was great to see how many people were interested in reading this novel.  The three lucky winners are DJ, John Smith, and Bookstooge.   Hope each of you enjoy this novel!

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4 Responses to INTERVIEW WITH RICK WILBER + GIVEAWAY OF ALIEN MORNING

  1. Bookstooge says:

    Did you set up the rafflecopter thingy? It is saying it hasn’t started yet, if you did.

    Like

  2. John Smith says:

    When I met an alien, if I were to meet an alien, I would naturally say “Hello!” It never hurts to be polite.

    Liked by 1 person

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