Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Interview with Victor Travison, sci-fi author of Savage Worlds
Your blog and writing focuses on sci-fi. What has inspired you more in writing for this genre is it book authors, TV or movies? What sci-fi authors still inspire you today?
I have a great imagination, and watching how others use their imagination interests me. My primary interest in sci-fi comes from TV series, but I’ve also watched movies and read books. Isaac Asimov was one of the earliest authors I followed, as well as Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and others. Gene Roddenberry’s vision for Star Trek captured my interest from the first episode I saw. As for writing styles, I don’t try to emulate anyone but myself.
In regards to writing sci-fi you say you do your best to ensure it contains no contradictions with known science. How much research does this entail when you are creating space vehicles, new worlds or new creatures?
When I say “no contradictions with known science,” I’m talking about evolution, which is not a true science. In other words, the process cannot be seen, observed, or studied. I’m also thinking of the first Star Wars movie, which had X-wings and TIE fighters doing loop-the-loops in space, which is scientifically impossible without air.
I want to make my stories believable, so most of my research focuses on “Is it possible in the real world?” However, this doesn’t mean I can’t go beyond known science, which is what sci-fi is about. Faster than light travel, translators which can instantly teach an alien language, and paralyzing electrical weapons are among the things I invent to take my stories beyond.
In your book, Savage Worlds you say you let God have a voice, so He could be an interactive Player instead of sitting on the sidelines. Can you give me an example of what you mean by that?
I see so many sci-fi stories with a scene that begins “Do you believe in God?” and ends with a generic answer which does nothing for the plot. On Star Trek, God is regarded as a “concept” or a “myth,” which I know is not true. One of my purposes in this genre is to use God in a more active role, and not in a generic way that allows all sorts of interpretations, as in The Force of Star Wars. And of course, I have to be in tune with His guidance and His Word when I write these scenes.
The one thing all my aliens have in common is they were created by God. I believe the myth of evolution has entered our concept of aliens, to the point we think they have to look different from us to be “realistic.” But if someone from another country can be an alien, so can someone from another planet, with general build, facial features, color, culture, and language being the only differences. I don’t like using the term “species” for humanoid creatures, because that sounds like an animal classification. Instead I talk about “races.”
As a Christian you believe that God created man in His own image. That carries over in your sci-fi writing as well where you believe that “aliens” would also be created in God’s image though not the same physical design as homo sapiens. However, why couldn't space aliens be non-human or more specifically a planet that exists of creatures that do not have the final creation in God's image such as our planet existing without man?
I would ask, “If the final creation does not have God’s image, then who created them?” On the planet Kyan in Savage Worlds, the oppressed Bosti race formed a colony on a fully animalistic world, including boar-like creatures called namzali, so I think it is possible to have a fully nonhuman population.
But if you’re asking “Why couldn’t God’s pinnacle of creation be in some other image besides God’s?”, I know there’s a theory that God’s image is not necessarily in hominid form, but in essence only. However, from what I’ve read and seen in science fiction, even the essence tends to be less godlike—aliens confused about good vs. evil, for instance—so I’m not sure the theory holds up. Still, everyone must make up their own mind about this, since no one really knows whether outer-space aliens exist, much less what they look like.
In Savage Worlds your characters travel in a “houseship.” Could you tell my readers how that concept evolved? Do you envision this book to have a sequel?
I envision the houseship in the same sense as a houseboat, where people can live while traveling down a river or on another body of water. I wanted to avoid overdone terms like “starship,” though it was unique when Star Trek started.
The houseship also carries the idea of a family exploring space together, not a military force, with some homebound words mixed with the standard nautical ones. Since family is very important to God, this should appeal to the sense of family unity most of us have. And yes, there is a sequel to Savage Worlds now in the final stages of edit, under the title Pirates from Gnorlon.
I’m involved with a group of Christian handicapped people called TRYAD, which stands for To Reconcile You Able-bodied and Disabled. My own disability is congestive heart failure, which disallows me from working a standard job anymore. I have seen first-hand how often people who have a physical infirmity can have skills in other areas. I had wanted to write a superhero story of sorts for some time, and I thought, “Why not invent a group of handicapped people who get power from God to rescue?” Therefore, the Justice Coalition was born.
I like the book notes for this trilogy that says, “They fight not only for truth, justice, and the American way, but to rescue the lives and souls of all mankind in need.” This of course is reminiscent of the opening lines for the early Superman series. Why did you choose that concept?
Superman was an early childhood hero of mine. Though now a bit clichéd, the line has always appealed to me because “truth, justice, and the American way” is also God’s dream for us. With the Justice Coalition, I wanted to extend their mission beyond Superman’s, so I added “to rescue the lives and souls of all mankind in need.”
What do you know now about getting published that you wished you had known earlier?
I self-publish with CreateSpace for printed books, and Smashwords for e-book formats. The CreateSpace versions are also available on Amazon. I’m something of a perfectionist, so I’ve learned to take more time going over my manuscript, several times, before I upload it. Being in a hurry is never an advantage, because I always manage to miss something. When I tried a more traditional route, I learned it’s very hard getting a potential publisher to agree with all of the new concepts that are important to my faith.
It’s a lot more work to format my own book than I thought it would be. When I talk to people about my books, I give a synopsis like “It’s about a family of crew members who explore space together,” and if they’re interested, I give them an author card that gives my pen name and the first three books I published, as well as my website. Recently a friend who read The Wild Green Yonder made a suggestion about the rank of one character who is a nurse, so in the interests of accuracy I republished it with the change.
What is the best piece of advice you have received about writing that you would like to pass on to others?
Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. We all like to believe our ideas come from God, but we have to remember we’re not writing Scripture. We have to go back and edit, change paragraphs, add and delete to make it a better story.
I just rewrote an entire chapter and a half of Pirates from Gnorlon, because the scene did not ring true or logical with the rest of the story.
That's it for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Victor's sci-fi thought click on his website which is http://victortravison.webs.com. It includes his blog, Lightwalker’s View, where he compares popular science fiction and fantasy ideas with the Bible. And in the left sidebar you’ll find his fictional “Sci-fi Philosophy” and several Story Samplers.
If you would like to buy his books click here for a direct link to Amazon. If you're interested in an e-format click here.