GRR Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham have written the fantastic Hunter’s Run, developed from an original novella. Daniel Abraham, whose UK debut The Long Price (Book one: Shadow and Betrayal) is out next month kindly answered some questions on the novel and his involvement.
What made you join up with Gardner Dozois and GRR Martin for Hunter’s Run?
Honestly, the big thing was the chance to work with George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois.
I’ve been reading George’s work and the anthologies and magazines Gardner put together since I was shorter. The idea of spending time with those guys was kind of like having a graduate student working in physics being asked “Hey, Bohr and Einstein are working on this thing. You busy?”
What influenced the rewrite the novella into a novel?
In short, George. He always thought there was a novel in the project. Not that we weren’t all happy with the novella, but George felt like there was a lot of nifty stuff
we hadn’t had the room to deal with — the alien wilderness, Ramon’s relationship with
Manek, things like that. He basically talked us into it.
There’s a sense of Earth as a broken force, on contrast to the golden age of fearless exploration we see in sf. Does this come from a sense that we cannot control the vastness of space or its denizens?
More than anything, it comes from the conflict between golden age science fiction and the science that we actually uncovered. There was a time that the idea of a vast star-faring empire might have been speculation instead of fantasy. How were we to know there wasn’t any air on the moon or Mars? Or a maximum speed? I still think it’s pretty weird that there’s a maximum speed. I mean what if you go to the speed of light, and then you just tap the gas a little? You can’t? You already have … ah … infinite mass As we’ve learned more and more about the universe and how it works, the more the Buck Rodgers dream has faded.
In the novel, the central character (I hesitate at the word hero) is alienated from everything. What motivated this set up?
Gardner. He was the one who really invented Ramon. The impulse at the time was to have someone as protagonist — I’ll avoid the h-word too — who wasn’t white. I think he took the idea of a kind of 1940’s movie Mexican and updated it. Instead of a burro and serape, this guy has a flying van. And then the plot as Gardner envisioned it didn’t really involve Ramon having a lot of close personal relationships, so it fit better with what we were going to do if he was a loner. Just mechanically, the plot doesn’t work if you take Ramon out and put in, say, a white middle-aged psychiatrist with a lot of social support and a regular day job.
The novel reads comfortably as a variety of genres sf, western, fantasy. Was this a deliberate choice or did it come out of the collaboration?
I don’t think any of us ever put it in those terms when we were talking about it, but I certainly see what you mean. A deliberate choice? I don’t know about that. More, it came out of a series of deliberate choices. One of Gardner’s touchstones was The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. George was thinking more of Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. So the collaboration had roots in a lot of different genres from the start.
Out of your own novels, which is the one that you are proudest of, or would recommend to readers coming from Hunter’s Run?
Well, I’ve only got a couple of them out, so I’d probably point folks toward A Shadow in Summer. It’s the first of four stand-alone novels in a series called the Long Price Quartet. The second volume – A Betrayal in Winter – is also out, and I’ve turned in the last two, but they’re still in the production phase. I imagine they’ll come out in 2008 and 2009 respectively.