On the Spot at BSC – Laura E. Reeve InterviewFebruary 20th, 2009 by Professor Crazy | Filed under Book, Interview, Science Fiction.
I and the staff of BSC are glad the very talented author of Peacekeeper, Laura E. Reeve, agreed to be interviewed about her suspenseful, page-turning, debut science fiction novel. It’s the first in a series that will feature her strong-willed but flawed character, Major Ariane Kedros. Ariane is a woman of many layers, a complex character who has a past she is trying to reconcile herself with, and which she has much guilt about her role, as she was the pilot of the spaceship that destroyed the Ura-Guinn time buoy which possibly resulted in the destruction of an entire solar system and caused the deaths of millions of people.
She didn’t know at the time she was carrying live warheads, and she was just obeying orders; but, she thinks of herself, even, as being a war criminal. Ariane Kedros is a somewhat unlikely heroine, but she is, of this book and the entire series, and it’s a credit to the author’s writing skills that she makes Ariane a very likable character, and one whom I’m looking forward to reading more about in the future.
Ariane (Ari) hides her past from her partners at Aether Exploration, where she has a job as the N-space pilot for the majority owner, Matthew Journey. Though older than she is, Matt seems to carry a torch for her, and holds hope out for romantic involvement between them. They comes [sic] across a time buoy which seems to not be of Minoan origins (the Minoans being aliens with some similarities with the Minoan culture that had eixisted on Earth, know known as Terra). Since the Minoans have a monoply on the technology to create time buoys, and since they are necessary to travel vast distances in space faster than could be accomplished by any other means, this is an important discovery. It’s one that draws the interest and attention of a great many individuals, some who want to see Journey and Kedros fail, and steal the time buoy for themselves.
Also, another main plot line involves Ari’s being used by the military to go undercover as a weapons inspector to look for TD (Temporal Distortion) weapons aboard the spaceship, Karthage Point. Ari is an Autonomist, and the Autonomists and the Terrans have been fighting a type of civil war for many years, but both sides are experiencing an uneasy peace, mostly due to the efforts of the Minoans acting as a go-between, brokering a peace. An assassin (or more than one) is on the loose, as well, killing everyone who was responsible for the destruction of Ura-Guinn, so Ari is on the watch to try to prevent anyone else (including herself) from becoming a victim of the assassin(s).
That is just scratching the surface of the twin plot lines of Peacekeeper, to serve as a background for this interview and to whet your interest to read the novel for yourselves. Our thanks and gratitude also go to Laura for her military service to the United States, and her participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Now, as they say, “Off with their heads!” — No, wait; that isn’t quite right; oh, yes, “On to the questions!”
Professor Crazy - Though you translate the speech of the Autonomists, it’s mentioned in a few places in Peacekeeper that they are speaking in the Greek language. Why did you choose that language? Do you speak it yourself?
Laura E. Reeve – The Greek language, or its descendant, is prominent in Ari’s world, due to an alternate history in which Alexander the Great lives to an old age. I figured if his goal of “hellenicizing” the civilized world had been successful, the rise of the Roman Empire might have been constrained and changed. Even in our history, there was a significant period when common Greek was widely used, when it was the best choice for record-keeping and the exchange of knowledge. Unfortunately, I don’t know Greek and my experience with German and Italian wasn’t helpful. I’ve had to rely upon Greek to Greeklish (the representation of Greek words with English letters), and Greek to English, translators and dictionaries. Because of that, I rarely tread into any “real” Greek and I try to research word origins, so I can lean toward English words that have Greek roots. In retrospect, perhaps I should have picked an easier path.
Professor Crazy – Being a professor of Ancient Cultures and Archaelogy, as well as numerous other subjects, I was fascinated by your creation of an alien race named after the Minoan culture on Earth. Have you had an interest in the Minoans for a long time?
Laura E. Reeve – Yes, I’ve always been intrigued by the ancient culture found on Crete, perhaps more so by its mystery. We have so little to go on, hampered by obscuring volcanoes, conquerers, and time. There are all sorts of quirky theories regarding ancient Knossos, even that it was the basis for Plato’s Atlantis. So, who’s to say that aliens might not pattern themselves after an ancient culture, given the thousands of years it might take for them to make their first trip to Earth?
Professor Crazy – Ariane is one of the most complex and conflicted heroines I’ve read about in quite a while. She is torn with guilt, an alcoholic (or borderline one), and can be considered to be both a villain and a heroine. Ari is also torn between her duty and responsibilities serving as Matt Journey’s N-space pilot and her military role, working for the AFCAW’s Directorate of Intelligence, Colonel Owen Edones. Does her conflicted nature reflect, in part, the conflicts that can often develop within anyone serving in the military?
Laua E. Reeve – Anyone who’s served in the U.S. military has experienced the duality of civilian and military life, and I think this always causes a little friction. However, the major conflict for Ariane is the non-combatant casualties resulting from a powerful weapon that she helped detonate under valid orders. In the real world, the possibilities of non-combatant casualties are never taken lightly nor hidden from the service member, at least from my experience. Most U.S. military members who wield weapons, or operate weapon systems, have had to consider the worst-case scenario. Then they have to box up their conflict, push that box deep into the back of their brain, and hope they never have to deal with it.
Professor Crazy – I’m guessing that the Minoans and the time buoy technology will continue to play an important role in your series and will be explored further in your next book. The three-way business entanglement over the time buoy artifact that Ari and Matt recover, with the Minoans and Terrans claiming a stake in it along with Aether Exploration, was a brilliant solution to some of the problems in the novel.
I was wondering if you had any plans to continue Captain Valentine’s character as the captain of Karthage Point, and as someone who wants to see Ari pay for her crimes. Also, could you tell us if Terran assassins will still attempt to kill Ari in the next book?
Laura E. Reeve - Book #2, titled VIGILANTE, moves so fast that no one has the time to do the “job” properly. Besides, the Terrans and Autonomists have to work together to get through the crisis alive (I can be pretty mean to my characters). In Book #3, however, the assassins are back…
Professor Crazy - In Peacekeeper, though Matt runs Aether exploration, he’s not keeping his head above water. He is in a large amount of debt, does not own his ship, and his expenses exceed his profits. Will he manage to get out of debt in the next book?
Laura E. Reeve – Not in Vigilante, but he’s going to get his chance in book #3. Unfortunately, he’s not going to like where the money comes from and he can’t trust his new investors.
Professor Crazy - What gave you the idea of “N-space,” and could you please describe for our readers what N-space is, and how it effects pilots like Ari in your novel?
Laura E. Reeve – Some SF writers (for instance, the mundane SF movement) have given up on faster-than-light travel/communications as ever being possible, but I haven’t. I had to have FTL communication and travel for my story and world to work. After much reading and discussion with my science consultant husband, I mixed together hyperspace (which is, vaguely, one of the better FTL ideas), string theory with its multiple time dimensions, Roger Penrose’s topics in Shadows of the Mind, and some terms from an ancient Greek philosopher named Anaxagoras (whose version of cosmology says the limitless Mind, or “Nous,” caused motion in the fragmented chaos and eventually gave reality to the cosmos — or something like that). From that stew, I created my version of hyperspace and named it N-space, short for Nous-space. The actual FTL “travel” is called the nous-transit and mankind’s machinery (Penrose Fold referential engines, etc.) can’t complete nous-transit alone without a human pilot. Unfortunately, that pilot needs to be drugged up so they don’t end up with permanent psychosis. Passengers have even higher potentials for psychotic events, so they have to be suitably drugged and unconscious. The nous-transit is so unpleasant that nobody balks at taking the drugs. Then I added the Minoan/alien buoys that let mankind NAVIGATE N-space (let’s not forget that small, but important, detail).
Professor Crazy – You have obviously drawn from your military experiences to make your characters and novel more realistic and plausible. I really appreciate the extra lengths you go to and details about insignias, uniforms, and the chain of command which you include. It makes it easier for readers to suspend their belief when it comes to things like time buoys and aliens, and to get into the story. Aboard the Karthage Point, Ari seems to want to drink with the regular enlisted personnel, but that would be against the chain of command protocol. Could you tell us more about this, please?
Laura E. Reeve: Ari hesitates to drink/party with young officers of a lower rank, which might mess up her position as someone who has to inspect and give orders from outside the unit. I was assigned to a unit under the AF Inspector General, and the inspection teams were warned against “fraternizing” with the units under inspection, for that very reason. The military frowns on fraternization in many situations, not just up and down the chain of command. Fraternization is complicated to define, but often easy to recognize (sort of like pornography?) Basically, it’s the personalization and subversion of any professional relationship, particularly between those that give orders and those that take orders. Let’s say that supervisor A and subordinate B are good drinking buddies and pal around with each other publicly. What if A must order people on a mission that’s dangerous or unpleasant? You might think the military worries that if A orders B to do the mission, B might question A’s authority, particularly if A was running around at a recent party with underwear over his/her head. That, however, isn’t the biggest cause for concern. If A and B publicly fraternize, then B’s comrades will suspect preferential treatment. No matter what, they’ll suspect that B will get good performance reports and won’t be chosen for dangerous, boring, or unpleasant duties. Fraternization leads to favoritism, real OR perceived, which can tear an organization, unit, or crew apart. That’s why unit/crew members aren’t supposed to get involved sexually or romantically (i.e., that’s why Ari and Brandon stop their relationship almost before it begins, and why Ari and Matt are trying to avoid that issue).
Professor Crazy – At the start of each of your chapters, you have a quote from some future book, often dealing with laws and regulations like the Pax Minoca treaty that Ari finds herself involved with as a weapons inspector. This reminded me of how Frank Herbert does something similar in Dune. Was this book in your mind at all when you wrote Peacekeeper? How much did you draw on your own involvement with treaties to make the quotes realistic?
Laura E. Reeve - Yes, I liked what Frank Herbert did in his Dune novels. Early in the 1990s, I began a novel that was the start of Ariane’s world. I was experimenting and I tried to tell a story while going through a treaty, paragraph by paragraph. Like most experimental fiction, it ended up on a shelf. Then, in 2004, I pulled out the manuscript, scrapped almost everything, and started over. One of the few things to continue was the quotes, several of which came straight out of the INF treaty after the names were changed. I try not to put crucial clues or plot points into the quotes, because their purpose is to provide details regarding the wider world.
Professor Crazy - I hypothesize that you name the solar system Ura-Guinn after the science fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin. Did you, or is the similarity of the two names just coincidental?
Laura E. Reeve – That was a detail that survived from the earlier manuscript. Originally, I did name that solar system after Ms. Le Guin. Later, I considered renaming it, but I just couldn’t come up with a name I liked — so it stayed.
Professor Crazy – I know that at your web site, www.ancestralstars.com, you mention some of the books you’re currently reading and authors you like. Could you please talk briefly about some of your influences and why you chose to write in the science fiction genre?
Laura E. Reeve – I’ve gone through a lot of reading fads, but I’ve always wanted to write fantasy and science fiction. I don’t know why. My summer reading list in elementary school would always start with this lineup: Tolkien’s LOTRs, Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, Lewis’s Narnia series and SF Trilogy, Leigh Bracket’s Martian stories, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and Orcsy’s Scarlet Pimpernel — then I’d branch out into whatever fiction I could get my hands on. Other SF/F authors that I remember reading early on were Asimov, Frank Herbert, Piers Anthony, and Andre Norton. I loved to read SF/F that has multiple complex plots and characters, as well as any action/adventure (pirates and swashbucklers were always good). I think those tastes are reflected in my writing.
Professor Crazy – Last question – the inevitable, “What are your plans for the future?” one – and, do you have a working title for the next Major Ariane Kedros novel yet, and a publication date for its release?
Laura E. Reeve: Book #2 of the Major Kedros Novels, Vigilante, should be out around October 2009 and it looks like that title will stick. It’s more action-oriented than Peacekeeper and I’ll be able to post the back copy soon on www.AncestralStars.com. Book #3 has the working title of Pathfinder and it will be out in 2010, but I don’t yet have a specific month from Roc. After book #3, I’m looking at a couple projects, perhaps more Kedros novels or a steampunk fantasy.
Professor Crazy – Thanks once again Laura. The staff at BSC and I wish you good luck and continued success with your writing career and the Major Ariane Kedros series!