Brendan DuBois has been submitting to Analog since he was a teenager, but throughout the years he’s been busy placing stories in our sister publications Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. In his latest tale, “The New Martian Way” [in our March/April issue], his murder-mystery chops jump to a level that is out of this world . . .
Analog Editor: What is the story behind this piece?
BD: I’ve always been fascinated at how humanity will adapt and change as it begins to settle the Moon and the rest of the Solar System. Even though I thought we’d be on the Moon by now—where’s my Luna City, dammit?—I feel like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Chinese will now get us there sooner rather than later. But once there’s a settlement on the Moon and Mars, what next? In my story, a corporation has financed the first human settlement on Mars, and as with all corporations, they demand a return on their investment.
AE: Do you particularly relate to any of the characters in this story?
BD: Luke Holman is the first-person narrator of this tale, and he’s a former Air Force officer, part of the Office of Special Investigations. On Mars he’s a general go-fer, a maintenance worker, someone who can be counted on to lend a hand when some odd job comes along. In this story, the first unexplained death on Mars takes place, and he’s asked to investigate the death. As a writer of mysteries as well, I identify with his job to see if anything untoward happened in this death . . . perhaps even the first homicide on another world. And I related to his dedication in seeing what happened, and his wise-ass attitude in dealing with co-workers and supervisors.
AE: How did the title for this piece come to you?
BD: As with any attempt at colonization, the folks who are the colonials are going to change. With this group of settlers, there are those who are there to do research and exploration, and there’s a smaller subset that sees this colony as the first steps toward Martian independence, a “new Martian way.” Whether this spirit can exist against the harsh realities and demands of the Corporation that paid their way is a question noted throughout the story.
AE: What is your history with Analog?
BD: A bitter, decades-long attempt by me to get a story accepted . . . hah-hah-hah. I first started submitting to Analog when I was 12 or 13 years old, when Ben Bova was editor, and that’s when my first rejections came my way. Off and on over the years, I kept submitting to Analog and kept getting rejected, through the Bova editorship and followed by Dr. Stanley Schmidt. Finally, after Trevor Quachri took over the helm of Analog—no doubt recognizing my obvious talent—my first story, “The Master’s Voice,” was published in December 2015. I have to say that even with my previous publication of novels and short stories and numerous writing awards, selling my first short story to Analog was one of the highlights of my writing career.
AE: How do you deal with writer’s block?
BD: I don’t get writer’s block. I know, I know, weird, right? But there are various reasons why I think I don’t get writer’s block: growing up in Puritan-style New England, attending 12 years of Catholic school, and working several years as a newspaper journalist, where deadlines are sacrosanct. My first short story was published in 1986, and my first novel in 1994, and since then, I’ve never, ever missed a deadline. That’s a record I’m proud of.
AE: What other projects are you currently working on?
BD: I just finished the twelfth novel in my Lewis Cole mystery series, Terminal Surf, and I intend to submit it to my publisher in a couple of months. In March, I have two novels coming out, both co-authored with bestselling author James Patterson, The First Lady and The Cornwalls Are Gone. I’m currently working on a fourth novel with James Patterson and hope to have that finished by the end of the year. I always have a number of other projects coming along—with short stories in both the science fiction and mystery field—and I plan to write a new science fiction novel this summer.
AE: What is the weirdest research rabbit-hole that working on a story has led you down?
BD: I can’t think of a single one. Either I’m too disciplined when I do research, or I’m getting bored with seeing cat videos on YouTube.
AE: If you could choose one SFnal universe to live in, what universe would it be, and why?
BD: The Future History of Robert Heinlein. Hopelessly outdated now, but there’s still a sense of wonder and joy in his futuristic world. From the “rolling roads” to the first space station and the founding of Luna City, and colonizing Mars and Venus, complete with alien species. It seemed like a grand, glorious time, save for an apparent atomic war—mentioned in passing in “If This Goes On—” and, of course, the theocracy of Nehemiah Scudder.
AE: What are you reading right now?
BD: When I’m working on a novel, I’m usually reading nonfiction to assist in the research. So at the current moment, I’m reading Army Detective: Life and Times of Dick Miller, Retired Special Agent US Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) by Dick Miller. That might give you a taste of what my next co-authored novel will be about.
AE: Many of our Analog authors are interested in science. Do you have any scientific background, and does it impact your fiction?
BD: I have zero scientific background. I graduated from college with a B.A. in English. But I grew up as a child of the 1960s, when the space program and other scientific achievements were occurring. So I’ve always had a strong interest and love of science, including astronomy, space exploration, archaeology, and various other areas. I am that dangerous type of author, one who can’t be trusted with just a little knowledge.