Q&A with Alan Dean Foster

Long-time Analog contributor Alan Dean Foster stopped by to discuss his story in our September/October issue, “The Treasure of the Lugar Morto” [on sale now], what he’s been writing (and reading) lately, and the fascinating science of slime. 

Analog Editor: What is your history with Analog?

ADF: John W. Campbell published my first story in Analog, June 1971. Gave me a bunch of advice re: my first novel, too.

AE: Do you particularly relate to any of the characters in this story?

ADF: I always relate to scientists and have inexpressible admiration for how the majority of the time their work consists of plugging away at repetitive, boring tasks in the hope of one day adding some tiny bit of information to the whole of human knowledge . . . often without any real recognition.

AE: Are there any themes that you find yourself returning to throughout your writing? If yes, what and why?

ADF: Ecology. The oneness, the interconnectedness of all life on Earth, has never ceased to fascinate me. It’s a central theme in “The Treasure of the Lugar Morto,” too.

AE: How do you deal with writers’ block?

ADF: I’ve never had writers’ block. I have better days and slower days, but I’ve never really been blocked. The problem is not enough time.

AE: What other projects are you currently working on?

ADF: An SF novel, Lost on Paradise. I write a monthly column on art & science for a local paper. And this past April I started composing orchestral music. Have completed several short pieces, a symphony, an orchestral suite, and am in the process of starting in on a second symphony.

AE: What is the weirdest research rabbit-hole that working on a story has led you down?

ADF: I recently completed an SF novel, Secretions, which is set on a world whose ecology is based entirely on slime. Before I began researching it, I had no idea how fascinating organic glop actually is. Every bit of research led to a new development in the story.

“The oneness, the interconnectedness of all life on Earth, has never ceased to fascinate me.”

AE: If you could choose one SFnal universe to live in, what universe would it be, and why?

ADF: My own Universe of the Commonwealth. I’d know my way around right off the bat, and a lot of what happens therein is based on logic and reason. Here, not so much.

AE: What are you reading right now?

ADF: This week’s Economist. Never miss an issue. Last book read was Pekka Hamalainen’s Lakota America. Contents surpassed the totality of my previous knowledge of eastern and central U.S. Native Americans. Reads in places like an SF novel.

AE: How did this story germinate?

ADF: I’ve been to the location in the story. Coupled with the daily news, I had a tale that came all too easily.

AE: How did the title for this piece come to you?

ADF: I enjoy foreign languages. And I like inducing the reader to do a little looking-up of words they might not immediately understand.

Alan Dean Foster’s sometimes humorous, occasionally poignant, but always entertaining short fiction has appeared in all the major SF magazines as well as in original anthologies and several “Best of the Year” compendiums. His published oeuvre includes more than 130 books. Foster’s work includes hard science fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western, historical, and contemporary fiction. He has written numerous nonfiction articles on film, science, and scuba diving, as well as having produced the novel versions of many films, including Star Wars, the first three Alien films, Alien Nation, The Chronicles of Riddick, Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation, and both Transformers films.

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