HEIDI'S PICK SIX
Works by John C. Wright
1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Unfortunately, my favorite character is not really mine. I was authorized by the
estate of AE van Vogt to do a sequel to his seminal World of Null-A and Players of Null-A. The hero is an amnesiac superman with a double brain named Gilbert Gosseyn, who can bypass the illusionary restrictions of timespace, reincarnate from the dead (being an amnesiac, this comes as quite a surprise when this happens the first time) and he may well be the next step of human evolution.
But his true power is his superior moral and mental outlook, a flexible system of multivalued logic called Non-Aristotelian philosophy or Null-A. This enables him to become aware of the unspoken assumptions and biases inherent in the way we perceive the universe through the filter of language: and since nearly everything in his environment is not what it seems, and nearly every one is not who he seems (including Gilbert Gosseyn himself!) the mental discipline is not only useful, but desperately necessary.
The character appeals to me because he prevails, not because of physical greater strength as might a Robert E Howard hero, nor even greater know-how as might a Robert Heinlein hero; no, Gilbert Gosseyn prevails because of his greater integrity of mind and body, passions, emotions, and reason, his greater sobriety and maturity, and in short, because of his sanity.
Most youths as they mature have days when they feel like the amnesiac superman. When a growing boy discovers some talent or knack he did not know he possessed, of when he discovers he can beat his brothers at a sport or beat his Dad at chess, there is something of that sense of wild discovery combined with familiarity that a greater being who has forgotten his own powers must feel.
This theme of forgetfulness of one's own true glory is one that runs through all my work. As to who or what Gilbert Gosseyn truly is, I am pleased to announce that I had the last word, and so you would have to buy a copy of Null-A Continuum to find out.
2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
I have been a lawyer, a newspaper editor, a newspaperman, political cartoonist, non-political cartoonist, tax preparer, store clerk, picture framer, paralegal, hand in a Delly, and even, since I got paid for it, a professional philosopher.
I have done my share of amateur game designing. My current day job is tech writer. I have had more odd jobs than even Edgar Rice Burroughs, and succeeded at them only as well as he.
5. Who are you reading right now?
Dante. This is on account of my highbrow tastes. I am not a philistine. See Question #15.
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I do not write by inspiration. I regard the task as work, as a carpenter wrights
a chair, or a shoemaker cobbles a shoe. One merely sits down and faces the blank sheet of paper with the same fortitude a knight faces a gathered and clamoring horde of Norsemen or Paynims. Anyone can write when so inspired; a professional writes when he is not inspired. See question #12.
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I write entirely by inspiration. The scenes merely flow out of me effortlessly,
in a fashion requiring neither forethought nor agony. Then I go back and rewrite the scene, wishing to heaven that I could outline. Anyone can write without an outline as I do; a professional outlines his work and sticks to it; a genius outlines his work and abandons the outline when need be. See question #8.
13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
From whom do I steal my ideas, do you mean? Only amateurs are influenced; professionals steal ideas; geniuses steal ideas from the greats.
A.E. van Vogt is the biggest victim of repeated thefts from my kelptomaniacal pen, as one might guess from the fact that I wrote a book of his Null-A Continuum. I have also set stories in the Dying Earth of Jack Vance (Songs of the Dying Earth - Gardner Dozois & Geo. R.R. Martin, eds.) and in the Long Dead Earth of William Hope Hodgson (Night Lands - Andy W. Robertson, ed).
My first trilogy, The Golden Age was a shameless rip off of ideas and themes from Olaf Stapledon and Ayn Rand, not to mention the myth of Phaethon; my second Last Guardian of Everness, was a shameless rip off from Arthurian legend, Russian folklore, Norse myth, Victorian fairytales, American pulp novels, the Book of the Apocalypse, not to mention HP Lovecraft's Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath and Crowley's Little, Big; my third trilogy, Orphans of Chaos was a shameless rip off of Hesiod and Roger Zelazny, with ideas nicked from Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay and the Book of the Goetia by the Great Beast.
My novella 'Twilight of the Gods' which appears in the anthology Federations (John Joseph Adams, ed) is a rip off of Heinlein's 'Universe' and Wager's Ring Cycle. (This story is also reprinted in The Year's Best Science Fiction—Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed).
My short story 'Guest Law' appears in The Space Opera Renaissance (Kathryn Cramer & David G. Hartwell, eds.) and is a shameless rip off of Greek myths about Zeus crossed with any number of submarine stories.
My novella 'Judgment Eve' appears in Engineering Infinity (Jonathan Strahan, ed) is a rip off of Byron's play HEAVEN AND EARTH which is in turn a rip off of the Deluge story appearing in the Book of Genesis. As I said, geniuses steal from the greats, and George Gordon, Lord Byron was a genius.
Aside from this, I wish I were influenced by Gene Wolfe, E.E. 'Doc' Smith, Keith
Laumer, Cordwainer Smith, but I cannot impersonate their ideas or approaches
15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Of course. This is on account of my lowbrow tastes. So I am a philistine after
all. My viewing pleasure includes Naruto, One Piece, Kim Possible, not to mention reruns of Space Ghost and Fantastic Four (and I mean the 1968 version, not the later jokes and rip-offs.) - See question #5.
John C. Wright is a retired attorney, newspaperman and newspaper editor, who was
only once on the lam and forced to hide from the police who did not admire his
In 1987, he graduated from the College and William and Mary's Law School (going from the third oldest to the second oldest school in continuous use in the United States), and was admitted to the practice of law in three jurisdictions (New York, May 1989; Maryland December 1990; DC January 1994). His law practice was unsuccessful enough to drive him into bankruptcy soon thereafter. His stint as a newspaperman for the St. Mary's Today was more rewarding spiritually, but, alas, also a failure financially. He presently works (successfully) as a writer in Virginia, where he lives in fairy-tale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter (Annapolis, class of 1985), and their four children: Evelyn, Orville, Wilbur, and Just Wright.