Early last year we got news of an incredible collaboration, authors Gareth L. Powell (Embers Of War series, Ack-Ack Macaque trilogy) and Peter F. Hamilton (Night’s Dawn Trilogy, Commonwealth saga etc) had written a novella together. Well, that’s the British space opera equivalent of Queen and Bowie recording Under Pressure as far as I’m concerned.
Light Chaser will be published by Tor Books (Man, this just get’s better!) in August of this year. In the meantime, I decided to ask Gareth a few questions about the project…
People always want to know how a collaboration comes about whatever the artists’ medium. What made you and Peter decide to work together? Mutual admiration? An idea you both workshopped? What?
Peter and I did a couple of joint signing events at Foyles in Bristol. Chatting afterwards, I offhandedly suggested we might collaborate on something in the future—and was surprised when Peter leapt at the idea.
What about the process itself? Did you have a detailed plan and individually wrote chapters to its instructions? Or would one of you write a scene and the other the next? Basically was it planning or pantsing?
We threw ideas back and forth until we had the bare bones of something, after which we sat down in Peter’s study and blocked out the plot. Then it was just a case of deciding which of us would write which section.
The main character of Light Chaser, Amahle, travels the galaxy alone (save for her AI) offering trinkets in exchange for life stories. Are stories and, by extension, those who tell and record them, a central theme of the novella? Is there even an element of self-examination going on here?
I think stories are a theme, but also memories, and how they shape our view of the world. The main theme, though, is to do with the effects of enforced stability on human society.
Looking at Light Chaser and comparing it to the work you’ve done alone, especially space opera such as The Embers Of War series, how does it contrast? I mean, what do you think Peter injects into a Gareth story that wouldn’t normally be there? And, indeed, vice versa?
I was pleasantly surprised that our writing styles seemed to mesh so well, and Peter certainly injected an epic quality. His opening description of a starship ramming a sun left my jaw hanging open.
No doubt it did! Both yours and Peter’s work often feature human experience and relationships up against the cold hostility of deep space and deep time, so it doesn’t surprise me when your editor Lee Harris says Light Chaser features ‘a love powerful enough to transcend death’ that inspires someone ‘to pull down an empire’. Is it this extreme contrast, this cosmic-versus-the-intimate quality of space opera that draws you to the genre?
Absolutely. For me, the characters are every bit as important as the setting or the science. I’ve always tried to make them as relatable and authentic as possible, because that relationship between the personal and the infinite is one we all have to come to terms with at some point in our lives.
And finally, if you could collaborate with any SF/fantasy author, alive or dead (And not Peter! That’s a given!) who would you choose?
That’s a damn good question. I think it would be fascinating to work with Samuel Delany, although I am a little in awe of his intellect. But I would have loved the chance to share some fictional space with Iain Banks. His Culture novels are among my favourite books of the genre, and I think we share a certain playfulness in the way we explore serious themes and utilise the contents of the genre’s tookbox.
Light Chaser is available for pre-order HERE.