Alternate History Lessons with Trey Garrison, Author of Black Sun Reich

Trey Garrison, author of The Spear of Destiny is stopping by the Harper Voyager blog to give us all a lesson in alternate history, steampunk versus dieselpunk, and more!  Black Sun Reich: Part 1 of  The Spear of Destiny goes on sale wherever e-books are sold today (12/18/12). Look out for parts 2 and 3 in January!

Part 1 of The Spear of DestinyI want to start by asking your indulgence that I reference movies and TV as much as books. I think it’s likely people have more of a shared cultural experience from movies than books, even those of us who are voracious readers.

I first conceived The Spear of Destiny after watching one of the Bourne Identity movies. I loved the realistic, gritty and intelligent take on the spy genre, but when I walked out of the theater I felt like I’d been beaten. What I felt like adventure stories have been lacking is a sense of unapologetic wonder and fun. I recalled how when I was a kid I walked out of Raiders of the Lost Ark bursting with energy and ready to take on the world.

I can appreciate the gritty anti-hero so popular in adventure books and movies, but there’s also a place for the old-fashioned hero in literature. Not every hero has to be motivated by some grim backstory or horrible incident. Heroes can be larger than life and still believable if they’re written right. Joss Whedon’s Avengers (and his series Firefly) showed that you can have stories that are intelligent, nuanced and fantastic, and still retain a sense of fun. Some of my favorite books and authors have done this in works that, quite frankly, inspired this tale and the way I told it. Chief among them are Mike Resnick, John Ringo, Harry Harrison, Robert Heinlein, and S.M. Stirling. Other authors showed me that you could have a nuanced discussion of political philosophy within the boundary of a great adventure tale, without it becoming a preachy message work. I’m thinking of Poul Anderson’s whole Technic series, especially the collections “Trader to the Stars” and “The Van Rijn Method,” as well as James P. Hogan’s “Voyage from Yesteryear” and F. Paul Wilson’s “Enemy of the State.”

The primary hero in The Spear of Destiny, Sean “Fox” Rucker, is larger than life, but he’s still human and while he doesn’t always live up to his ideals, he certainly tries to. The other primary hero, Dr. Kurt von Deitel, is inspired to rise above his limits by the example Rucker sets, even if he and Rucker don’t get along at all. People think writers like to make their hero an idealized version of themselves. That may be true in that Rucker is the kind of man I’d like to be, but I see as much of myself in Deitel – his insecurities, his pessimism, and his foibles. If anything Deitel is the primary hero in that he undergoes the greatest change and most growth in the book.

As far as alternate history goes, it’s true that real life is stranger than fiction. Leaving aside the supernatural elements of the story, some of things that seem the most fantastic in my book are actually based on historical fact. I leave that to you to figure what is fact and what is fiction. And I’ve left more Easter eggs and love notes to my favorite authors, books and movies than I can remember at this point. It’s a book anyone looking for a good adventure tale and especially for genre fans.

My goal with The Spear of Destiny is just to tell a fun adventure yarn. I want it to bring a sense of wonder, of what if, and – yes – plain old fun. It combines zombies, cowboys, Nazis, robots, swashbuckling heroes, and elements of steampunk and deiselpunk, but it does so with a certain modern self-awareness of what it is. I am really hopeful people will see the wry sense of humor I’ve tried to imbue it with. When you get done with parts one, two and three, aside from wanting to read the sequel, I want you to feel energized and excited. I want you to feel like that kid again, ready to go swashbuckling and taking on evil.

 

Black Sun Reich: Part 1 of the Spear of Destiny on-sale 12/18/12 wherever e-books are sold

Death’s Head Legion: Part 2 of the Spear of Destiny on-sale 1/2/13 wherever e-books are sold

Shadows Will Fall: Part 3 of the Spear of Destiny on-sale 1/22/13 wherever e-books are sold

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