Interview With Author Edward M. Lerner

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

My formal background is in physics and computer engineering. After thirty years at some of the country’s premier high-tech companies (and some small companies few people have ever heard of), at every level from individual technical contributor to senior VP, I was ready to do something new.

By that point, I’d been writing fiction as a hobby with a degree of success. Soon after selling my second novel—making it far less likely the first had been a fluke—I decided to try full-time writing as a second career. That was in 2004, and I haven’t looked back.

As for my books, well, that’s a broad topic. 2021 saw the publication of my 22nd book. I mainly write science fiction, at every length from flash fiction to multi-novel series. I also write techno-thrillers and popular science.

Edward M. Lerner at Noreascon 4 (Worldcon 2004) Photo by Michael Benveniste

# Can you tell us something about your latest book?

That would be Déjà Doomed, published in May 2021. The novel deals with a popular SFnal topic, First Contact, but with a twist. The near-future alien encounter occurs on the Moon and is of the archeological persuasion.

In the hard vacuum of the Moon—especially well underground, sheltered from solar radiation, and where temperatures hold at a steady minus 20 or so degrees Celsius—things can persist for a long time. Things best left undisturbed. Stir in superpower rivalry over who will control the advanced alien technology plus a couple of mysterious deaths, and matters quickly get … interesting.

# Did you always want to be a writer? How did you get into writing?

Funny story. I was complaining to my wife about something I was reading, and she responded along the lines of, “I suppose you can do better.” Really, I had no choice.

It turned out I have an aptitude for storytelling. I should thank Ruth more often for her challenge.

# Why do you write science fiction?

I was a kid when Sputnik launched and grew up with the Space Race. I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t into science, tech, and science fiction.

Most SF of those days was positive, forward-looking. Sure, things could always go wrong—possible problems were and remain the novelist’s stock-in-trade—but stories generally had at least the possibility of non-disastrous outcomes. That’s the kind I write—no hopeless dystopias for me.

Ed at the Johnson Space Center circa 1996, “flying” NASA’s space-shuttle simulator. (Call it a perk of his seven years as a NASA contractor.) The shuttle seems to have the aerodynamic properties of a brick!

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

Titles? Alas, no. I’ve been known to spend the entire time I’m writing a story or novel thinking and re-thinking (and re-re-thinking …) about possible titles. Capturing the sense of a story in a very few words that will also hook prospective readers? It’s an art. Maybe that’s why some titles get reused.

As for cover art, though, I do have a tip: don’t let the imagery be too busy or subtle. Outstanding art, both striking and faithful to its book, can become nothing but a featureless blur once reduced to thumbnail size. With so much book shopping done online these days, it’s vital that cover thumbnails be eye-catching.

In that vein, I think artist Christina P. Myrvold did an outstanding job with the cover (above) for Déjà Doomed.

# Do you write solo?

Both when I began and in recent years, yes. Between, I collaborated with SF Grandmaster Larry Niven. Our Fleet of Worlds was so well-received that what started as a standalone novel eventually grew into a five-novel arc. All five are far-future, epic, space opera—and a lot of fun.

# Do you stick to one or a few themes in your writing?

For sure more than one theme, but certain topics seem to recur. Aliens, in all manner of contexts: SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), First Contact, interspecies conflict, and more. Computing technology: AI, robotics, hacking, and more. Histories: past, future, and alternate. Time travel. Expanding from our earthly cradle out into the Solar System and onward to the stars.

Techie-by-training that I am, I’ve also written a fair amount about the science behind many stories. As in, most notably, Trope-ing the Light Fantastic: The Science Behind the Fiction.

# What are your plans for future books?

I recently signed a contract for a book on the early colonization of Mars. The publisher and I have high hopes this upcoming novel will grow into a future-history series.

Thanks for inviting me onto NF Reads.


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