Please welcome Sage Walker to The Qwillery. The Man in the Tree was published on September 12th by Tor Books.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Sage: The first most challenging thing about writing is doing it. The second most challenging thing about writing, once I’ve fought myself into doing it, is stopping for things like, oh, food and rest.
TQ: What has influenced / influences your writing?
Sage: The biggest influence always has been and always will be the experience of reading wonderful books.
TQ: Describe The Man in the Tree in 140 characters or less.
Sage: Life inside the hollow asteroid Kybele can be heaven or hell. How that works out is up to you and me and our neighbors. Ready for that? Here we go.
TQ: Tell us something about The Man in the Tree that is not found in the book description.
Sage: The food is really good and Mena’s wines are coming along nicely. In fifty years or so, they will be magnificent.
TQ: The Man in the Tree is described as hard science fiction. What appeals to you about writing hard SF?
Sage: Once upon a time I did a “scientific experiment” and wrote an opening chapter in a fantasy world. I wrote the same characters and plot in an sf setting. Hands down, my critique group voted for the sf version. I accept their wisdom, for now.
TQ: What makes a story hard SF?
Sage: Your question sent me out on a research loop. I like Ben Bova’s definition – “stories in which some aspect of future science or technology is so central to the tale that if you took out the science or technology, the story would collapse. ” MiT could have been set on one of the mythical “lost continents” that were popular after the West’s discovery of the Americas, so it doesn’t fit Bova’s definition. But it tastes like hard SF. It’s all in the flavor.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for The Man in the Tree?
Sage: Generation ship stories tend to give me a “But, wait…” reaction, and I’ve read many, many variations of how they might work and how they might fail. Reading really fun stuff is sort of research, isn’t it? I find the ftl dodge a bit dodgy, and if you’re going to build a star-crosser that might have an infinitesimal change of getting somewhere, you have to deal with the possible. Thereby hangs a lot of study. Beyond the basics of distance, speed, and materials, I looked at many odd things. A partial list of them can be found here: https://www.sagewalker.net/links.
TQ: In The Man in the Tree who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Sage: Archer had his lines and his quirks ready before I called him on stage. He’s an amalgam of some wonderful role models and mentors I’ve had the good fortune to know.
Helt was the hardest. I’m not a guy, and I don’t have a guy’s reactions to certain things, like what Helt thinks about the morning after sex. I depended on the males in my crit group to vet some of those reactions. Let’s just say I learned a lot, and if you think I’m smiling while I’m writing this, you’re right.
TQ: Do Whiteout, your debut novel, and The Man in the Tree share anything thematically?
Sage: Whiteout and The Man in the Tree have some family continuity in that Elena, in MiT, is the grandchild of Jared in Whiteout. Both novels probably show my fascination with the ways humans modify tech and tech modifies humans.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Man in the Tree.
Sage: “I don’t waste that head of hers on committee meetings.” Mena Kanakaredes, displaying how not to waste a human resource.
TQ: What's next?
Sage: There are seven generations of possibilities on Kybele. When the drones come back from Nostos with some analyses of destination biology, the definition of “human” may undergo some changes. Just sayin’.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Sage: You’re welcome!
The Man in the Tree
Tor Books, September 12, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
Humanity’s last hope of survival lies in space…but will a random death doom the venture?
Our planet is dying and the world’s remaining nations have pooled their resources to build a seed ship that will carry colonists on a multi-generational journey to a distant planet.
Everything is set for a bright adventure…and then someone is found hanging dead just weeks before the launch. Fear and paranoia spread as the death begins to look more and more like a murder. The authorities want the case settled quickly and quietly so as not to cause panic…and to prevent a murderer from sabotaging the entire mission.
With The Man in the Tree, Locus Award-winning author Sage Walker has given us a thrilling hard science fiction mystery that explores the intersection of law, justice, and human nature.
“Rapid-fire storytelling from start to finish!”—Greg Bear
Tor Science Fiction, October 3, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
Sage Walker's suspenseful, Locus Award-winning first novel, Whiteout, takes us to a twenty-first century Earth where government means multinational corporation.
And daily living means a struggle to survive the effects of overpopulation, poverty, pollution, and hunger.
One last hope remains: Antarctica, the only source of pristine water and food left on the planet. Antarctica is protected from human exploitation by international treaty—and that treaty’s due for renegotiation.
The people who have the talents to influence the outcome of these negotiations run Edges, a company of media manipulators. They’ve been hired by one of the corporations for whom the current situation suits them just fine, and they’d like to keep it that way. This team knows that they have the skills to make whatever they want happen. But they also know that if they succeed, they might doom the planet.
SAGE WALKER is the author of Whiteout, which garnered critical acclaim and won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. She was born in Oklahoma and grew up steeped in simile and sultry south wind from the Gulf. She entered college as a music major and exited with a B.S. in Zoology and eventually a M.D. A long time Taos resident, her company established the first full-time Emergency Physician coverage in hospitals in Taos, Los Alamos, and Santa Fe. She stopped practicing in 1987 and describes herself as a burned-out ER doc who enjoys wilderness, solitude, good company...and telling stories.