by Sylvester

D I S C U S S I O N  F O R U M  |  R E T U R N  T O  S T  O N L I N E



Editor's Note: Interviews may contain minor spoilers.


Sylvester: Greetings, all. In case you are one of the few who haven’t heard of me, I go by the name Sylvester in your native tongue. I am, of course, a visitor to these shores, nothing but a humble entrepreneur, offering my wares for sale to you fine people of Earth. There has, however, been some—how shall I put it—misunderstandings about my motives for coming to your lovely, blue-green planet.

Upon the advice of my publicist, I am undertaking a unique journalistic adventure, interviewing one Russell Lutz, a writer of some note, who has recently released a “novel” by the name of The Department of Off World Affairs. So, let’s get right to it, shall we?

S: You call this book of yours fiction, despite the fact that I am, in fact, the main character.

RL: Well, you’re one of the main characters, that’s true. There are also three major human characters. I’m telling the story of what happens when Earth is suddenly thrust into the complex society of the galaxy. The astronomer who makes the discovery, Vanessa Hargrove, is—

S: Lovely girl, lovely girl. Bit pale. She should get more sun, don’t you think?

RL: Well, I suppose with her complexion it’s hard to—

S: What I want to know, Mr. Lutz, is why you portray me in such a bad light.

RL: I don’t portray you in a bad light.

S: You practically tell the world that I’m a terrorist! How this wounds me, sir!

RL: I’m trying to build tension, Sylvester. There is a terrorist—or, really, a seditionist—who causes a great deal of trouble in the story, but the mystery is that we don’t know exactly who it is. You are one of the suspects, that’s true. But there’s also a character named—

S: I’ll have you know I’m considering taking legal action against you and Silverthink Press.

RL: It’s Silverthought.

S: It’ll be Sylvesterthought by the time my lawyers are done with you.

RL: Can we talk about the book, please?

S: I suppose you want to tell them about your “influences”, and what not.

RL: Well, yes. I suppose it’ll be obvious to many readers that I’m a fan of Carl Sagan’s Contact, as well as Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s books. I’ve also been intrigued by stories that try to answer the question of why the skies are so quiet. I think the solution I’ve come up with is fairly—

S: Brilliant, yes. Cocoon around your little solar system. Very clever. Don’t you think you play up the negative aspects of us off world visitors a little much? Are we really all so bad?

RL: I think that any change of such magnitude—the introduction of aliens into Earth culture so suddenly—will have positive and negative effects. There are amazing technologies that we get from the visitors, but there are also unintended consequences.

S: I feel it is incumbent upon me to explain that the Junior incident was not my fault. I told that Microsoft fellow to be careful with those embryos.

RL: I’m not placing blame. When Junior is set free and rampages through Seattle, there are obviously some terrible consequences. In that chapter, I’m saying something about the role of public policy in—

S: So you’re a socialist then?

RL: What? I’m not a socialist.

S: That’s why you didn’t title your book Off World Amalgamated or Visitors Incorporated. You’re writing about a government agency. You’re a socialist.

RL: I think government can’t help but be involved in a culture shift of this magnitude. And, in any case, another major plot line in DOWA involves an entrepreneurial company in India that builds the first translight ship in Earth’s history. One of the main characters, a woman named Keira Desai, is instrumental in that effort.

S: Oh, that one. I don’t trust her farther than I could throw her.

RL: You’re just mad at her for exposing the secret of what you were exporting from Earth.

S: And look what that brought you. Nothing but heartache, or I miss my guess.

RL: Okay, now come on. I’m getting a little tired of your attitude.

S: You have only yourself to blame, Mr. Author. This is how you wrote me.

RL: I may have created a monster.

S: You’re the monster, Mr. Lutz. Space stations bursting in flames. Race riots in New York. The breakdown of the entire oil industry. What terrible things have you not inflicted on your poor species in this “book” of yours?

RL: I also cured cancer!

S: I cured cancer, my good man.

RL: Six of one.

S: Well, our time is almost up.

RL: What time? This interview is all in text.

S: The book is The Department of Off World Affairs, subtitled Fabulous Snakelike Yarn: The Story of Sylvester.

RL: That is not the subtitle.

S: The author is Russell Lutz, who apparently won an award—

RL: Two awards, actually.

S: Ooo! Aren’t we the accomplished author, then? Two awards for his previous novel, Iota Cycle. Thank you for your time, Mr. Lutz. It’s been an unalloyed pleasure.

RL: Right. Whatever.



Copyright © 2008 Sylvester

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

Sylvester cured cancer. Really.

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