Alan Dean Foster, author of “Pardon Our Conquest”

Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?

There are all kinds of ways to “conquer.”  Sometimes simply persuading an opponent that your way is better can achieve the desired end.  I always thought killing an opponent was a poor way of convincing him of the rightness of your argument.

What’s was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I just got back from three weeks in the Mahgreb where, among other things, I was able to spend quite a bit of time at some spectacular Roman sites (Bella Regia, Dougga, Volubilis).  Prior to departing, I was thinking quite a bit about ancient Rome.  One of the most successful aspects of the Roman Empire was how, after their legions beat the crap out of your soldiers, they then offered the defeated the opportunity to become Roman citizens…the idea being that being a Roman citizen was better than being anything else.  The same (largely inadvertent) technique helps keep modern American strong.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

Only in that I wanted to render believable for a futuristic setting what is really a very old method of successful conquest.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

Having visited so many Roman sites throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, I feel as comfortable in “ancient” Rome as I do in many modern cities.  Since the Romans don’t feel especially distant to me, time-wise, neither do the folks in my story.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

None, really.  Just channeled a two-thousand year old method of successful conquest.

What is the appeal of this type of fiction–stories that take place in interstellar societies? Why do so many writers–or you yourself–write about it? Why do readers and film viewers love it so much?

Any story that takes place in the future necessarily implies that there will be a future.  These days, that qualifies as an optimistic tale all by itself.  As for interstellar societies, they offer the promise of “something more”.  Everyone likes to believe there’s another frontier, because we’ve exhausted the possibilities here on Earth.

What are some of your favorite examples of interstellar SF, and what makes them your favorites?

Doc Smith’s Lensman series is the template, of course.  Aliens and humans working together to defeat the baddies.  Eric Frank Russell’s tales in which humor seems to work as well among the stars as it does here on Earth.  Murray Leinster’s logic, straightforward storytelling.

Any new work of yours just out or forthcoming you’d like to mention, or anything else you’d like to add?

FLINX TRANSCENDENT, the culmination of 35 years of stories about the young redhead and his pet Pip, will be out in 2009.  Also THE HUMAN BLEND, the first book of a new SF trilogy for Del Rey.  And hopefully I’ll soon be able to announce a publisher for a new fantasy trilogy, OSHANURTH, the first volume of which is BLUE MAGIC.

To learn more about Alan, visit his website.