L. E. Modesitt, Jr., author of “Life-Suspension”

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

In essence, “Life-Suspension” is the fusion of two Japanese legends with the samurai tradition and set in a future where interstellar travel is possible, but where warfare is over who controls the lines of interstellar communication. It’s a story that shows how thin the lines between all human passions are, especially in war.

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

I have to say that the idea was originally initiated by John Joseph Adams’s suggestion that he might be developing an anthology about science fiction inspired by Japanese legends. I decided to see if I could write something along those lines… and did. While the first project never developed, because the story was set in a future galactic federation, John asked if he could include it in Federations.

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

This was a challenging story, especially in developing the context in which the legends and traditions mesh with futuristic technology and culture.

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

The old adage is that a writer writes best when he or she writes what he knows. I was a military pilot, and I’ve tried to capture the feel of those situations, and the contrast between the times of action and the quiet civility of officers in between action.

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

The greatest research went into researching the Japanese legends and their sources.

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?

It seems to me that the appeal of “interstellar” fiction is the scope, sweep, and grandeur of the societies being portrayed, and the implication that so much more is possible for human beings.

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

Certainly, one of my favorites is an older book, Gordon Dickson’s Soldier, Ask Not, because it’s all about the clash of human values and how often understanding comes too late.

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

I have a new SF novel — Haze — that [comes] out in June of 2009, which is an interstellar/future earth/splinter culture, multi-leveled thriller, based on a future Sino-dominated earth government which encounters another human culture it is structurally and political incapable of understanding. I would add that it is not an “action-packed” thriller, although there is quite a bit of action, but a novel that I believe is far more horrifying on an underlying level because of its implications.

To learn more about Lee, visit his website.