Science Fiction Trading Card Spotlight - David Brin

Our next Science Fiction Trading Card Spotlight features David Brin, who is displayed on card number 42, from the Science Fiction Collection.   David is a bestselling author as well as an inventor and scientist.  He was won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards. One of his books, “The Postman” became a film starring and directed by Kevin Costner.  Other Brin books dive into such topics as World War II, Human Cloning, and altered dolphins flying spaceships.  David appears often on shows like Life After People and Through the Wormhole.  He offers his knowledge and guidance as well in workshops and advice columns.  You can get more information about David and his work on his website. http://www.davidbrin.com
 
What authors do you admire today?

Nonfiction authors like Stephen Pinker and Rebecca Solnit show us that humanity may be a bit better and more hopeful than the cynics would have us believe.  Novelists like Vernor Vinge, Nancy Kress; suggest that the future may be simultaneously weird, yet offering windows to human understanding.

How early in your life did you know you would be a writer?

Let me admit and avow that writing was not my own first choice of a career. True, I came from a family of writers. It was in my blood. But I wanted something else -- to be a scientist. And by the fates, I became one.  I also had this hobby though -- writing stories -- and it provided a lot of satisfaction. I always figured that I'd scribble a few stories a year... maybe a novel now and then... while striving to become the best researcher and teacher I could be.  Don't mistake this for modesty! It's just that I perceive science -- the disciplined pursuit of truth -- to be a higher calling than spinning imaginative tales, no matter how vivid, innovative, or even deeply moving those tales may turn out to be.  I know this seems an unconventional view -- certainly my fellow scientists tell me so, as they often express envy; an envy that I find bemusing. As for the artists and writers I know, they seem almost universally convinced that they stand at the pinnacle of human undertakings. Doesn't society put out endless propaganda proclaiming that entertainers are beings close to gods? 

How has writing today changed from when you were younger? What do you like or dislike about the changes?

There is good news and bad news in this modern era.  The good: there are so many new ways to get heard or read or published that any persistent person can get out there.  Talent and good ideas will see the light of day!  The bad news… it is so easy to get "published," bypassing traditional channels, that millions can convince themselves "I am a published author!" without passing through the old grinding mill, in which my generation honed their skills by dint of relentless pain.  Alas, fiction writing is a complex art that involves a lot of tradecraft... as it would if you took up landscape painting or silver smithing. It is not insufficient simply having ideas and being skilled at nonfiction-prose, nor does a lifetime of reading stories prepare you to write them.

Story telling is incantatory magic and there are aspects to the incantation process that are mostly invisible to the incantation recipient (reader).  Skills at rapid-opening, point-of-view, showing-not-telling, action, evading passive-voice and so on are achieved by studied workshopping -- and as in most arts, the whole thing is predicated upon ineffable things like talent.  e.g. an ear for dialogue that only a few people have. Indeed, point-of-view is so hard that half of would be writers never "get" it, no matter how many years they put in.

Simple answer. Today it is easier to express yourself and be heard a little.  But that ease may make it hard to truly succeed at the top of your craft.

If you did not become a writer, what would you be doing?

I would have continued teaching and working in science.

What are your favorite type of books and why?

Books that question common assumptions.  They are rare.  Most authors - and nearly all movie makers - just rephrase the same lessons they absorbed, early on.

How has your involvement in the writing profession been important to you?
  
Civilization seems more interested in my art than my science. Who am I to argue with civilization?

Did you play Video games growing up and what were some of your favorites?

The first ones came out when I was already in my twenties.

Do you believe some Video Games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?

No, but they do cause addiction and that is plenty bad enough.

http://www.davidbrin.com