Challenge 869 Response
with Bill Kowaleski
“A Revelation” appears in issue 869.
[B. K.] In Brighter than the Stars, we learn that the Sirians created humans for their own pleasure. I think I mention this somewhere in Creative Destruction, though I don’t remember where. So the intermarriage and cross-breeding is, within the context of the world of Creative Destruction, completely plausible.
[Don W.] Yes, I also seem to recall a mention of the Sirians’ prehistoric hanky-panky earlier in Creative Destruction. Science fiction has long made use of the trope “We’re property,” but it’s usually taken a sinister turn. I find your Sirians quite amusing; these space aliens’ idea of fun and games seems to have had unintended consequences and gotten seriously out of hand!
[B. K.] I tried to portray Bourbonnais as reasonable, so I think most readers would find his political conversion plausible, but probably not everyone. If he’d been portrayed as inflexible, then, no, he would just say that the Eridanean doctor was lying to him. But then why would the doctor do that?
[D. W.] I think it works out well: Bourbonnais is shaping up as a complex and interesting character, because he takes the long view and thinks on his feet — or as best he can while lying in a hospital bed! He is not a “true believer” like Maria Schoenbrun, who reappears in chapter 29. If he were, he would be merely a dogmatic cultist, an “accident going somewhere to happen,” so to speak. Readers will react to Maria Schoenbun with: “Uh-oh, here she comes!” but will take a liking to Bourbonnais and wonder what he’ll do next.
[B. K.] I don’t know how people react to the news that we interbred with Neanderthals, but you do seem to understand that I’ve substituted the Sirians for the Neanderthals :-)
[D. W.] If anybody even knows what paleo-genetic research has discovered, will they care? I imagine they’ll think, “Okay, so I’m four percent Neanderthal. That must explain something about me, but what?”
I like the idea of having Neanderthal ancestors. Maybe Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sap. sap. got along, had kids, raised families, etc. And I wouldn't mind a Sirian or two, either; anybody who could come all that way — even if only for a frisky holiday — must have some smarts.