Dear Lord, I Do Blather On, Don’t I

Here’s a long interview about Redshirts, humor, screenwriting and other stuff, over at

16 Comments on “Dear Lord, I Do Blather On, Don’t I”

  1. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang Terhune

    We like your blathering. It’s what we pay you for. So get blathering, wordboy!

  2. You do blather on. But don’t say that as if it were a bad thing. If you didn’t blather so much, what would we read on Whatever?

  3. A nice interview, although nothing really new for regular Whatever readers. But it was good to see an interviewer who’s done his homework and actually engages with his subject.

    There at the end you mentioned The Spank Chronicles: The Spankening. Is that The Human Division or the next project?

  4. Nicely done!. I want to add that I discovered your novels by way of this web site because you talk about that a bit there. I had fallen out of the SF habit many years ago because so much of it at the time did not measure up to the stuff I had been reading for 20 years. Someone directed me to your interview with the hotel manager in Bethlehem and I fell in love with your writing. As a result I picked up a couple of your books and they reignited my enjoyment of SF.

    Sadly now I find I don’t like it when you publish because it takes you away from this blog 8-{D.

  5. Ah, thanks so much for name-checking Steven Brust. (And for linking the “view all” version of the interview.)

  6. Donna Leonard – Southern California – I like to write, read, knit, crochet, watch movies, watch way too much television, listen to music and play Drawsomething 2 somewhat obsessively, not necessarily in that order. You can find my irregular blog at: 3 kids: Twenty-three-year-old boy/girl twins, and a thirteen-year-old girl. 3 cats: fourteen-year-old female, three-year-old female, and a two-year-old male
    Donna Leonard

    Not blathering –>you are an interviewer’s dream! I enjoyed it!

  7. Great blathering. It was nice to read an interview where an intelligent conversation took place. So many seem to be the KFUB-6 News at Eleven fluff piece airing just before the Jay Leno preview.
    “American sarcasticist.” Love that term!

  8. I think you were entirely too gracious in drawing the distinction between “literary” and “accessible” science fiction. The fatal problem with the former is that it emulates what English departments, the Nobel committee and other guardians of “legitimate” fiction have been shoveling for two generations: obscurantism, nihilism, and a general constipation, Thanks for writing which honors plot, character, conflict and resolution in plain English, and for the shout out to Heinlein. I was raised on RAH, Asimov, Blish, Anderson Van Vogt, Zelazny, etc., and it’s sustaining that some writers out there are still in that tradition; Morgan, who you mention, Varley.

  9. Why was Little Fuzzy not under copyright? I had thought that pretty much anything published after 1923 was, unless the author had explicitly taken steps otherwise.

  10. I wanted to let you know that I’ve found the idea of being “caught in the narrative” coming up a lot since I read “Redshirts”. Coming out of “The Dark Knight Rises” my girlfriend was asking why Bruce didn’t keep climbing up the very rough wall or use the rope to haul up material to make a bridge. He was caught in the narrative. That could mean that’s the dumb ass way he was written or it could mean that he bought into the story of how it’s supposed to be done. Same thing with why Stormtroopers didn’t shoot the legs off of Luke and Leia when the door separating them only slid up a foot. Caught in the narrative. Bad writing? Or in the minds of the Stormtroopers was that the wrong way to chase someone? Or maybe kneeling in a suit of armor is frigging impossible. Lying on the ground in full Stormtrooper gear could be like flipping a turtle on it’s back.
    Anyway, loved the book. I was expecting something closer to “Sir Apropos of Nothing” where he simply refused to play the second fiddle in his own life. But I was glad to be able to say “I didn’t see that coming” instead of “hasn’t this been written?”. I loved it. I recommend it. And I think I’m going to be using “caught in the narrative” almost as much as I use “all the (things)? ALL THE (THINGS)!”.

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