An Interview With Brian Niemeier – Part 3
A few days ago I asked 2016 Campbell Award nominee Brian Niemeier if he’d be willing to submit to an e-mail interview for the readers of this blog. He’s graciously agreed, and he’s taken the time to answer a rather lengthy series of questions. To avoid the dreaded “TL;DR” kiss of death, I’ve divided the interview into three parts. The first part focuses on Mr. Niemeier’s most well known work, the Soul Cycle series. The second part focuses on writing and Mr. Niemeier’s experiences therein. This third and final part focuses on Brian himself. Without further ado, here’s the first part. Text in bold is mine. The rest is Mr. Niemeier’s, presented exactly as he gave it to me – with one small note. My original set of questions had two questions inadvertently jammed together due to a formatting error. I have split apart both the questions and Mr. Niemeier’s answer to preserve the original intention.
Aside from authors and works previously listed as inspiration, can you tell us what your own favorite sff authors and works are?
Frank Herbert’s Dune series—the odd-numbered books only, of which book five is the last. Prequels? What prequels?
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said and Blade Runner (yes, the movie; not the book) by Philip K. Dick
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy—the print and graphic novels
Watchmen by Alan Moore
Favorite current sff show and/or movie?
If you want to be a professional writer, you have to give something up. I gave up TV.
Movies are another story. Guardians of the Galaxy is my ideal space opera. I’ll count myself truly blessed if I can approach that aesthetic, tone, and mood someday.
But the Captain America series is still the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Interstellar and The Martian are two of the best hard SF films ever made.
Followup Question: Team Cap or Team Iron Man?
Favorite current sff books?
John C. Wright’s Count to Eschaton Sequence
The Cunning Blood by Jeff Duntemann
CTRL ALT Revolt! By Nick Cole
Larry Correia’s Grimnoir series—yes, it’s sci-fi, folks.
Your blog is titled “Kairos.” Can you tell us where that came from and why you used it for the title?
For the full answer, go read Souldancer.
Short answer: it’s one of two Greek words for time.
Chronos is mundane, sequential time. Think of languishing in your final class on Friday afternoon back in high school, watching the clock tick off those last ten minutes.
Kairos is sacred time; otherworldly. It’s the word for feast days, or the experience of watching a tropical sunset and, for an unquantifiable moment, touching eternity.
Shorter answer: the title is very pretentious.
Philosophy and religion seem to be recurring underlying themes in your work. Do you have a background in these areas?
Yes. I hold a master’s degree in theology from a Catholic university of note.
No. Not that one. The non-heretical one.
You also blog at SuperversiveSF. Can you tell us how you got involved there, and how you got involved in the Superversive movement in general?
Jason Rennie, the Hugo-nominated editor of Sci Phi Journal, published my first professional short story “Strange Matter”. We have enjoyed a fast long-distance friendship ever since. Jason is also the mastermind of Superversive SF, and he asked me to write for the blog.
I became aware of the Superversive movement through Jason, my novel editor L. Jagi Lamplighter-Wright, and master essayist Tom Simon whose work I’ve greatly admired since before his landmark essay on the subject.
Heroic courage in defense of the beautiful, the true, and the good is the heart of every Superversive story. The great philosophers from Aristotle to Aquinas to von Balthasar all championed these virtues in the arts, so being a writer and a theologian, the Superversive movement is my natural home.
The word “Superversive” is still kind of settling in on exactly what it means. What does it mean to you?
I hold to Mr. Simon’s original definition of the Superversive story as one in which the main character doesn’t simply bear wrongs patiently; he takes the risk of becoming a hero. In so doing, he upholds beauty, truth, and goodness.
What did you do before you started writing?
I was messing around on the internet.
Do you still have a “real” job? If so, what do you do?
I’m a medical debt collector. Certain parties may consider my love for Christ and my hatred of error to be grounds for getting me disemployed. On the bright side, if they do I’ll have more time for writing.
I think it’s fair to say that your Campbell nomination came as a direct result of making both the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies lists, and if you hadn’t been on those lists it wouldn’t have happened. What are your personal thoughts on this?
Your analysis is correct. I’m grateful to my readers who recommended me for the Sad Puppies list—initially without my knowledge. I’m also grateful to Vox Day, who only put me on the Rabid Puppies list after his first choice was ruled ineligible.
Those who cast votes based on the Sad and/or Rabid Puppies list did so fully in accordance with the Hugo nomination rules. Their wishes carry no less weight than those of other paid members in good standing of Worldcon.
How do you feel about the Puppies campaigns in general?
Sad Puppies was an inevitable response to the overall decadence and hastening decline of the New York publishing establishment.
Recall that Sad Puppies founder Larry Correia began his writing career far from the island of Manhattan as a self-published author. His detractors misinterpret him—perhaps unintentionally—to say that there is a conspiracy against non-Leftist authors. The old gatekeepers, and the authors beholden to them, look at themselves and see no collusion; no bias. They see themselves merely behaving and thinking as all well-meaning people ought.
They should look at their sales figures. That might show them just how universal their worldview really is.
Let the CHORFs blame Sad Puppies on sour grapes over Larry’s Campbell loss. Even if he’d quietly accepted the insults that followed and had written yet another best-selling novel instead of starting SP, someone else—another lowbrow type from flyover country, no doubt—would eventually have felt the CHORFs’ petty lash and done something similar.
Worldcon should hope that someone would have. We’ve seen yet another year of record-shattering, Puppy-driven turnout. Those who’ve been quick to dismiss the Puppy campaigns as irrelevant or to vote their nominees below No Award should ponder the likely results of driving the SP and RP members—and their membership fees—away for good.
Because greater SF fandom is expanding to the corners of the map, and rumor has it that somewhere to the South, there be Dragons.