If you love science fiction books, you’ll want to put “Tales from the Edge of Forever” on your to-read list. Written by Alexander Hammond, an extremely talented and gracious author, “Tales from the Edge of Forever” will take you on an inward journey after which you will never be the same. These short stories will draw you in, leaving you questioning everything you’ve ever known to be true about yourself and the world in which you live.
Recently Mr. Hammond was kind enough to agree to an interview where he shared much about his early inspirations, his writing career and how he personally feels about the philosophical arguments he presents in his book.
Also, here’s your opportunity to meet Alexander Hammond in person! On March 3rd he’ll be at his book signing in New York City at the Forbidden Planet, located at 13th and Broadway. It’s at 6:30 p.m. – you won’t want to miss it!
1. How long have you been writing?
“I used to write a cartoon strip which appeared in a number of newspapers about 15 or 16 years ago. I was married then and my wife conceived the idea of a cartoon strip which we sold to a national newspaper in the UK. And it was developed to a stage whereby it was sold to about 7 or 8 newspapers internationally. And we did a compilation book which was published by Harper Collins. So that was my first published book, although the idea was my wife’s and I co-wrote it. And we also had an animation deal with a guy named Iain Harvey who produced things like The Snowman, When the Wind Blows and a number of other things. And then Rupert Murdoch closed the newspaper down which killed the project completely. But that was my first published work.”
2. Where did you draw your inspiration for your short stories?
“I’ve been a science fiction nut my whole life. My first exposure to science fiction reading was my parents. They had an awful lot of books in the house and there was an Arthur C. Clarke book there called “Childhood’s End.” I was about 8 or 9 years old when I read it. I was a huge reader but I’d never read anything like that and it completely blew me away. The guy talked about concepts and ideas that were so alien to me but were interesting. And that got my interest going. That was my ‘Science Fiction 101.’
I remember when I was 13 or 14 I encountered ‘Dune,’ which I just thought took science fiction writing to a whole new level. The whole concept of ‘Dune’ was just staggering to my mind and I just thought, ‘I want to make people feel like that book made me feel.’ So Arthur C. Clarke, Frank Herbert and ground breaking science fiction or fantasy ideas are where I get my inspiration.”
3. Which one of your short stories is your favorite? Why?
“I really enjoy the one called ‘Science Fiction.’ It had a number of elements to it. It starts off as hard core science fiction and then suddenly half way through you realize you’ve been reading it the wrong way. Then once again there’s a third twist. Of all the stories in there I feel that is the most complete and well rounded. It’s the one I enjoyed putting together the most because I was able to combine a number of different elements in it, like some really cutting edge stuff.”
4. I found some of the arguments for existence to be very profound. I can tell you’ve thought about this quite a bit to be able to write about it so extensively. How do you personally feel about the issue? Why do you think we’re all here?
“Without trying to sound pretentious, I’ve always been a seeker. I’m not anti-religious – far from it. I think the nature of existence is a question we have to ask ourselves and pursue. I think that intense interrogation of that can provide a hint of answers. I’m a hardcore meditator, 45 minutes a day every day. I’ve read all sorts of spiritual-based readings from traditional Christian teachings through the Koran, etc. I’ve read an awful lot and I’m convinced that all of these things have value but they all are just giving one hint of what’s going on. And if one interrogates that through honest investigation then I think meditation is one of those tools that can do that. I think one can begin to get at least a glimpse of what’s actually going on and why we’re here. I think the universe is a lot less benevolent then people think it is. I think that it’s a cold, hard place where bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people and people are trying to explain why these things happen. And there is no reason; there is what is. What’s important is the fact that you know that you are here like Descartes said, ‘I think therefore I am.’ And you’re here so what are you going to do about it?”
5. Having pondered the future at such great lengths, where do you think we’ll be 100 years down the road? Do you think humankind will come to a better or worse understanding of what our purpose is?
“In a hundred year’s time if we’re not all dead and we’ve managed to see through the current crisis, I think technologically we won’t be able to recognize where we are. I think that things like nanotechnology and so forth is going to get to the stage where illness and disease are a thing of the past. The big challenge is going to be population control. If the population can be controlled by whatever means then I think the quality of human life can be significantly improved and people’s lives will, generally speaking, be better. The problems we’re facing are managing the environment, the economy and birth rate. And if we can manage those things, and realizing the importance of education to understand that which we are, then I believe the world could be a much better place.”
6. Do you have any other books in the works right now?
“I’m putting the final touch on the travelogue which is called ‘Stop Me if I’ve Told You This.’ Basically I travel for a living on business and what I wanted to try to do is write an account of international traveling from a businessman’s perspective but do it with a highlight on the bizarreness and the stupidity and the wild and wonderful situations you find yourself in. So it’s written with a humorous edge, if you like. So that’s something I wrote a couple of years ago but I’m reediting it now. And I’ve also started work on something called ‘Echos from Infinity’ which is going to be a further collection of short stories along the same lines of what I’ve just written.”
7. What do you love most about your job as a writer? And what challenges have you faced?
“I love people’s reaction to stories I’ve enjoyed writing. I get a real physical and psychological ‘buzz’ from that. I write for myself with the hope that people will appreciate what I’m trying to do. The biggest challenge is…well, I don’t find writing difficult. When I say that, I don’t mean to say it just flows from the pen first draft. What I’m saying is I concentrate on an idea and just ‘vomit it up’ on page. I don’t have what some people call ‘the tyranny of the empty page.’ I don’t get ‘writer’s block.’ The challenge I find is just having enough time to do it. “
8. Did you write most of your stories in the same time frame or is this a compilation of years of work?
“It was a hardcore year’s work. I started it in January and I finished it in December.“
9. What do you want readers to get while they read this?
“A sense of wonder to sum it up in a nutshell. If I’ve achieved that then I’ve achieved my objective.”