This week MasterKoda is pleased to introduce you to author Scott Seldon as he discusses Han Solo and other rough and tumble kinds of guys.
What Makes a Space Trader?
Anytime a writer puts words to a page, there is something behind it. It’s common for writers to pen the sort of thing they want to read. That is true in my case. I write science fiction about space traders because I wanted to read about them but there are precious few books about honest space traders and their smuggler counterparts.
These characters are not unknown to science fiction, in fact they are a regular staple, especially on film. You will find them in book after book, but not in the starring roles. And some of the ones purporting to be traders, are just on their way to something more important. Few characters who start out as a trader or smuggler, remain that.
One big exception is Han Solo, who I must confess is the most likely source for my obsession with traders and smugglers. He comes on the scene in the first movie as a rugged smuggler and he gets wrapped up with Luke and Leia and the rebellion, but he remains a smuggler. I was even pleased to note in the expanded universe novels that even though he is married to Leia and she is one of the political elite, Han is still a smuggler at heart and has changed very little. In the very first expanded universe novels, Han got his very own trilogy of some of his daring exploits prior to that fateful day in the Mos Eisley Catina. I devoured Brian Daley’s books. Years later A.C. Crispin did a magnificent job of expanding Han’s history even more.
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation stories are riddled with traders, but again they often had other roles later in life. There were a few other writers who touched on traders, but in much the same way. It was a means to an end. But how real to life is that? Most people find a profession and work it until they retire.
Science fiction provided only half of my inspiration. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, there was a big trucker craze in the media. The Smokey and the Bandit films, Convoy (song and film inspired by it), and several television shows. And I even found a book that linked this with science fiction, John DeChancie’s Skyway trilogy. But on the day when I penned that first scene in this world, I was primarily thinking of the delivery drivers I encountered at work. Several of them were older men who had been doing this for years and were damned good at it.
The first novel was an accident in many ways. Several accidents from being presentable to be quite honest. My main character was a wealthy trader taking jobs because he enjoyed it, not to make a living. I had set him on an adventure that turned out to be life threatening. But in the end, he really wasn’t a trader. After I’d written this first novel, I started looking around and found that traders weren’t usually the main characters or they didn’t remain traders. Well, I established from the start that Ven Zaran was a trader all his life, as was his son. Both very successful, but both having to work to keep things going to live like they wanted to.
While rare, there are other traders and smugglers out there. C.L. Moore’s Northwest Smith is one, but while he always remains true to his profession, the stories aren’t adventures in trading. Other traders build empires, but few retire in the business. I had a unique story to tell so I started telling it. I have three completed novels, working on a fourth, and a collection of short stories and novellas to go with it. Mostly I’ve confined my stories to one time period and one story line, but when I decided to assemble my story collection, I wrote a couple of stories that were far removed from Ven Zaran’s life, but in the same universe.
It really comes down to wanting to read stories about traders and smuggler, and when I didn’t find what I was looking for, I wrote the stories myself. I have fun things planned for my characters, but one thing you can be sure of, they will remain traders to the end. That is, after all, the whole point of me writing about these characters.
Scott Seldon lives with his family in Colorado and works as an IT administrator. Visit his website (sites.google.com/site/scottrseldon/) for the latest updates and to find where his books are sold.