The Newspaper of the Science Fiction Field
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The World & Its Wonders
(from the May 1997 issue -- Order)
Photo by Beth Gwinn
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Sean Russell studied philosophy before settling in Vancouver. His first published novel was an Oriental fantasy, The Initiate Brother (1991, DAW), followed by the sequel Gatherer of Clouds (1992). A second fantasy duology, set in the West at the time of Darwin, was World Without End (1995) and Sea Without a Shore (1996). He recently completed the first of two other connected fantasies, Beneath the Vaulted Hills, and is working on its sequel.
"My first sale to DAW became a two-book series, The Initiate Brother and Gatherer of Clouds, my books about the Eastern tradition. When I was writing them, I thought, 'What can I do that's different from Tolkien?' One of the things about LOTR is how little overt magic there is. What Tolkien did was create a world in such incredible detail and with such inferred history that you just believed it. You don't have to have all this flash-and-dash magic that I'm seeing in a lot of Tolkien imitations. They've misunderstood their source."
"World Without End grew out of an interest in Darwin and early science, the Age of Discovery, all those things. I started thinking about the development of science, and our attitudes toward the natural world. I thought, 'What would a world look like that was changing from a magical worldview to a scientific, rather than from a religious worldview to a scientific one (which is what happened in our culture)?'..."
"I've sold a trilogy to Avon. The working title is 'The Swans' War'. It's going to be going into a period of history that's been mined a little more often than the other two I've used, so it's going to be a challenge to do something a little different with it. This is going to be somewhat more medieval, and center to some degree around a tournament -- jousting, etc. But really what it's going to be about is two families that split a kingdom trying to put their children on the throne..."