Author tickled -- and nervous -- to collaborate with Arthur C. Clarke
By Jamie Allen
(CNN) -- Science fiction writer Stephen Baxter says when he first started collaborating with Arthur C. Clarke on the new novel "The Light of Other Days" he was a bit nervous.
Clarke is, after all, the author of groundbreaking novels like "2001: A Space Odyssey" and, oh yeah, the guy who dreamed up the idea of communication satellites.
But Clarke, 82, is also the one who initiated the idea to work with the 42-year-old Baxter, whose previous work includes the novels "The Time Ships" and "Moonseed." Clarke drew up a four-page outline and sent it to Baxter via email. (They had earlier worked on a short story together).
So while Baxter was a little nervous about writing a novel with Clarke, he got over it.
"It was easier by email than face-to-face," Baxter said by telephone from his home east of London. "I could kind of forget that it was Arthur and imagine he was one of my writing buddies."
"The Light of Other Days" (Tom Doherty Associates) is the story of an industrialist who discovers by accident a way for people to see each other at all times, even in their most private moments. Later, it is discovered how to see into the past. The book follows the ramifications of such a discovery.
Baxter says he and Clarke based their book's futuristic ruminations on quantum physics.
"The science of our gadgets is based on wormholes, so it's all Einstein's relativity," says Baxter. "But we put it to such outrageous uses.
"I do think some of these things are possible," he says. "It may not come about the way we sketched it there ... but I'm convinced we're going to learn more and more about the past as we go on and something like that vision is going to be there in the future."
The book is highly anticipated. Baxter says it took he and Clarke four months to write it, all by email correspondence. Once they decided on an outline for the book, Baxter took the first stab at writing it, and Clarke played helper.
"I started typing the first draft, and Arthur did research," says Baxter. "And Arthur, being Arthur, was able to tap the world's experts on President Lincoln, for instance. And back would come (by email) -- within a day -- a 4,000-word essay on the aspect of Lincoln I was looking for. It was scary, but fantastic.
"He was my gopher, you know," laughs Baxter.
After several drafts, Baxter says he's happy with the outcome.
"I really wanted it to be an Arthur Clarke book," says Baxter. "It's basically an Arthur Clarke idea, so I wanted it to be an Arthur Clarke book, the kind I've always loved. So if the critics enjoy it in that way, it would be terrific."
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