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Interview Joe Bonadonna

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This week we have Joe Bonadonna talking about his book Three Against The Stars




What was the most surprising thing you found out while researching/writing your latest book?

 I really didn’t do much scientific research at all. What research I did do was on the history of the United States Marine Corps. Then I re-read all the classic space opera novels I own, found many others I’d never read, the read dozens of comic books, watched the original Flash Gordon serial for the “umpteenth” time, and also a lot of old war movies, and even westerns. My story is not about futurist technology: it’s about the characters first, and then the plot.

Why did you choose this setting?

My setting is 2172 AD. (I have no idea why I chose that year.) The first scene in chapter one opens on an “unnamed” planet; scenes 2 and 3 take place in Chicago and San Francisco. As we travel through space aboard interplanetary, intergalactic, and interstellar space vessels, the plot unfolds on several other planets in fictional galaxies. But most of the story is set on the planet Rhajnara, in the Shandru Galaxy. The United Space Marines are stationed at Camp Corregidor, near the city of Tantrapur.  Since the novel is my homage to Kipling’s Gunga Din, I wanted a setting that echoed India in some ways. I also like world-building, which I do in my fantasy and sword & sorcery stories.

What’s unique about your world?

 The Rhajni, the native species of Rhajnara, are a proto-feline humanoid species. While this is nothing new in science fiction, I did try to add something to the mix, so I made up two dominant races: the Grimalka and the Felisians. The Felisians are recovering from a long war against the Khandra Regime — a fascist government formed by the Grimalka. Rhajni level of technology is about equal to that of Earth’s in the 1940s. The plot of the story is concerned with the Khandra Regime trying to retake their planet and institute a pogrom of ethnic cleansing, in order to rid Rhajnara of the Felisians, once and for all. In this effort, the Khandra are allied with the Drakonian Hegemony, a species of proto-reptilian humanoids. The Hegemony is also at war with Earth and their allies, the Ornitori of the Omegan Federation; the Ornitori are a species of proto-avian humanoids.

How real do you think the science is in your book?

Some of it’s real and some is theoretical, most of it I just made up. I have Comanche AEVs — All Environment Vessels that are based on the Apache attack helicopter. There are 3-D books and visual displays, and holographic costumes my characters “wear” to disguise themselves so they can sneak into the enemy stronghold. I use wormholes for traveling from one galaxy to another. I have laser weapons, ray guns, and Taser-like weapons. Of course I use FTL — Faster Than Light drive for my starships, and I’ve thrown in flying cars, skysleds, and many nods and “Easter Eggs”  to classic films and novels. (My wormholes and colonies, for example, are named for the literary masters of Science Fiction.) I give a nod to the Flash Gordon serials with the use of “polarite” ore, and most readers should recognize my Diascan Unit as a relative of Star Trek’s medical Tricorder. My Questron Transmitter is a near instantaneous, subspace radio, inspired by the late Ursula K. LeGuin’s “Ansible.” There’s even a robot bartender named Isaac, who was named, obviously, after Isaac Asimov, but if you remember, the bartender on The Love Boat TV show was also named Isaac. But Three Against The Stars is not hard science fiction: it’s pure space opera adventure.

What was the most mundane item that you used that really has cool tech behind it? What is the tech?

I guess that would be the “Eddy” machine gun. Since there’s a lot of humor coming from my characters, I’ll describe it in the words of Sergeant Cortez, who is not well-schooled in Earth history or the centuries in which events took place: “This beauty is based on the Tommy gun made famous by gangsters during the world wars of the nineteenth century. But now we call it the Eddy. It was named for some gringo inventor named Edison. The Eddy fires three hundred electrified quartz rounds, with consumable cartridge castings from a single clip. If the enemy is wearing body armor, you can still fry the dirty sons of adultery.” Now, that weapon is a nod to Jules Verne.

What did you include that you wish was real today?

 Have my brain put into a healthy, 18-year old body.

What technology or science do you think will most affect the world of tomorrow?

 I’ll just have to say that medical technology will, I hope, benefit the human race.

Anything else I should put in the interview?you would like to share with our audience?

Well, besides Space Opera, I write Heroic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Children’s Books, and Sword & Planet. I also write for Janet Morris’ award-winning Heroes in Hell series, and for Black Gate e-Magazine.

Thank you very much!