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Space:1999 Books

Interview with William Latham on Chasing the Cyclops

Chasing the Cyclops Interview

conducted by Simon Morris

 Q:  Chasing the Cyclops is a book about…well, what exactly is Chasing the Cyclops about?

 A:  Well, quick heads up to everybody, it’s not a novel.  It’s not fiction.  When it was time to do the final entry of the Omega Diary on my web site, I started trying to pull together my notes that I always said I’d put up on the site once Omega was out.  I thought it would be one long entry.  It just started growing and growing.  There were just too many things to cover.  Particularly how we came up with the whole Powysverse mythology.  I think one weekend I had too much coffee and I just started digging in and after that first weekend I already had more than sixty pages of stuff.  So I talked to Mateo and I said let’s just put it out as a book.  People are either going to be interested or not, I don’t know.  The Space:1999 books are already a niche market, and this book’s going to appeal to a niche inside the niche.  The writers out there might be interested and there are a lot of writers out in Space:1999 land.  But this is one of those books that if we sell five copies, I’ll be happy.  Thanks to lulu.com, there’s no big investment that we have to cover.

 Q:  How is the book structured?

 A:  It’s grouped together into the sections you would expect, how the mythology was built, how the plot for Omega and Alpha were pulled together, why Spider’s Web was written in the first place, but a lot of it stems from how we were going to bring Victor Bergman back.  This book’s even got diagrams in it, cheesy old diagrams I threw together when we were figuring out how the polar ice caps on the various planets were going to be melted.  I made one rule for myself going in – I wasn’t going to try to sanitize anything.  You’ll see a lot of old analyses and emails that I sent to Mateo over the years as we pulled together the pieces and we ended up switching gears on a lot of topics.  Like the MUFs, the good one and the bad one, if you can simplify things to that degree.  The good one and the bad one kept switching identities.  The MUF of Dragon’s Domain, at least on the surface, looks very nasty.  Over time, we realized that for the story we were going to tell, the MUF of Dragon’s Domain, even the dragons themselves, were the good guys.  There are also some cool things in the book that people don’t usually get to see, like my original story treatment and the first stuff I wrote on a story or novel called “Drip” that was the birth of the brell.  I found all of it and put it in this book.  You’ll see Martin Willey’s “vetting” emails where he goes through and humbles you on matters of science or Space:1999 but occasionally has you bursting out laughing with his comments.  I usually call this going before the Supreme Court of Space:1999.

 Q:  Did you like working on this book?

 A:  Yes and no.  It’s so different from writing fiction.  It’s making me miss writing fiction because with a novel, I can tell if I think the plot’s working.  This book has a kind of plot, but it’s more like journalism, where you’re trying to tell what happened rather than show something happening.  This is a book that will be pulled away from me more than me reaching a point where I can say I’m finished.  There are always more details I could talk about. Plus, going in, knowing that you’re writing a book that’s going to appeal to a pretty small audience, you want to deliver what that small audience would want to read, and I honestly don’t know who the audience is for this book.  Is it people who really liked Omega and Alpha?  Maybe.  But they already had Omega and Alpha to read.  I guess I asked myself…is this book necessary?  Something inside me wanted to come out.  Maybe I’m writing this book for me twenty years from now.  But, back to the writers out there, there’s probably a formula in here for how to approach building a universe, or a mythology, or something in the middle, if that makes any sense.

 Q:  Is there anything in here that will surprise people?

 A:  There’s stuff in this book that surprised even me.  Especially if you know anything about Joseph Campbell.  But if there’s anything that will surprise people, it’ll be in learning how we didn’t just say hey, let’s have David Kano talking to Susurra, or a future Koenig kid.  This whole thing started from trying to bring Victor Bergman back.  The earliest analysis I found that had some of the seeds of Spider’s Web as well as Omega and Alpha was actually written in 2001, before Resurrection was even published!  The Powysverse mythology and Omega and Alpha are tightly intertwined.  But so many parts of the plot came about because of problems we had to address, like how could Victor find his way back to Alpha.

 Q:  Are we going to see more non-fiction from Powys, more Space:1999 non-fiction?

 A:  Yes.  But not from me.

 Q:  What’s next for you?

 A:  Johnny Byrne’s Children of the Gods.  That’s a pretty daunting project.  Johnny and Mateo got to spend a fair amount of time talking about it before we lost Johnny, so I’m picking up the threads from the work they did, so I always have to balance a lot of things when I work on that, including being faithful to Johnny’s original vision of it.  Then I think I’ve probably got one more Space:1999 novel in me before I call it quits.  But my dream project is something I call “Tales of Arkadia” –stories about pieces of the Powysverse mythology that warrant some more substance, like the story of Adantia from Alpha.  I don’t know that I’ll ever even write it, but I think I could have a lot of fun with that.  With the Adantia story in particular.  We’re also trying to get all of the reprints going soon, including “Eternity Unleashed” as a standalone novel.  So people can stop trying to sell it on Amazon for a gazillion dollars.

 Q:  When will Chasing the Cyclops be released?

 A:  I’m seriously shooting to have it out by mid-December, so people can have it under the tree.  It’s in its final edits now.

Q:  What’s the significance of the title?

 A:  Naturally, it’s a bad pun, on chasing a unified vision.  But don’t tell anyone.  They might groan.  But I promise, no cliffhangers, this time around.  Hey, I warned everybody!  At the end of my interview for Omega, just check out the last thing I said!