The Hogan interview, part 5: His views on science, writing YA novels and how The Saint inspired him

By Michael Grossberg

Prometheus-winning author James P. Hogan was a maverick thinker who championed both liberty and technology while recognizing the reactionary and harmful impact of government, bureaucracy and irrationality on our lives.

Such themes are woven into his 26 novels, many short stories and essays – almost all of which remain available in print and mostly remain fresh and timeless today.

Here is the fifth part of the Hogan interview:

Q: Your views of science and scientists have evolved over the years. For instance, there’s quite a different view and tone about scientists in Cradle of Saturn (a 2000 Prometheus finalist for Best Novel) than there was in Inherit the Stars, your first novel published in 1977.

James Hogan (Creative Commons license)

A: When I wrote Inherit the Stars, I wrote it as an admiring, unquestioning apologist of the scientific method and the scientific establishment as I saw it.
The scientists in the novel were all confident and honest and pursued the scientific process as it should be pursued.

But my later books reflect a growing skepticism – including the novel I’m writing now, a sequel to Cradle of Saturn.

So much of the scientific establishment is repeating what happened with the medieval church. They’re becoming the dispensers of approved truth, serving the political power structure in return for prestige, funding, security and cultural influence.

They’ve become the high priests of our culture. They are rejecting as heretical any thoughts that contradict the prevailing paradigm, the ignoring of inconvenient evidence.

Q: Tell me about your novel Martian Knightlife, recently published by Baen Books.

A: That was a foray into something different. I’d like it to become a space adventure series, loosely centered around the adventures of buccaneer Kieran Thane.
Two stories, set on Mars and each self-contained, lead into another story about the cultural diversity of a population spread across the solar system.
In this future, you’re totally free to pursue any economic experiment or political ideology. The diversity of such a culture is unimaginable to us.

A: I’m a fan of The Saint, the Simon Templar books set in the England of the 1930s. When my son Joe was 15 or 16, he read The Saintand asked me: ‘Why don’t you create a space-going Saint?’

(Editor’s note:  The Saint, also a 1962-1969 TV series and a 1997 film, is based on 14 novels, 34 novellas and 95 short stories by Leslie Charteris published between 1928 and 1971 about Simon Templar, a wealthy adventurer and 20th-century Robin Hood who travels the world to solve the unsolvable and right wrongs.)

So that loosely inspired my novels about humanity, positive and confident, expanding out into space with artificial habitats on the Moon, Mars and the Asteroid Belt. Those stories have a light touch.

Q: Several of your recent novels seem to be written for a Young Adult readership, although of course, adult Hogan fans can still enjoy them.

A: Yes. Outward Bound, a TOR book, is a coming-of-age story about a street thug kid who was recruited into the space program.

Star Child, published in 1998 in a Baen Books paperback, is about a girl on a generational spaceship. She is raised by a community of machines that inhabit the ship and create an android as a device to take care of the infant.

I also wrote about an android in a short story, “Silver Shoes for a Princess,” published by ACE in a children’s book.

Q: What motivates you to write for Young Adult readers?

A: I value the appreciation, the letters you get from the kids. I’m trying to contribute something creative and constructive that young people could benefit from.

I grew up next to a public library. And when I look back at my childhood, I realize that those books and stories mattered a lot.

Note: Check out the previously posted parts of the James P. Hogan interview: Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.


* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – for the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website, which now includes convenient links to the full set of published appreciation-reviews of past winners.

* Read “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,” an essay in the international magazine Quillette that favorably highlights the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society and the significant element of libertarian sf/fantasy in the evolution of the modern genre.

Watch  videos of past Prometheus Awards ceremonies, Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussions with noted sf authors and leading libertarian writers, and other LFS programs on the Prometheus Blog’s Video page.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.


Published by

Michael Grossberg

Michael Grossberg, who founded the LFS in 1982 to help sustain the Prometheus Awards, has been an arts critic, speaker and award-winning journalist for five decades. Michael has won Ohio SPJ awards for Best Critic in Ohio and Best Arts Reporting (seven times). He's written for Reason, Libertarian Review and Backstage weekly; helped lead the American Theatre Critics Association for two decades; and has contributed to six books, including critical essays for the annual Best Plays Theatre Yearbook and an afterword for J. Neil Schulman's novel The Rainbow Cadenza. Among books he recommends from a libertarian-futurist perspective: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist & How Innovation Works, David Boaz's The Libertarian Mind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

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