When I first started reading I gravitated to Science Fiction novels. In fact, when I was four or five, I picked up one of my parents novels and began to teach myself to read from it. No Dick, Jane and Spot for me (at least, not until I went to school).
I read everything I could find that was Science Fiction. At some point, I’m not exactly sure where or even when, I discovered Alan Dean Foster.
The first book of his that I read was a Pip and Flinx adventure. It was my first introduction into Dean’s Humanx Commonwealth but I was immediately hooked. From that moment forward, I eagerly scanned the shelves of bookstores, libraries and anywhere else I could find books for the next Alan Dean Foster book.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what captivated me the most about his books. Was it the exotic locals? The swashbuckling adventure or the complex characters? Most likely it was a combination of all of those elements. It helped set the stage for my future writing aspirations.
He also showed me how, one story at a time, an author can build an entire universe.
That’s maybe the biggest thing I take away from his writing. I have read Humanx Commonwealth books from the viewpoints of many different characters on many different worlds in different times even. Alan Dean Foster manages to make them all play together even when the only common thread is the reference to Humanx Commonwealth. Just knowing the story is taking place in the broader setting helps make things familiar.
On that note, I’ve been asked if my stories all take place in the same universe. As much fun as that would be, there are certain things that prevent that from being possible. For example, in the Mik Murdoch universe, a zombie apocalypse has never happened (and likely never will). That excludes my Boyscouts of the Apocalypse book from being in the same continuity.
GalaxyBillies and Mik Murdoch might be. It feels like a real stretch for them to exist together, but who knows? GalaxyBillies and Champ McKay definitely are.
Characterization was important for Alan Dean Foster as was making the different races unique. That included ensuring that they all had different likes/dislikes/customs and cultural norms. Methods of expression were different, strengths and weaknesses were dependent on body types and so on. Truly outstanding.
My hope is to spend more time in the broader galaxy I’m creating. I love the idea of creating new races and having them interact with each other. Earth may or may not be a big player in the coming stories. Anything is possible.