Karl Gallagher is a science fiction author and engineer like myself, but he’s a much more famous sci-fi author than I am. He’s the creator of the Torchship series as well as a number of fantasy works.

Tamara Wilhite: How does your engineering background affect your interest and creation of science fiction?

Karl Gallagher: It pushes me toward the “hard” side of SF. I look at the practical issues with new inventions and worry about the logistics of my protagonist’s situation. On a meta level, I track metrics on myself as a writer and have a graph of the new words I’ve produced monthly. I’ll also do flowcharts of my plans.

Tamara Wilhite: I read your analysis of “The Diamond Age” and nanotech. Do you think the model of elites issuing and controlling nano-tech or de facto replicators is a practical sustainable model?

Karl Gallagher: I that model can be both practical and sustainable, but that doesn’t mean its desirable. An elite having control of the means of production has happened in various ways and held on for a long time. Europe’s feudal lords were the owners of the farms for centuries. The Communist Party held power in the Soviet Union for decades, and the People’s Republic of China just surpassed that run. So I think it can work, and it could keep working for a long time, but
I wouldn’t want to live there. Could be a great setting for a story though.

Tamara Wilhite: What technologies do you think are on the horizon? And which were inspired by science fiction?

Karl Gallagher: Reusable rocketships seem to finally be practical. Elon Musk’s Starship looks like it came off an old Astounding cover. More recent technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality draw on science fiction for applications–Snow Crash, Dream Park–and are becoming actually useful.

Tamara Wilhite: What inventions do you think are predicted by scifi but unlikely to become reality?

Karl Gallagher: Flying cars, in the sense of something that switches between driving on roads and flying. The constraints for each mode conflict too much. I expect cars will be displaced by some kind of VTOL personal transport. The most unlikely thing is the unlimited wealth society predicted in some utopian fiction. People are going to disagree on goals and compete for status. No matter how much material and energy we have there’ll be that source of conflicts and shortages.

Tamara Wilhite: You’re obviously a fan of the Honor Harrington novels. What does it mean to have been an Executive Officer in the Manticore Navy?

Karl Gallagher: The TRMN fan group doesn’t ask that much of its XOs. I would step in if the commander wasn’t available, which didn’t happen much. More often I’d organize group events. Very relaxing compared to being a battalion executive officer in the Texas State Guard, which involved lots of paperwork, logistics support, and keeping NCOs away from each other’s throats.

Tamara Wilhite: I know you’re a gamer and a fan of WoW. It seems to have led to other projects, as well. For example, what did you do with the Ogre Objective games and Steve Jackson?

Karl Gallagher: I’ve been playing Ogre since the 1980s. I wrote some articles for SJ’s in house webzine in the early 2000s for Ogre and the GURPS RPG. Since Ogre has been revitalized by the Kickstarter edition I’ve written scenarios and fiction pieces for it. I also ran a nine player game of my “Salvage” scenario at the first Fnordcon.

I’ve also run lots of tabletop roleplaying games, from Tunnels and Trolls to Firefly games. Some of my RPG scenarios have wound up in later fiction pieces.

Tamara Wilhite: What other fantasy have you written?

Karl Gallagher: Earlier this year I released a fantasy duology, The Lost War and The War Revealed. It’s the story of a group of historical reenactors who are flung into a fantasy world and must struggle to survive. I’ve also published some shorts. “Squire Errant” (Cirsova #2) tells of a squire rallying peasants to fight off a monster. “Bargain”(Daily SF) is a flash piece, a deity coming to collect on an offered deal.

Tamara Wilhite: The Torchship trilogy came out in 2018. Are you planning on any more novels in that universe? What else are you working on?

Karl Gallagher: Michigan Long’s story is complete. She earned her retirement and I don’t want to ruin it. I may write other stories in the Torchship setting some day but don’t have any ideas yet. My current work in progress is a space opera series. An isolated colony regains contact with the rest of the human race and discovers it’s ruled by a nasty empire. The first volume should be out next spring. I have several short stories in work and a few more in submission at various markets.

Tamara Wilhite: What else would you like to add?

Karl Gallagher: I deeply appreciate how the internet has changed publishing. In the past I’d thought of writing fiction, but there were too many authors whose work went unread because they couldn’t fight their way through the system. I confined my storytelling to the role-playing table. Now I can share my stories with the world, and while I may only appeal to a small niche it’s wonderful making connections with them.