“I kept getting letters along the lines of, ‘I’ve been following the series since the beginning and I’m now 85. Could you please do some kind of wrap-up before I die?'” Foster said in an interview. “One reason I continued putting it off was because discoveries in astrophysics and astronomy kept overtaking my ideas for a climax. These days it’s hard for an SF writer to stay ahead of the scientific curve.”
Flinx, a/k/a Philip Lynx, is one of the very few survivors of gengineering experiments by a eugenicist group called the Meliorares. In this entry in the series, Flinx, continuing to need some rationale for saving civilization…any civilization…undertakes a near-suicidal jaunt to the homeworld of the Humanx Commonwealth’s mortal enemies. “Finding that rationale in the most unlikely of places, he resumes his efforts to try and forestall destruction on a galactic scale,” Foster said. “Along the way he encounters old friends…and old enemies.”
For the big finale, Foster wanted to wrap up as many loose ends and bring back as many characters from earlier on in the series as possible. “That’s easy to do,” he said. “The difficult part is making their reappearance integral to the story that’s being told.”
Foster said that unlike some writers, his stories don’t tend to be particularly personal. “I want them to relate to the characters, not to me,” he said. “But I’ve lived with these characters for 37 years, and it’s going to be hard to let even the minor ones go.”
The big finish required looking into some of the most recent aspects of string theory and related concepts of multiple universes. “That it all tied in nicely with elements from 35+ years ago was very gratifying,” Foster said.
As with most of the Pip and Flinx stories, multiple worlds are visited or mentioned in the book. “Interestingly, most are alien-occupied or alien-settled,” Foster said. “Each world has to have its own personality, flora and fauna, atmosphere, culture, etc. Harry Stubbs [a/k/a SF legend Hal Clement] is always peering over every SF writer’s shoulder.”
Foster is currently halfway through a new SF trilogy for Del Rey, Tipping Point. “The first book is The Human Blend, which is completed,” he said. “Sick, Inc., the second, is about a third finished.”
Another series, Oshanurth—a fantasy trilogy set entirely underwater—is presently being read at another publisher.