The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Allen Steele

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by Allen Steele, whose novels include Orbital Decay, Clarke County, Lunar Descent, Chronospace, the acclaimed Coyote series, and many more. He has also published four collections of short fiction—Rude Astronauts, All-American Alien Boy, Sex and Violence in Zero-G, and American Beauty and The Last Science Fiction Writer—and his work has appeared in many anthologies. His upcoming novel, V-S Day, releases in February 2014 from Ace.

Join us as we cover subjects ranging from the moon landing to the Grateful Dead, and more!

Allen serves on the Board of Advisors for both the Space Frontier Foundation and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and he is a former member of the SFWA Board of Directors. In April, 2001, he testified before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics of the U.S. House of Representatives, in hearings regarding space exploration in the 21st century.

He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife Linda and their dogs.


If you could be reincarnated as any historical figure, who would you like to be?

This is cheating a little bit, because he lived within my lifetime, but… I’d like to be Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969. For obvious reasons.

If you could choose your own personal theme song to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?

“Truckin’ ” by the Grateful Dead.

Do you have a favorite unknown author?

Lester Dent, who wrote the Doc Savage novels under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. The greatest pulp fiction writer ever.

V-S Day Allen SteeleCast the main characters of your upcoming novel (in other words, choose your dream cast for a Hollywood adaptation of your book).

For a film version of V-S Day, my upcoming alternate-history novel, I’d cast Ben Kingsley as Dr. Robert H. Goddard, Emma, and Christoph Waltz as Dr. Wernher von Braun.

Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?

Dr. Huer, the egghead scientist who was a principal character in the original Buck Rogers comic strip, was based on Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the inventor of the liquid-fuel rocket.

Choose your preferred fictional vacation spot: Narnia or Middle Earth (or some other fictional realm)…

I invented my own fictional vacation spot: Coyote. There’s a reason why I spent eleven years writing about this world; if it really existed, I’d live there if I could.

If you, as a ghost, could regularly haunt one celebrity, author, or literary figure, who would it be?

I would like to be a poltergeist in Sen. Ted Cruz’s Washington apartment. I’d bang pots and pans, throw the silverware around, turn on the cold water while he’s in the shower, pull the fire alarm while he’s entertaining guests, cause blackouts while he’s answering his email, and scream in his ear at three in the morning… and keep it up until he announces that he’s resigning from office and moving back to Canada.

And then I’d become a grizzly bear and eat him.


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