Did you’envision the entire Prescot series of novels from the beginning, or has it grown (out of control) as a result of good sales and a decision to go with-a winner?
Before a word was written a great deal of work was done in shaping up the story of Dray Prescot as a series beginning at the beginning and ending near the end. Writing convinced me that to deal faithfully with all the ideas and concepts I wanted to use would mean a very long series indeed. Donald A. Wollheim who has through-out been extraordinarily helpful and enthusiastic suggested we break the story down into Cycles, with linking words, to keep an understandable order. Some critics have said the story moves slowly, others have said it races along too fast. This means, I suggest, that it is going at the right pace for most of us. So that the story has grown only in the sense that due weight is now being given to all components. I was concerned at the beginning to make it move along, and so handled some segments in a briefer fashion than they warranted, so that instead of the story being out of control it is truer to say that I exercised too much control. In a sense to revert to the previous question, this was a kind of commercialism; but it arose from the same reason, to make each volume an entity. Although the work is close to me and something in which I greatly delight, I try never to lose sight of the reader--- and the first reader is me ---and play fair with the reader all the time. (This observation includes comment on the scene in SWORDSHIPS of the lost cassettes.)
Dray Prescot is a man who wins, who never gives up, who is out to “beat the system” (the aliens, others) and “fight City Hall”, i Is his character what you consider the basic character of mankind?---or is his character a necessary part of story-telling for a saga? How much is Prescot commercial, how much your gut view?
I feel it would be presumptuous to suggest any one character is the basic .one of mankind as a whole; but in all the diversity of character it is generally agreed there are two-grand divisions, the winners and the losers. If every one was a winner the place would probably be in more of a shambles than it is now. As to a racial drive in the character of mankind as a whole, I think we have to regard that as existing because we are here. [Racial means mankind, not the modern meanings tagged on to the word). So as the mass drives relentlessly on individuals are scraped off. Society today is more concerned than ever it has been over rescuing these people. The results will show up more clearly in another fifty years or so. As to a saga, yes, whether doomed in the grand sense or successful in what he sets out to do, the hero of a saga has to be heroic. It wouldn’t be a saga or a heroic fantasy if he wasn’t. All that means is it would be another story, neither better or worse. Prescot as a man and as a story is probably --- apart from amateur work ---the least commercial work I have ever done, in placing a human being in situations of which we know. A great many years of storing up information have gone into providing material for the Dray Prescot series and I suppose the only commercial restraints have been that each volume of the series , must approach as closely as possible an entity, whereas in fact the whole story is siJUply a single unit. As a person I am vastly different from Prescot and so-I must assume either he is a fantasy projection of wish-fulfillment or a partially resolved statement on my part of the kind of character needed in troubled times, and therefore a direct answer to the current type of angle-character. I say answer and not challenger, for there is room for all kinds. It remains to be seen in the real world just who will have to carry on and get the world out of the mess it is in.