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The Wellstone

The Wellstone by Wil McCarthy
Mass Market Paperback
Mar 04, 2003 | 368 Pages
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  • Ebook $6.99

    Dec 18, 2007 | 368 Pages

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“Wil McCarthy is one of the best hard Science Fiction writers in the business.”
–Jack McDevitt

Author Q&A

My novel, THE WELLSTONE, is about the eternal confrontation between the wisdom of age and the energy of youth, in the context of an immortal (or nearly immortal) society with vast technological powers at its disposal. People can make perfect living copies of themselves, and even archive old versions of themselves for later retrieval. Thus, the wise (though not necessarily elderly) heads at Bantam felt it would be appropriate for me to interview my younger self about the book.

Wil – age 36: "So. You’re looking well. Except for the hair thing, I mean."

Wil – age 17: "Get bent, you shill. You stooge of the system. Look at you, with your fancy office clothes."

Wil-36: "Er, this is my bathrobe. I work at home."

Wil-17: "Whatever. I’m sure you’ve sold out somewhere along the line. You’ve got a beautiful house and a beautiful wife. Need I say more?"

Wil-36: "I’m supposed to live a peasant life? Is that noble? I’ve worked hard for all this, and you will, too. This book is the culmination of two decades of continuous effort — the struggle to become the greatest writer possible, without losing sight of what really matters: having fun."

Wil-17: "Oh, great. I get to slave for twenty years so you can coast and smell the roses? That sounds just lovely. I like your dog, by the way."

Wil-36: "Thanks. She’s got a raccoon allergy that’ll probably kill her if she keeps hunting at night. We can’t seem to break her of the habit."

Wil-17: "Well, we’ve all got to go sometime. Death is part of life, right?"

Wil-36: "Ah, youth. Someday, you’ll actually understand that statement."

Wil-17: "Ah, the wisdom of the midlifer. You know all about the world first-hand, or at least you think you do. But I’ve heard about it over and over from people like you. I also know it all, see? And I haven’t had to burn twenty years to get there. And I’ve got more stamina than you, so I can make better use of the information. I could have written this book just as easily as you, in half the time."

Wil-36: "My, I was a smug little bastard. I wish things were actually that simple. Part of what’s touching about THE WELLSTONE, I hope, is that there’s a bit of truth in what you say. But there’s a lot of bravado, as well. You could have written a book, yes, but not this one."

Wil-17: "Oh, but things are exactly that simple. Of course they are. All your subtlety and nuance, it’s all self-involved crap. The world is a very straightforward place, and so is your book. People should just read the thing."

Wil-36: "Every person reads from a different context. Building from their own experiences, they draw different imagery and reflection from the words. This leads to all sorts of perceived subtext – some of it quite different from what the author superficially intends. That’s part of the beauty: even a simple tale carries many layers of meaning. This is one reason fairy tales follow us into adulthood, teaching new lessons as we go."

Wil-17: "Then writing should be easy. The effort is all on the reader."

Wil-36: "There’s no space to argue that one, alas. Thanks for your time, Wil."

Wil-17: "You’re welcome. Or should I say, I’m welcome? I suppose I could do worse than becoming you. But I’m not in any hurry about it, if you know what I mean."

Wil-36: "I believe I do. Bye, now."

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