Interview with Ander Nesser

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading academic papers or popular science books, and solving math problems.
When did you first start writing?
In high school I wrote an atrocious 70,000-word story. But I did not write any fiction in college, since there was no time. At least I wrote plenty of academic essays during that period.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
A suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It influenced my writing not at all, other than attitudes from the general national culture and the fact I use English. Probably amongst the most important inheritance from that culture are the ideas of Classical Greece and Enlightenment Europe. But more important than culture is the struggle to stand outside of culture and look at the world objectively through critical, careful thinking.
Why do you write SF, as opposed to some other genre?
I write fiction because stories are entertaining. Secondly, I write science-fiction as opposed to some other type of fiction because I'm interested in reality, and science is the best way to get at reality. Then why not just write essays, you might ask. I would refer you to the first half of the answer: stories are more entertaining to me. But good stories are not lies; they use metaphor to explore ideas.
Do you think it is acceptable to use characters in a story as mouthpieces for a philosophical point-of-view?
Unless the character is really flat, he will have a philosophical viewpoint. It's hard to have a story without characters of differing perspectives who generate conflict with each other. But problems arise when authors straw-man the viewpoints with which they disagree, and attempt to convince or appeal to the reader with heavy-handed, sloppy arguments--or worse yet, by mere emotional manipulation. That is something I aim to avoid in my writing.
Do you ever worry that your work focuses too much on the physical sciences and not enough on the human condition?
Humans are or are amongst the most complicated objects in the known universe. I don't know that I'm smart enough to understand them, or that I can model them to sufficient approximation. Being human myself seems to be of little help, since the prospect for self-deception and tempting delusion is strong. However, I think I can understand much simpler objects, such as atoms, stars, and planets. So I tend to focus on the reality beyond humanity. Nonetheless, I retain the hope, perhaps naively, that sometimes I might glimpse an insight into the deep expanse generated by several hundred trillion neural connections, and that I might communicate this glimpse to the reader.
What kind of a name is Ander Nesser? Swedish or Arabic?
My surname is of Germanic origin. "Ander" is a form of Andrew, my middle name.
Published 2017-08-15.
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Books by This Author

Price: Free! Words: 54,350. Language: English. Published: February 17, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
In the future, probes are launched from Earth to nearby star systems. After transmitting their findings back to Earth, a starship ferries colonists to a new world. But the manned expedition finds something very different from what the probes promised. Now, while struggling to fit in with a crew of scientists, ship’s clerk Ryder Kask works to uncover the growing mysteries surrounding their mission.
The Vandal's Shadow
Price: Free! Words: 14,560. Language: English. Published: January 21, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
When an unknown substance on a public sundial is thought to be evidence of foul play, Detective Wyatt Kask is called in by the police to help determine the nature of the crime. Over the course of the night, Kask and the Sheriff of Wellington are pulled into a bizarre labyrinth of industrial espionage.
Tower of the Lost Ways
Price: Free! Words: 7,490. Language: American English. Published: September 5, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
(3.00 from 1 review)
In the far future, a young woman named Aoi explores forbidden regions of her ancient city. She soon stumbles upon evidence of a possible looming catastrophe. But will the powerful elites of her society heed her warning before it is too late?
Silent Shapes of Mist and Stone
Price: Free! Words: 8,590. Language: American English. Published: April 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
(3.00 from 1 review)
After a long interstellar voyage, a crew of scientists has arrived at another star system. But when they begin to explore a planet for possible future human settlement, they find hints at the presence of alien life. As a dark secret comes to light, some of the crew find themselves in a fight for their own survival.