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Russ Colson

Swarm Mentality, fiction, March 1, 2010
Russ Colson lives with his wife, Mary, on a farmstead in northern Minnesota, far enough from city lights to see the Milky Way and the aurora borealis. He teaches planetary science, meteorology, and geology at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Before coming to Minnesota, he worked at the Johnson Space Center in Texas and at Washington University in St. Louis where, among other things, he studied how a lunar colony might mine oxygen from the local rock. He writes a variety of speculative fiction and non-fiction pieces appearing in Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine, Clarkesworld Magazine, and others.


Get to know Russ..

Birthdate? March 5, 1959

When did you start writing? In 6th grade I wrote my first story that received public exposure, a story that examined a young deer's journey through the changing seasons. My teacher read it to the class, until, during the 3rd year of the deer's life, the story became too repetitive to bear and she graciously set the story aside!

When and what and where did you first get published? My first paying publication was a science fiction novelette titled "The Planet Engineer" in a now-defunct magazine called "The Thinkling" back in the mid 1980's. I didn't write for a couple decades after that but I have more recently published stories in Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine, Flash Me Magazine, and others.

What themes do you like to write about?  I like for my short fiction to examine core human ideas such as hope/despair, faith/doubt, optimism/cynicism, truth/falsehood, meaning/chaos, and the like, and to involve characters who discover something new about themselves.  My stories typically have an optimistic core and a hopeful ending, however dark the journey there might be.

Why do you write? I find writing therapeutic and fun, and it's a way to give something of myself.

What books and/or stories have most resonated with you as an author? Why? How do these stories and their characters find expression in your work? Although I played around with writing from the time I was in grade school, and completed my first novel before I reached 20 (unpublished--fortunately!), I owe the more recent revival of my interest in writing science fiction to the stories of Julie Czerneda. After taking my academic post in Minnesota, I became very busy and didn't read or write for a long time. Then, around 2000 and during a dark time in my life, I read Julie's wonderful science fiction adventure A Thousand Words for Stranger and started having fun again. Her stories are full of adventure, relationship, and optimism. They reach into myth, wonder, and mystery just enough to engage without overwhelming the characters and their journey. I would like to write that kind of story as well.

Why do you write Science Fiction and/or Fantasy? Science Fiction is a versatile genre permitting adventure, romance, and discovery in exotic situations, and which allows serious issues or ideas to be examined in a "safe" forum removed from the baggage that a more realistic setting often engenders.

Who is your favorite author? Your favorite story? My favorite modern author is Julie Czerneda who wrote A Thousand Words for Stranger, a book which reignited my excitement with reading and writing after a long drought.

My favorite author as a youth was Edgar Rice Burroughs, writing Tarzan of the Apes and other stories that taught me a hunger for adventure, honor, and discovery.

What are you trying to say with your fiction?Usually I'm not trying to say anything in particular, but rather I'm trying to get people to think and feel. In novels, I hope to entertain by examining the development of character relationships within the context of an adventure. In short stories, my characters often deal with philosophical concepts such as truth, science, and faith.

Do you blog? Where? No. Nowhere.

If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say? Russ Colson, a good friend.


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