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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster (born November 18, 1946) is a prolific American writer of science fiction and fantasy novels and movie novelizations. He was born in New York City, and currently resides in Prescott, Arizona, with his wife.

He is best known for his science fiction novels set in the Humanx Commonwealth, an interstellar ethical/political union of species including humankind and the insectoid Thranx. Many of these novels feature Philip Lynx ("Flinx"), an empathic young man who has found himself involved in something which threatens the survival of the Galaxy. Flinx's constant companion since childhood is a minidrag named Pip, a flying, empathic snake capable of spitting a highly corrosive and violently neurotoxic venom.

In the area of fantasy, his best-known work is the Spellsinger series, in which a young musician is summoned into a world populated by talking creatures where his music allows him to do real magic whose effects depends on the lyrics of the popular songs he sings (although with somewhat unpredictable results).

Many of Foster's works have a strong ecological element to them, often with an environmental twist. Often the villains in his stories experience their downfall because of a lack of respect for other alien species or seemingly innocuous bits of their surroundings. This can be seen in such works as Midworld, about a semi-sentient planet that is essentially one large rainforest, and Cachalot, set on an ocean world populated by sentient cetaceans. Foster usually devotes a large part of his novels to descriptions of the strange environments of alien worlds and the coexistence of their flora and fauna. Perhaps the most extreme example of this is Sentenced to Prism, in which the protagonist finds himself trapped on a world where life is based on silicon rather than carbon, as on Earth.

Foster has been so prolific that he is often rumored to have been the ghostwriter on novels with which he had little direct involvement, such as the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was credited to (and actually written by) Gene Roddenberry. However, it has recently become known that he was responsible for the original story treatment for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

It has long been known that Foster co-wrote the original novelization of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, which had been credited solely to George Lucas. When asked if it was difficult for him to see Lucas get all the credit for Star Wars, Foster said "Not at all. It was George's story. I was merely expanding upon it. Not having my name on the cover didn't bother me in the least. It would be akin to a contractor demanding to have his name on a Frank Lloyd Wright house."

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Posted by Bookworm at 10:22 AM |

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