I had watched the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour one March night in 1986. The Soviet Union was mired in Afghanistan, the U.S. was toying with sticking its nose into a nasty civil war in Nicaragua, Lebanon was in shambles, half of Africa was killing the other half, horror stories were still spinning out of Cambodia, and US and Soviet subs were playing dangerous games of hide and seek. Iran and Iraq were gassing and shooting each other by the tens of thousands. The Arab-Israeli thing was, well, the Arab-Israeli thing. The Irish were butchering each other in Belfast. Mutual Assured Destruction consisted of enough fissionable warheads to ensure that nothing with a vertebra would be viable on the morning after. SDI was ready to take us to the next level. No end but annihilation was making odds in Vegas.
As I lay in bed that night I wondered what a visitor from another planet would have thought of us; it came to me that perhaps there was a reason why no extraterrestial intelligence had ever contacted us. They ’d have been out of their minds! Think about it. If you were out there watching, would you want anything to do with such a vicious and violent bunch of psychopathic primates?
Given that, the Ahimsa popped into my head. If you’re not a psychopath yourself, but need a little psychopathic work done, why not come to earth? Which is of course, what the Ahimsa did in STARSTRIKE. The problem, as the Ahimsa character named Spotted finds out, is that once you let a bunch of tricky and unpredictable humans loose, you’d better have a way of keeping tabs on them.
This book amazes me. The politics are dated. Really dated. In fact, as I was negotiating the deal with DAW, the Berlin wall came down. I was doing the final revisions for the story prior to publication, and the Chomorro government won the Nicaraguan election from Daniel Ortega. I had to move some events to Cuba — and hope dearly that Castro didn’t fold before the publication date.
Here we are, years later. Humanity is still mostly nuts, though we show signs of hope; American and Russian soldiers work together to keep Albanians from killing Serbs in Kosovo; Lebanon is pulling itself up by the bootstraps; and old enemies are working to make Mozambique a good place to live for all of its people. STARSTRIKE continues to sell and Castro remains in control of Cuba. Hey, Fidel, want to lay any wagers about whether STARSTRIKE is still in print long after you’re gone?