Monday, November 21, 2005

The Adventures of Professor Thompson Tang Gao, Rationalist

I've always wanted my own recurring SF character: a person and milieu that could generate a whole whack of stories, and I could revisit periodically to see how we've both developed.

As luck would have it, I have just such a character in Professor Thompson Tang Gao. Named after the surnames of my roommates when I first moved out, the true scope of the professor's adventures came to me in a dream, which is self-indulgently cool. His adventures come to me in non-linear fashion, and so far I've got:

Episode I: Professor Thompson Tang Gao & the Creatures from Planet X (read it for free right here, or in Amazing Heroes vol. 1)

Episode II: The Case of the Martian Ambassador (read it for free at Would That It Were)

Episode IV: Professor Thompson Tang Gao & the Clockwork Man (upcoming in Robots & Time, from Altair Press)

Episode XX (or so): Negation Elimination (in All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories)

Episode XXI (or so): Professor Thompson Tang Gao & the Nature of Reality (currently in progress)

Part of the inspiration for Professor Gao came from my realization that some science fiction stories -- the ones that comprise the original Foundation Trilogy, for instance -- are really a sort of fantasy. Part of their allure is in imagining, for the duration of a story, anyway, that rationality might really allow one to predict the future (or solve crimes with perfect accuracy, which I assume is what fans of the CSI shows are responding to).

That first story was written back in 2000, when the idea of a lone rationalist making his way in an irrational universe seemed sort of quaint; now, it seems positively vital.


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