‘‘People used to say to me, ‘You were involved in the ’60s, the counterculture, the commune scene, the anti-war movement, the New Left and all that. You should write something about it.’ My answer was, ‘Me and a million others. Plus everybody knows how it all turned out, so what’s the point?’ Then one day I thought: What if it turned out differently? Any Day Now is definitely a science fiction novel, an alternate history, even though it’s more about political than technological change. The only device in the book is the geodesic dome. It’s set in 1968, the ‘hinge of the ’60s,’ you might say (though the ’60s really started in the ’50s, the breaking wave of the postwar boom), and the ‘hinge’ of the novel is a disputed presidential succession. The idea was actually swiped from Philip Roth, who apparently never knew The Plot Against America was alternate history. He thought he invented the form!

‘‘Any Day Now started as an alternate history, and then took on a little more weight for me personally as the back story developed, since the protagonist (the Dorothy, if you will) starts in small-town middle America, then scoots off to college, veers through boho New York, then lands in the hippy Southwest. He’s part of the whole ’60s mix of radical politics and counterculture. I began to feel that this was the book I should write, the more personal story I usually manage to avoid. At the same time I realized it was sort of paradigmatic, not really my own story but a common, archetypal story, not just of that era but in all of Western literature: the kid goes from the boonies to the metropolis (Paris, London, New York) and flies or flops or whatever. But mostly it’s the story of a whole generation of young people. Where did 1968 come from? I got there on the same train as 150,000 others and I described the ride.”

‘‘I don’t read a lot of modern novels. I read historicals or go back and read Victorian stuff. The modern novelists I admire most are what they call ‘women’s mid-list’, where the old rules of fiction are still in play. Writers like Jane Smiley, Cecelia Holland, and Ann Tyler still have that greater level of sincerity and involvement, instead of trying to stay aloof.”

‘‘I’m doing quite a bit of editing for PM Press, the ‘Outspoken Authors’ series, too. We do two or three books a year, all the same format: a short story or two, a lefty or at least progressive rant, and an extended interview. Science fiction authors only. PM is a small anarchist press in Oakland, and Ramsey Kanaan, the publisher, wanted to get into SF, so I got tagged, since I have a history editing with small lefty presses.

‘‘The first book I published in the series was actually my own, The Left Left Behind, which was a satire of the Left Behind series – Christian novels about the Rapture, (which are, by the way, probably the best selling fantasy books in America today). Then I did The Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson. Of course Stan is a big name. That’s what Ramsey wanted: identifiable big names in science fiction. The third book I did was by Eleanor Arnason, who is not a big name (she’s more like me) but a heavyweight writer. Huge names like Le Guin or Moorcock were easy to work with. Ursula was great, and Moorcock was just a sweetheart, very generous with his time. I put the material together, and I also do the interviews. With Le Guin, I would ask a long question and get a short answer, but it was great! With Moorcock, all I had to do was ask a very short question, and I’d get a long, beautiful answer.”

‘‘I’ve also been working on movies. A fool’s errand, but hey. Two guys in Brooklyn have optioned ‘The Hole in the Hole’, a junkyard-on-the-moon story that’s about 20 years old. ‘Necronauts’, my first Playboy story, got optioned by the guys who did Reanimator, but that’s gone on for about four years and they can’t get any traction. I’ve written a few independent screenplays where I get paid, but not Hollywood (WGA) money. I did a screenplay about Paul Robeson that looks like it’s going to get made next year. To see your name in Variety is a thrill. (Variety is the Locus of Hollywood.) Have we mentioned comics? I’m also doing a script for a graphic novel version of Walter Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. And hoping it finds a home. If all this sounds like fun, well, it is. Writers chase lots of dreams – like fame, fortune, immortality – that may or may not come true. But what you do get if you’re lucky, like me, is a life in literature. And that’s a great privilege.’’