Recently, J. Ellington Ashton Press’s Wicked Little Things podcast had the privilege to interview and hang out with Rex Hurst. Rex Hurst is the author of the science fiction book, Across the Wounded Galaxy, which will be coming out soon.
I wanted to interview Rex Hurst in a text interview for Comicbooked.com as well.
Brian Barr: Thank you for doing this interview, Rex. I’m here to talk with you about your debut science-fiction novel, Across the Wounded Galaxy. Before we talk about your book, can you introduce yourself?
Rex Hurst: I’m a writer originally from Buffalo, NY, “home of the wing”, and relocated down to South Carolina due to the fact that Buffalo is essentially a giant slum with no job potential. And I’m not just bellyaching. Nearly everyone I grew up with, an entire generation, has left the area due to a lack of opportunity. So if any young people from Buffalo are reading this and want to know how to succeed. Step one is to: GET OUT!
BB: So your novel is connected to a science-fiction universe created by a role-playing game universe, if I remember correctly. Can you tell us about the universe, its creators, and why you wrote this novel for them?
RH: The universe of my book is based on the Battlelords of the 23rd Century setting, an obscure RPG that was crafted in the early 1990s. I set it in this universe mostly due to nostalgia, it’s a game I played with my friends for hours, but also because I felt that it was deserving of a further look. It was deeply detailed and rich in history, fascinating alien races, and every sort of sci-fi weirdness you could want. And while the game is relatively dead, I felt the setting was ripe for a new genre. Incidentally there is also a webcomic also based in the Battlelords universe called What the Fott. So I’m not the only one with this idea.
The Battlelords setting revolves around the Alliance, a 12 race mutual defense organization in the Milky Way galaxy, attempting to repel an alien incursion of the Tr’laa a species that conquers or exterminates other races, due to whether the Tr’laa feel they can be integrated into some aspect of their society.
What really attracted me to rediscover this setting was the fact that the Alliance is shaky at best and that most of these races hate each other and would probably be at war if there wasn’t an overarching enemy looming in the background.
What also attracted me was the lack of human centeredness. Most sci-fi has the humans taking the lead. It’s obvious to see why in films and tv, due to budgetary reasons. But in comics and text there is no reason for it. For me I always wanted to see the aliens and this has more than any other. In this setting the humans are sidelined, a spent and near extinct species.
BB: Now that we’re familiar with the universe this novel is set in, what is Across the Wounded Galaxy about?
RH: It is a somewhat violent story that follows three alien protagonists whose stories all converge at the end: Drake, a technician that gets kidnapped by pirates and forced to join in their activities. Almon an energy manipulator who has ties to the intelligence community; and Raskor-idan a military failure from a violent race who is looking to make a name for himself. Nominally it is about a villain Oxtiern who has stolen a vital piece of technology and the agents sent to take him down. It travels through multiple worlds, warzones, cultures, exploded planets, pirate clans, rogue cities, until all the characters are thrown unwillingly together and must face a final evil and a horrible decision. Not everyone survives.
BB: When does your novel come out and where will it be available?
RH: It should be available around May in ebook format, available on Nook and Kindle, and should be available in paperback shortly thereafter.
BB: Who are your favorite science-fiction authors? Do you have any favorite science-fiction movies or shows? I’m also aware that you’re a fan of comics.
RH: Three really. The first being sci-fi writer H. Beam Piper with his Paratime Police and Little Fuzzy series, and the books Space Viking, Federation, and Empire. His stories are often called “workmanlike” almost in a derogatory sense, but I took from him a practicality about how an economy and society would evolve and work in a multiple world culture, or if it even could. He took an intelligent look at life on other planets, but filled his fantastic worlds with realistic personalities.
Third is Hugh Cook, a totally obscure writer of The Chronicles of an Age of Darkness series. His work is often considered fantasy, but the series takes place in a world where a futuristic pan-dimensional civilization collapsed, so I suppose science fantasy would be the best descriptor. I first read his work when I was ten and what struck me was the curious amorality of the text. The protagonists were real people, not black and white, good or evil characters. They all had positive and negative elements surrounding them. And that was a concept I have always tried to include in my writing, making sure that the characters are not blank slate “good” or “bad” guys.
And last is Larry Hama who write 150 issues of the 155 initial run of G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero. Not only did he take a series based on a toy line (the average life span of which is usually 10 issues) and turn it into one of the most popular comics of the 80s, but he managed to perfectly marry action and character development together. So no matter how many bullets are fired or vehicles blow up, you never lose sense of the personalities pulling the trigger. It is a technique that I tried to master, albeit in a different medium.
BB: Are your favorite science-fiction authors also the biggest inspirations for your writing, or do you have other or even more prominent inspirations from other genres as well?
RH: George Orwell. 1984 is the perfect book in my opinion and gives a breakdown of every human civilization that has ever existed or is likely to exist. He is able to brutality and degradation with a gut-wrenching realism. I doubt any writer looked into the depths of the human soul with as much dispassion and clarity as Orwell.
And William S. Burroughs. Reading Naked Lunch was a transcendental experience for me. He was a man who truly did not give a shit, openly a homosexual and junkie in the 1950s, and that comes across in his writing. I’ve never seen such obscenity expressed as lyrically as Burroughs could do it. He had a skill above and beyond anyone else in the 20th century.
BB: Along with Across the Wounded Galaxy, I know that you wrote a book on serial killers and are currently looking for a publishing home for that. Do you have any other projects you are working on, or have finished?
RH: My magnum opus, perhaps the most evil collection of words I have ever written is called Sunday Morning at the Peak of Hell. Basically it stars myself as the protagonist journeying through Hell. It’s taken me a while to complete it. The first draft is still being nailed out. The reason for the delay is that I only write it when I’m in a bad or vicious mood, so that I can get that extra venom in there. Most other books that use Hell as a setting wimp out and don’t make it nightmarish enough. I want my book to be
BB: Do you have any websites where people can follow you and get notifications about your publishing, or an author page anywhere?
RH: I have a Youtube channel, called Rex Hurst, and two blogs. The first Rex Hurst Speaks is mostly discussion about obscure films (usually with links to the full movies), degenerate art, various pieces of fiction, and sarcastic commentary. It is updated weekly. The second Rex Hurst Reading Blog is a running blog and review of the literature I’m reading at the moment. I’m an addicted reader and am always into a book, so it is updated when I finish a text.
BB: Thank you for doing this interview with me. Anything else you would like readers to know?
RH: I’ve just signed another book to be published later on this year. It’s called The Foot Doctor Letter: A Serial Killer Speaks Out. It is a serial killer book (if you couldn’t tell from the title) told from the killer’s perspective. And it’s based on actual serial killer cases, the Hickey Trauma Model, and the FBI’s own investigative findings. And we see the beginning of evil in him, what shapes him to become the killer.
Check out the first two podcast interviews with Rex Hurst on JEA’s Wicked Little Things!
Stay up to date with Rex Hurst by following his blog!