Talking StarCraft: Evolution With Author Timothy Zahn (Interview)

The StarCraft II journey wrapped up with last year’s Legacy of the Void expansion concluding the story that started back in 2012.  Evolution picks up a few years after the end of Void, presenting a very different take on the universe we’ve seen and played through.  

Timothy Zahn, the popular science fiction author who helped kickstart the old Star Wars Expanded Universe with Grand Admiral Thrawn, took on writing duties for the new story.  The book hits store shelves next week and fans of the franchise, and science fiction in general, are in for a treat (you’ll get my full review on Monday).  I was able to ask the renowned author a few questions about his jump into the StarCraft universe to get you ready for the new novel:

Evolution Cover1

Jordan: When did you first come into contact with the StarCraft “universe”? 

Timothy Zahn: My son was a big fan of the original computer game back in the 90s, so I occasionally watched over his shoulder as he played.

J: What did you enjoy most about the StarCraft franchise?

TZ: I really appreciate the way the various races and their weaponry have been constructed – very different, but well balanced for combat. Different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses make for interesting and challenging tactics and strategies.

J: What was the most engaging aspect of the lore for you to draw upon for this novel? 

TZ: As with the balance between tactics and weaponry, I like the fact that the relationships between the species are very different. The confusion and misunderstandings involved in the various first-contacts also ring true.

J: For the first time, readers get a good “look” at the inner workings of the Zerg, in ways even the games didn’t go into.  Was it difficult to get into the Zerg mindset for the book?  How did you go about bringing those characters/aspects to life?  

TZ: I’ve occasionally dealt with hive minds in other stories, so it wasn’t too difficult to write the zerg. However, there are a few twists in the zerg makeup that add new possibilities to the writing. Needless to say, those twists also make things more challenging for the Zerg themselves. Bringing them to life was mostly a matter of putting them in various situations and then envisioning how they would react.

J: Which of the three factions did you enjoy writing about most?  

TZ: I stayed with terrans for my point-of-view characters, mainly because those are the characters the readers will most easily identify with and understand. That naturally makes the terrans the best developed. However, I have to admit that in many ways I find the protoss the most interesting of the three species.

J: Did you feel any extra pressure in having to continue the StarCraft story after the games, or did it give you more “freedom”?  

TZ: There’s always a certain freedom in having all the background in place and not having to connect with something currently in production. I hope this is just the beginning for StarCraft novels.  It’s a fascinating universe, full of possibilities.

While it’s nothing terribly revealing (and no, I couldn’t ask any Star Wars questions), it’s still fun to talk to Zahn about his diving into another popular science fiction brand.  StarCraft: Evolution arrives next week, November 8th, and you should really go ahead and pick it up

-Jordan