What do you think authors should be writing about?
First, letís define art. If literature and film exist to reflect our present life, then whatís the point of reading or watching it? Present reality is pretty distasteful. So are we supposed to come home after a long day at work and be forced to watch the same day on TV, with some extra special effects thrown in? It can be educational Ė and certainly, we canít fix our problems until we know what they are. But if this is all that people get, it can be pretty depressing. After a while, people simply stop trying to change things for the better.

This is why I think authors should use their talent towards some sort of advancement of optimism, towards a positive end, towards exploring ideas beyond the drudgery of everyday life. Words like spirituality, soul and love have gotten stale and meaningless. But the ideals behind these words are real, no matter how twisted their meaning has become. Art must uphold ideals, not neutralize them. Thatís why I always say that writers have to be very careful with their subject matter.

Then you donít see any value in horror films, if everything around us is already pretty horrible?
Unfortunately, the amount of intelligence on the planet is constant, while population keeps growing. A lot of people donít want to think about the future, and they tend to breed at a higher rate than those people who are reaching for some sort of higher ideal. Good literature depends on the existence of the latter. Bad literature caters to the former.

What about Dostoyevsky with his insane characters doing awful things?
Dostoyevsky wasnít trying to get a rise out of his readers Ė he was trying to make them think about the fate of each character. At times Iím sure his books have caused people to avoid making the mistakes that he was describing. Even Raskolnikov grows over the course of the book; heís not just a murderer and a cast-off. You feel for him, because he has cut himself off from spirituality and now heís suffering.

In effect, you are saying that art without a positive message has no purpose. If you could, would you censor or prohibit such works?
Prohibition never works. As soon as you prohibit something, people want it even more Ė so prohibition does the exact opposite of what was intended. But I do think there should be some sort of selection process, at least in the decisions we as parents make regarding what our children and grandchildren read. If we want to raise an ethical, healthy generation of kids, we have to be careful about what they read. What books do we hand to them, and when? In other words, censorship should be educational, not prohibitive.

Unfortunately, the country has no educational system to speak of. Right now, 13-year-olds are required to read Boccaccioís Decameron. What do you think the kids will be discussing: the artistry of the work, the history on which itís based, or the particularly rowdy scenes from the book? My granddaughter is 13 right now, and sheís reading the book for school. Meanwhile, I give her the books I used to read at her age, the books my parents used to read.

Does she read your books?
We try to give her a few science fiction books among other literature, so that she develops love for all types of books. I think people whoíve never read science fiction are missing out on some great experiences. Though kids tend to gravitate more towards fantasyÖ

Fantasy is the dead end of science fiction. Each new fantasy author considers himself an expert in magic and sword play. This is a very old genre, and unfortunately, itís all been said by the masters. I would advice budding fantasy writers to come up with their own ideas instead of writing yet another book with same old characters going through same old plotlines.

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