You are currently viewing CROOKED V.2 Author Spotlight: Patrick Swenson

CROOKED V.2 Author Spotlight: Patrick Swenson

We’re celebrating the launch of CROOKED V.2 by spotlighting the authors who have contributed stories!

Patrick’s first novel, The Ultra Thin Man, appeared from Tor Books. The sequel, The Ultra Big Sleep, debuted soon after. The third Ultra novel will be out next year. His novel Rain Music was published recently. He was the editor and publisher of Talebones, which began in 1995 and ended with its 39th issue in 2009. In 2000, he began Fairwood Press, a book line, which is still running. He has sold short fiction to the anthologies Unbound II, Unfettered III, Seasons Between Us, Gunfight at Europa Station, Like Water for Quarks, and also to a number of magazines. He has been a high school teacher for 37 years and is the proud poppa of Artemis, an artist and budding designer. Patrick lives in Bonney Lake, Washington.

Patrick’s piece, “The Silent Passage,” takes place in the Union of Worlds universe. A third novel in the story arc comes out next year. See for more information.


Tell us a bit about your story and the story world.

Dave Crowell, hero of the alien Ultra invasions of the previous years, sends his partner on a routine retrieval job to the planet Temonus, but he goes missing, and the job turns into a race against an alien faction that wants their settlements reinstated by the colony’s government. They sabotage and shut down the transportation tether to all the worlds of the Union, and threaten to destroy it.

What was the inspiration behind this story?

The partner who goes missing is one of two alien species in the Union of Worlds, though he has a shady past, and humans generally distrust Helks, who are giant in size compared to humans. I started the story by having the main character’s alien partner plead for help and admit he’s scared, knowing there isn’t a helluva lot that would scare a Helk. The actual job he is on is related to events from the second book of the Union of Worlds series, but is never revealed specifically in the story itself. That all comes to a head in the third book.

If you could travel to any science fictional world, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d have to go to Caladan, from Dune, home of House Atreides. It’s described as a temperate place, and in that future, that’d be cool. And hey, a good arts scene and a place to get more writing done!

What are some of your favorite sci-fi crime books or stories?

For old school, I fondly remember The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. I’d add The Last Policeman by Ben Winters, Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem, The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, and the first Expanse book by James S.A. Corey, Leviathan Wakes, which is the most crime- and detective-oriented book of the series. Not all Martha Wells Murderbot books lean that way, but the last one, Fugitive Telemetry, definitely does.

What authors have inspired your writing?

It would be impossible, I think, to list them all. I read a mega-ton of SF in college. My goal was to read as many, if not all, the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novels. (I pretty much did it, minus a few here and there, for the Hugos.) It was a time I was very receptive to the genre, though one author goes as far back as junior high, and that was Frank Herbert, and more specifically, Dune. I ended up reading the five sequels in college. I read a lot more Herbert in college, too. Besides Herbert, I’d add Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. LeGuin, and William Gibson. The mystery authors would be Robert B. Parker (yay Spenser!), Michael Connelly, Elmore Leonard, and, more recently, Jo Nesbo. In fantasy, Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster series and Joan D. Vinge’s The Snow Queen also pushed my writing buttons.

What are you working on next?

I’m doing edits on the third Union of Worlds novel, The Ultra Long Goodbye, and since I have the rights back to the first book from Tor, I’m going to spruce it up, as well as book two, and re-release them with new art, and follow with the third, all for next year. I think there will be other, shorter Union of Worlds novels with my main character down the road, but what I want to do next is a fantasy mystery set in the world of my story “Hawkeye,” previously published in Unfettered III.



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