Interview with William Latham on Eternity Unbound
by Simon Morris
Q: What exactly is The Balor Saga?
A: It’s kind of a self-contained trilogy, almost like the Godfather Series for Balor from “End of Eternity.” It’s got a new novelization of “End of Eternity” in the middle. It has an altered version of “Resurrection” at the end. And it’s got a brand new novella at the beginning that tells you all about Balor’s rise and fall on Progron.
Q: Why continue the story of Balor?
A: He’s a fun character to play with, first of all. The big thing is when I was putting together the flashback sections in “Resurrection” I really waited until fairly late in the game to write them, even though I had a sense of what they were going to be. Finally, I convinced Mateo that it made sense to at least try looking into Balor’s past a little, and those flashbacks were just way more intense than I think we’d been expecting them to be. There was more of a story there than just the little glimpses we got in “Resurrection”. Back-story, I mean. So, add that to the fact that the E. C. Tubb novelization of “End of Eternity” was very short, and could stand to be lengthened, one thing led to another and we realized that a new book was shaping itself. Since it was going to have all of the details of Balor’s back-story, the flashbacks in “Resurrection” didn’t make sense to still have in “Resurrection” so even that book started to change.
Q: Would you say that “Resurrection” is very different or just a little bit different?
A: Nothing’s been removed from “Resurrection” really. Things have just been moved, and changed from a remembered version of an event to a portrayal of the actual event more in real time. If anybody really likes the wording of the flashbacks in “Resurrection” they should hold onto their copy. There are things that have been added to “Resurrection” however.
Q: Was this something you wanted to do or something Mateo wanted to do?
A: I don’t know if I even remember. I do remember one really nice thing he said to me on the phone. He was interested in seeing the novella from me because I’d never really written any science fiction about a whole new culture or anything like that, and he was curious to see what I might do with it.
Q: What should readers expect from The Balor Saga?
A: If I were looking at this book as a film, I’d say the “Resurrection” portion is like a director’s cut, the novelization of “End of Eternity” is kind of like me going back to make “Red Dragon” and the prequel part, that’s where the most interesting stuff really awaits. But if I’ve done my job right, the three stories link together into one cohesive whole. The first story has elements of “Frankenstein” in it, I suppose, but not really as many as you’d think. There’s something of a love story in there, believe it or not. I think by the end of The Balor Saga, we’ll know why Balor acts the way he acts, or at least we’ll see the evolution of his particular brand of evil. I think that, without giving too much away, you’ll see that Balor and Helena Russell are mirror images of each other over the course of the book. The formula for immortality is both created and neutralized for the same basic reason.
Q: How did you go about putting together the novella?
A: One aspect of it was certainly going through “End of Eternity” and “Resurrection” and identifying the plot strands that could be pulled together and given their beginnings in a new story. And Balor implied that the character of Talian had been along for the ride for much of his rise and fall on Progron, so obviously, Talian’s got a pivotal role in the prequel. What was a challenge here is that I really needed to get into Balor’s head this time around. In “End of Eternity” Johnny Byrne presented him in a certain way, and I wasn’t going to change any of that, and Balor in “Resurrection” is just an extrapolation of Johnny’s version of him. Stepping back, I had to take Balor in “End of Eternity”, subtract the influence of a thousand years of isolation from him, and then figure out who he was. So he needed flavors of who he is in the later stories, but he obviously couldn’t be the same guy. Then, I needed to map out a beginning, a middle, and an end for the novella, that basically shows Balor coming to power and then losing it so he can be exiled. There’s a little bit of Napoleon in Balor’s story, I suppose. A little bit of Hitler. But I think if you look at “End of Eternity” that Balor’s adversary is Koenig, and in “Resurrection” it’s Helena Russell. “Resurrection” already hinted that Balor was reenacting elements of his relationship with Talian in his battles with Koenig. In the novella, we’re going to see the relationship that Balor is reenacting when he’s facing Helena Russell.
Q: Was it fun going back into the Space:1999 universe?
A: Yeah. The novella was the most fun, and that’s really got nothing much at all to do with Space:1999. Playing with the fabric of “Resurrection” was fun, too. I had to be careful not to upset the balance of a carefully constructed book.
Q: What’s next for you in Space:1999?
A: Let’s just say that Mr. Latosa and yours truly have been mapping out what I’ll call the mother of all Space:1999 stories. It’s got elements from multiple Space:1999 stories, including Powys Media’s stories. I think the best way to describe it is with “Resurrection” I was very cautious. The next book, it’s not cautious at all. The Balor Saga was really just to get my juices flowing for the next project.