Theodore Sturgeon, who would have turned 97 today, was one of the all-time great science fiction writers. And he came up with a great maxim that defines much of what SF authors do to make their work extraordinary: "Ask the next question." Some current authors explain how this maxim shapes everything they do.

Advertisement

Here's how Sturgeon explained what he meant by that:

"This guy is sitting in a cave and he says, 'Why can't man fly?' Well, that's the question. The answer may not help him, but the question now has been asked. The next question is what? How? And so all through the ages, people have been trying to find out the answer to that question. We've found the answer, and we do fly. This is true of every accomplishment, whether it's technology or literature, poetry, political systems or anything else. That's it. Ask the next question. And the one after that."

Over at Open Road Media, authors including James Morrow and Timothy Zahn explain how "asking the next question" has helped them find strange new ideas to write about.