"One of the things that becomes harder
as the world goes on is to draw the lines between human and not-human,
between life and not-life. At one time in the past the lines
were perfectly plain, or seemed to be, for Western man. Can they
become invisible in the future? Fiction, and science fiction
especially, is a good tool for asking such questions, and probably
no good at all for answering them.
The berserkers know this much, at least, of life. That it must be destroyed..."
-Fred Saberhagen, intro to "Pressure" in The Book of Saberhagen,
printed by Daw in 1975
Ten Word Autobiography
"Fred Saberhagen was alive when born. He means to continue."
-Fred Saberhagen, from Saberhagen: My Best, printed by Baen Books
"To us, the Carmpan watchers, it appeared that you had
carried the crushing weight of war through all your history,
knowing that this hour would strike, when nothing less awful
-Third Historian, Berserker
"In my studies of the Earth-descended variant of the Galactic
soul, I, Third Historian of the Carmpan race, must pursue truth
through contact with minds, with perceived realities, alien to
me. And each reality, even each lie, is in itself a truth."
-Third Historian, Introduction to "The Machinery of Lies" in Berserker
"Perhaps dread lay in the fact that a war which went on
and on must, ultimately, bring forth men who were as terrible
as their enemies."
-Poul Anderson, "Deathwomb" in Berserker Base
Notes from Fred
These are some answers that Fred gave to a few questions
One question, in The Berserker Throne, I never discovered what exactly Prince
Harivarman was in exile for. Was I simply not paying attention, or is this
revealed in some other book, or is it in fact left to the reader's imagination?
(I'm supposing it's the latter, but would like to be sure.) Thanks!
I don't remember what sent the prince into exile. If the text of THRONE doesn't
give a reason, I guess I never had one.
Question [re: Shiva in Steel]:
Although I'm guessing that Shiva's fate was meant to be left a mystery (right?),
I'm still confused about one thing. The text on the dust jacket reads: "...But
will Normandy and Silver be ready to discover that something wholly unexpected
yet eerily familiar lies gnarled within the steel?" What does this
refer to? Did I miss something?
I didn't write the blurb, and I guess I didn't even read it. Don't know
what it means, but sounds intriguing.
Do you have a personal favorite among all the Berserker books/stories?
No, I don't really have a favorite among the berserkers.
Are we likely to ever see a return to some of the deeper mysteries of the
Berserker universe, mostly covered in Berserker Man and the intro to Berserker
Wars? (e.g. the Elder Races, the Carmpan, the Berserker Directors, the
Taj, the relationship between sentient life and the Galaxy, etc.)
As for the deeper mysteries, I suppose things will turn up from time to time.
What was behind your decision to use the terms "human" and "humanity" for
all intelligent life in the Galaxy?
That's one of the subtle aspects of the series that I really
As for the human life in the Galaxy my assumption has been that
regardless of physical form it will share intelligence and free
will with its Creator. I never went very far in thinking up possible
forms. Another item I never got around to was deciding how the
berserkers determine exactly what's alive and what isn't.
These are some answers and comments from Fred that
arose from a conversation I had with him in November 2003.
-Fred said that he "never had Berserkers successfully take on
human shape because if he went in that direction, everything from
on would be that question: who's a Berserker and who's not?"
[I agree completely. The whole robots-disguised as humans angle has been
done many times already and done well (e.g. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
[a.k.a. Blade Runner]). In making that limitation, Fred actually opened
up more possibilities for new stories because it forces the Berserkers to innovate.]
-In response to my questions about the more shadowy elements of
the Berserker universe like The Taj and the Elder Races, Fred said:
"I wanted to make it [The Taj] mysterious and awesome, and the
more you tell about something the less awesome it becomes, so I
left the Taj alone. If/when a story comes along when I need
an elder race, I'll bring one in. ... I life to leave lots of room." He
commented that the real universe is like that too, with as many
stars as grains of sand on a beach, "and we still don't know what's