This is not meant to be a slacker manifesto ("Stop trying, never fail!"). What I'm saying here is that some forms of criticism fall down in this regard. It's totally unreasonable to decide that, for example, science fiction has failed at predicting the future. Science fiction was not trying to predict the future! It was trying to tell interesting stories! I did not fail at baking a custard tart this morning -- I just didn't bake one, which is different. If you want to consider it a flaw that I didn't try in the first place, you'll have to justify that, because not everyone has to make a custard tart first thing Wednesday mornings. Hardly anyone does. But people who have decided that SF was supposed to predict the future (or become the primary reading material of the entire English-speaking world, or save us from a host of ills, or...) never see the need to justify their assumption. Anything they wanted SF to do is what SF was inherently supposed to do.
Books are written by actual people, and wishing very very hard does not make those actual people's motivations into one's ideal motivations.
I wrote Thermionic Night because it has taken me years to process the feeling of being part of the group (physicists) that came up with nuclear warfare, even though I'm no longer part of that group.
I wrote Thermionic Night because I was fascinated with the Kalevala and it's been sorely neglected in fantasy.
I wrote Thermionic Night because I hoped it could make a segment of "my kind" of people go around rubbing their heads and blinking for awhile thereafter.
I wrote Thermionic Night because I had written YA fantasy, children's SF, and adult SF, and I wanted to write adult fantasy as well, and it seemed like a better idea to work as broadly as I could to begin with, so that people would have a harder time saying, "But I thought you wrote X instead."
I wrote Thermionic Night because the things I'd been reading ran away with my brain and did funny things to it while it was gone and returned it somewhat the worse for wear.
I wrote Thermionic Night because the stupid characters wouldn't leave me alone until I did.
I wrote Thermionic Night because I hoped it would catch the eye of some editor and sell a gajillion copies and make me and the editor very happy.
I wrote Thermionic Night because it felt like melting a glacier in my head with a kitchen torch, which is an incredibly stupid thing to do unless you have a glacier in your head and the only tool you have in there is a kitchen torch, in which case you just get melting.
I wrote Thermionic Night because I had to write it in order to get to the others in the series.
I wrote Thermionic Night because the 1950s are not "Happy Days," and never a one of my characters has even considered wearing a poodle skirt. I love Buddy Holly, but they couldn't care less about him. Don't you understand there's a Cold War on?
I wrote Thermionic Night because it looked like fun.
All of these things are true. None of them refer to Why People Write Fantasy Novels or Why People Write Historical Novels or Why People Write Spy Novels or Why People Write Novels About Technology (though it is all of those things). I am not People. I am me. I wrote this book. If I am very lucky, it will sell and people will read it, and it still will not be about somebody else's theory of reasons to write fantasy novels. And if you decide that the purpose of fantasy novels is to provide biographical information about Marie of Roumania, that will not be my fault. Okay? Okay.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have another one to do.