Unexpected Questions with Frank Wu

Frank Wu has been publishing science fiction and fantasy artwork since around 1998. He’s won four Hugo Awards for his art, which has appeared in Amazing Stories, Realms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, Fantastic Stories and various other magazines. More recently, Frank has been focusing on writing, including five short stories and two novellas in Analog magazine.

He is also a biotech patent agent and had a small role in developing vaccines and tests for COVID-19.


What Pre-1960s SF television show or movie would you like to see get a big-budget remake, and why?

I would LOVE to do a remake of “I Married a Monster from Outer Space” (1958). Not because the movie (in which an alien impersonates a newly-married man) is so interesting, but the making of it was.

My movie would be meta:

The lead actor, Tom Tryon, was a gay man in a time and place (1950’s Hollywood) where you had to be deeply-closeted to make a career. Thus my movie would be about: A gay man pretending to be a straight man playing an alien pretending to be a straight man. Meta!

If you could time travel to any point in history, which era would you choose, and why?

It would be useful to go back to 1958 to talk to Mr. Tryon and see his movie being made. But also…

It would be super-cool to hopscotch through time, seeing great works before they were lost to the sands of time:

The Philocles play that the ancient Greeks thought better than Oedipus Rex, da Vinci’s mural “The Battle of Anghiari”, the destroyed sculptures of Boccioni, the original spider scene from the 1933 “King Kong,” and lost silent movies like “London After Midnight” and Theda Bara’s “Cleopatra.”

But you know where I’d most like to go?

Columbus, Ohio, 1964.

No, not to watch the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, but to stop John Glenn from clumsily hurting himself in a stupid accident. At the time Glenn had just retired from NASA. He was world-famous, a decorated Marine pilot, the first American to orbit the Earth, the man who saved the U.S. space program after a near-disastrous mission wherein the second Mercury capsule sank into the ocean and Gus Grissom almost drowned. But now Glenn was too old to go to the Moon, so he retired from NASA and immediately entered Ohio’s Senate race.

This is the Jonbur point: Not long after, he slipped while adjusting a mirror in a hotel bathroom, hit his head, and damaged his hearing so badly that he had to drop out of the race. He was eventually elected to the Senate, but not until 1976, but by then Johnmentum was gone. But if one were to warn him and help him get elected … and then hop over to 1968…

That year was chaotic. Viet Nam was raging, the LBJ — apparently sick of people chanting, “Hey hey LBJ, How many kids did you kill today?” — wasn’t running for re-election. Bobby Kennedy would likely get the nom, but was assassinated after winning California. It eventually fell on Hubert Humphrey. But… here is the second Jonbur point. At the time, Humphrey had noticed blood in his urine, not realizing this was a sign of the cancer that would later kill him. Had he known then, he wouldn’t have run. Had he known. And if Glenn had gotten himself elected Senator in 1964, he could have run for President…

 and beaten Nixon.


No Watergate, and the View Nam War ends earlier.

Also, Glenn, the former astronaut, would not have ended the crewed space program after Apollo.

Maybe we would have celebrated the bicentennial in 1976… on a moonbase.

And we’d be having this conversation on the Moon.

The moon is admittedly pretty cool, but… What’s the most wondrous place on Earth you’ve ever been?

Meteora in Greece. There you have these beautiful monasteries, some set atop basalt pillars rising hundreds of feet in the air. The only place in Greece never overrun by the Turks. To get to one monastery, you have to get in a basket and they winch you up.

In one of the monasteries there were really low doorways. Was this because people were shorter then? A monk told me, no. It was to make you bow before God. He pointed out a carving of a peacock, its tail feathers folded back in humility. I asked him his name. He said he had no name. But he hoped to earn the name of Lazarus — the man that Jesus had brought back from the dead. Earlier, this nameless man had been living a bad life, but then he was in a fire — but he did not burn — and after God showed him mercy, he dedicated himself to God’s work. Jesus had brought him back to life, too.

If you could have any of your works made into a movie, what would it be?

Because I’m an artist, a lot of my writing has cinematic images.

Time-Travelling Dinosaurs Playing Guitar is pretty self-explanatory.

As is Guidolon, the Giant Space Chicken.

My recent novella, “Poison”, in the May-June 2023 Analog, co-written with Jay Werkheiser, is about a war with centipedes.  So… you have mech suits, asteroid impacts, fighting against robots in caves, armored personnel carriers and attack ships, weird science, a human dreadnought hard-linked to a centipede ship (made out of a giant centipede) – like two convicted killers on the run, hand-cuffed together. That’d be a pretty cool movie.

But my novel, written with Tom Easton, coming out from Amazing Selects (the book imprint of Amazing Stories) is killer:

ESPionage: Regime Change.

Get this: Russians are trying to assassinate leaders all around the world, installing politicos they can control. All in preparation for a new war — with lessons learned in Ukraine — that will set them on a path for global domination. On the other side, we have psychics working for the CIA, trying to foil their plans. We got micro-drones with poison darts, cars exploding, people bursting flames, and guns hidden inside cameras! We got secret codes, mind-reading, telepyrosis, and messages from the past and future! We even have a guy who fights like a rock musician — attacking bad guys by windmilling his arm like Pete Townshend and scissor-kicking like Eddie Van Halen!

That would make a helluva movie!

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