He's now a renowned author in his own right, but Michael Stackpole built a career out of co-opting characters and settings from other sci-fi works. In 1987, he began writing novels set in the BattleTech universe, and then he wrote several novels in the Star Wars universe for Bantam Books. Many of them landed Stackpole on bestseller lists, so when he struck out with his own original works, sci-fi fans already were familiar with Stackpole's fantastical (and sometimes controversial) style. For example, his original series DragonCrown War Cycle includes firearms in a fantasy world, something considered taboo by many fans of the genre. He has served as executive director of Phoenix Skeptics since 1988 and continues to write. Stackpole's latest series is the fantasy trilogy "The Age of Discovery."