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Interview: “Last One Out” by K.B. Rylander

Tell us a bit about “Last One Out.”

The title is based on “last one out, hit the lights.”  It’s about the last woman on Earth and her robot companion.  There’s an AI-run infrastructure that just keeps going even after the people are gone because that’s what the robots are programmed to do. They keep producing food. They keep mining and polluting to serve humans who aren’t there. At the same time there’s Ella who had dedicated her life toward her children and teaching, but now they’re all gone. What is she leaving the world and does it even matter?


What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

Years ago I asked my husband for a writing prompt and he said, “Write about Filip and Ella at a summer house on the island of Gotland.” The story I pictured was a romance I didn’t want to write so Filip quickly became a computer. I’m a discovery writer and just started writing based on that. Ella became an old woman which worked well with me because the world needs more stories about interesting older women. After writing a draft of the first scene I put it aside for years, but couldn’t quit thinking about it. When I finally sat down to finish it, the story practically wrote itself.

Ella was inspired partly by my great grandmother, but is also a bit my father, who is a musician who tried his hardest to share his love of music with me.


What is your connection to Sweden, and why did you decide to set an end-of-the-world story there?

I’ve got family in Sweden and have spent a lot of time there. My husband and I plan to move there eventually. It’s a gorgeous and interesting place and yet there’s not a lot of fiction set there. In this case the setting came before the story idea, but it lent itself well to this end-of-the-world story. It starts on the island of Gotland and ends in Stockholm, which itself is built on fourteen islands. The Stockholm archipelago has 24,000 islands. Water is everywhere in Sweden, which is about perfect for a story about isolation.


“Last One Out” appears in the July/August 2016 issue of F&SF.

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One Response to “Interview: “Last One Out” by K.B. Rylander”

  1. Last One Out by K. B. Rylander | Fill Your Bookshelf on August 28th, 2017

    […] comes from: According to an interview with the author, it refers to the phrase, “Last one out, turn the lights off.” Ella was the last one […]

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