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Interview: Eleanor Arnason on “Daisy”

Eleanor ArnasonTell us a bit about “Daisy.”

She is a Pacific Giant Octopus, the largest species of octopus currently known, who is ‘owned’ by a gangster. She vanishes from her tank and the gangster, Art Pancakes, hires the narrator to find her.

 

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

It started with joking around on Facebook. Someone came up with ‘Art Pancakes,’ and that sounded to me like a fine name for a gangster. I no longer remember how the idea for the octopus came up. I have liked cephalopods for decades. They are smart and interesting and strange. There is bookkeeping in the story because my day job was doing accounting. I have a lot of respect for bookkeeping.

 

What kind of research, if any, did you do for “Daisy?”

I wandered around the Internet, and read 4 or 5 books about octopuses. Most of what the story says about octopuses is correct, though I stretched the information a bit.

 

Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by AliensWas this story personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

The bookkeeping is personal, and I really do like cephalopods. I have a plush toy version of a Pacific Giant Octopus sitting on my couch. The creature’s name is Daisy.

 

What are you working on now?

I just finished a story about an African Giant Pouched Rat, another interesting animal. I’m currently finishing a story based on an Icelandic folktale about a seriously misguided sorcerer.  After that, I plan to move on to a story about Yu the Great, who is credited with controlling flooding on the Yellow River and establishing the first Chinese imperial dynasty, both circa 2000 BC. Beyond that, I don’t know.

 

“Daisy” appears in the March/April 2017 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1703.htm

You can subscribe to the print edition of F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

If you click on Ms. Arnason’s photo you can visit her blog.

You can purchase a copy of Ms. Arnason’s Philip K. Dick Award-nominated story collection at Amazon by clicking on the book’s cover image.

Recent Acquisitions

It’s been a few months since we posted recent acquisitions, but contracts have been sent out and accepted for this group of stories acquired in January and February that will be coming soon to the pages of F&SF:

  • “Hollywood Squid” by Oliver Buckram
  • “Tasting Notes on the Varietals of the Southern Coast” by Gwendolyn Clare
  • “The Hermit of Houston” by Samuel R. Delany
  • “We Are Born” by Dare Segun Falowo
  • “The Bride in Sea Green Velvet” by Robin Furth
  • “Stillborne” by Marc Laidlaw
  • (poem) “The Path to Peace” by Mary Soon Lee
  • “Riddle” by Lisa Mason
  • “Whatever Comes After Calcutta” by David Erik Nelson
  • “An Equation of State” by Robert Reed
  • “Starlight Express” by Michael Swanwick

The Laidlaw story is a new Gorlen Vizenfirth novella. The Delany, Furth, and Nelson stories are novelets. Clare and Furth will be making their first appearances in F&SF, and this will be Falowo’s first published story.

Interview: Robert Grossbach on “Driverless”

Bob GrossbachTell us a bit about “Driverless.”

“Driverless” refers, naturally, to driverless cars and, in this case, somewhat obliquely, to the driven central character.  Many people have pointed out the societal disruptions that loom in the near future from these vehicles, but this particular story focusses on a more chilling technological possibility.

 

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

For most of what I write, I can’t identify a particular stimulus or moment of creation.  But this story was unusual in that it had a very specific origin: an email exchange with Gordon Van Gelder sometime after the publication of a previous story (“myPhone20,” F&SF, September/October 2013).  He mentioned that one of the things he liked about that effort was its skepticism regarding technology.  He then added, “In fact, you might want to apply your talents to the driverless car.  I’m amazed no one has published a story yet about how dangerous these suckers are going to be.”

Now at the time I was struggling through the sixth draft of a sequel to a previous story, and the sudden idea of all the things that could go wrong with driverless vehicles just set my head spinning.  I imagined vast fleets of semi-autonomous, communicating, internet-connected, competing swarms of these things careening through city streets, and thought: what a wonderful recipe for disaster!  Now add to that the fact that the editor-publisher of a major SF magazine had actually suggested the topic … and I somehow managed to overcome my angst at capitulating to crass commercialism, thrust aside draft seven, and whipped out “Driverless.”

 

What kind of research, if any, did you do for “Driverless?”

As a still-sort-of-practicing electrical engineer, with a specialty in RF/microwaves and a background in electronic countermeasures components, I see various techie publications, e.g. IEEE Spectrum, Microwave Journal, IEEE Microwave Magazine, with articles on driverless vehicle technology.  All I had to do was find a few operating frequencies, a few pieces on the lidars, radars, and processors, and I was pretty much set.  Of course, like many techies, I’m caught up in Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near and How to Create a Mind, from which I also gleaned data processing information.

 

As an engineer, what do you think of the push for driverless cars, and the growing trend of automation in general?

I think it’s unstoppable, will make many people’s lives easier, and will make many others’ lives much worse.  While my story’s concentration was on the emergent properties (the techie phrase for “shit happens”) possible with multiple, widespread, communicating new devices, I do think the major disruptions will be societal.

Large numbers of jobs will be permanently lost, and many people will no longer have the skills valued by employers and will not have the wherewithal or intellect to acquire them.  So either we find a way to provide those people with food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and access to higher education – or, eventually, desperate, they’ll just take what they need by any means.  Yes, revolution, a grim picture indeed.

And even if, somehow, technology can make us sufficiently productive to fill everyone’s basic necessities, what then?  I keep thinking of Jack Williamson’s story, “With Folded Hands,” (later becoming the novel, The Humanoids), about a race of intelligent robots who came to Earth and did everything for everyone, so that no one needed to work.  Is that, then, the alternative to revolution for the permanently unemployable, to sit by with folded hands?

 

What are you working on now?

Oh, I don’t like to say what I’m working on; I subscribe to the Norman Mailer theory that when you discuss that subject (picture the cocktail-party writer, trying to impress you by talking about his novel-in-progress), it somehow drains power from the work.

 

“Driverless” appears in the March/April 2017 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1703.htm

You can subscribe to the print edition of F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Interview: Arundhati Hazra on “The Toymaker’s Daughter”

Arundhati HazraTell us a bit about “The Toymaker’s Daughter.”

The Toymaker’s Daughter is a story about a girl who has a magical talent, and about how the world behaves when it learns about her talent. It’s also a story about family and belonging, and how it nurtures a person and brings magic into his/her life.

 

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

When I lived in Bangalore, I saw a lot of handmade wooden lacquer toys being sold in handicraft emporiums and flea markets – horses and soldiers and train engines in bright colours, each toy different from the other. I started thinking about the people who made them, toymakers working out of passion for their craft, and about how the traditional crafts of India are in danger from the large corporate toy store chains. I imagined a little girl making the toys, and the story just took off from there.

 

Was “The Toymaker’s Daughter” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

I had zero artistic talent as a kid (still have none), but I made up a lot of stories about my toys, put them through crazy adventures. I also loved Panchatantra, an Indian collection of animal fables, and the stories that the girl makes up are inspired from the tales I read as a child.

 

What would you want a reader to take away from this story?

My friend read the story and said, wow, you have stories within the story! I’d want people to see and appreciate the stories in everything, be it the inanimate objects around us or the people who we pass by.

 

What are you working on now?

I have a number of short stories in various stages of completion, and am working on outlining my first novel, when I’m not struggling to prevent my day job from taking over my life.

 

“The Toymaker’s Daughter” appears in the March/April 2017 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1703.htm

You can subscribe to the print edition of F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

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