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Interview: L.X. Beckett on “Freezing Rain, a Chance of Falling”

Tell us a bit about “Freezing Rain, A Chance of Falling.”

My first novella is a story about a journalist who ends up on the wrong side of a futuristic online shame spiral. Drow Whiting tries to expose a popular songwriter as a plagiarist. Her response makes the Internet—now called the Sensorium—turn on him… and when you stop bringing in the equivalent of Facebook likes, you can’t get paying work. Drow becomes desperate to regain his popularity, and this makes him vulnerable to the machinations of a rich octogenarian performance artist.


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

I’d been trying for some time to write a story where a reporter engages in a mean-spirited expose, and finds themselves in trouble with the online community, but the story didn’t really come together for me until I came up with the pop-up chemo clinics and climate-changed extremes in the weather. Once Drow was not only flailing financially and socially but literally slogging through the worst a Toronto winter could possibly have to offer, it all seemed to snap together.

I grew up in the Prairies with pretty dramatic winters, but only just returned to the land of ice and snow a few years ago. Getting used to blizzard conditions again was an experience that shaped the story.


What was the most difficult aspect of writing this story, and what was the most fun?

Showing the gig economy at its most voracious, in a world where most young people are madly juggling multiple marginal jobs just to ensure solvency while their privacy is eroding ever more rapidly, was a bit of a dance. With intense world building comes a great temptation to infodump; I wanted to be sure the story stayed entertaining.

Something that’s fun in “Freezing Rain” is playing with a future culture of fandom mash-ups. Drow’s parents met in Batman fandom and that cultural heritage lingers on within his relationship with Crane.


Can you tell us about any of the research you may have done for “Freezing Rain, A Chance of Falling?”

Lots of the research just came of being online a lot and watching the ebb and flow of Internet shame culture, but I’ve also looked into carbon fixing strategies, climate change adaptations, and some economic theories about what the world might become as we move further into a cashless economy.


Was this story personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

I hope all stories are personal to their authors! But, specifically, I am furious about the injustices created by poverty, and the way our richest citizens are trying to entrench us in a system where they hold all the cards—to preserve a class of ultra-rich, white, rapacious oligarchs—is something I take very personally.


Who do you consider to be your influences?

There are so many brilliant authors, lovely giants of SF with long careers, who’ve given me infinite riches with their books, stories and essays! But lately I am trying to be influenced by our newest stars, energetic and innovative writers people breaking new ground on racism, gender issues, and sexual politics. Kai Ashante Wilson, Amal el-Mohtar, Pria Sharma, K.M.Szpara, Lara Elena Donnelly, and Sarah Pinsker have all been especially inspiring lately.


What are you working on now?

I have a novel called Gamechanger, set in the same world as this novella, but fifty years later—and a much older Drow is in it, as is Crane! It’ll be out from Tor next year.


“Freezing Rain, A Chance of Falling” appears in the July/August 2018 issue of F&SF.

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