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Interview: Gregor Hartmann on “The Unbearable Lightness of Bullets”

Tell us a bit about “The Unbearable Lightness of Bullets.”

I want to show Zephyr from different perspectives. So far I’ve used a social-climbing immigrant writer, marine biologists, a lawyer for a science agency, aristocrats and proles, a hermit theologian… Why not a police detective? Why not two while I’m at it? Since murders occur everywhere, they’ll be able to take the reader into all sorts of interesting situations.


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

Cryptocurrencies are intriguing. At the moment most of them are scams, but it’s reasonable to assume that eventually the kinks will be worked out, and that a future society like Zephyr’s would use electronic money issued by multiple entities, and the relative values would be constantly changing. So, given that basic situation, what sort of crime would occur? Predicting the exact technology is not my concern; I’m more intrigued by the human angles.


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

I have to balance in-your-face action and background world-building. I’ve worked out a lot of facts about Zephyr that I haven’t shown yet. I have to remind myself that each story is entertainment, not an entry in Wikipedia Galactica, so I must give the reader a good ride.

I love doing research. Finding female goddesses for the Pathway pantheon, for example. When I came across Ma’at I instantly knew she was going to be on the shoulder patch of a uniformed officer.


Why do you write?

Same reason I breathe, I guess.


What are you working on now?

Sadly, murders keep occurring on Zephyr, so my philosophical detective and her religious sidekick are already investigating another case.


“The Unbearable Lightness of Bullets” appears in the March/April 2019 issue of F&SF.

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