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Interview: Alex Irvine on “The Legend of Wolfgang Robotkiller”

Tell us a bit about “The Legend of Wolfgang Robotkiller.”

Giant robots of unknown origin have devastated cities all over the world, killing people by the millions and hunting them through the rubble. From that cheery premise, we follow a group of survivors as they scavenge in the ruins and tell each other stories about the mythical Wolfgang Robotkiller, who supposedly roams the US destroying robots. He gives the survivors hope…but is he real?

 

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

I was working from the cover art, which I’ve done a few times before for F&SF (“Shambhala” and “Number Nine Moon”). It’s always fun to have a visual prompt like that, and in this case, I mean, who can’t get creative with an image of rampaging giant robots?

The story really coalesced around Wolfgang Robotkiller’s name, which has its own history. My friend (and excellent illustrator) Thom Davidsohn coined it as an in-utero nickname for my third child, and when it popped into my head while I was looking at the cover art one day, the whole story fell right into place.

 

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

Other than Wolfgang’s name, what’s personal about the story to me is the questions it raises about why we need to believe things that aren’t true. Choosing belief in a myth or legend is comforting. It gives us hope. Sometimes it takes a dark turn into fanaticism. I consider myself a pretty rational person, but I also know I believe some things that may not be true because they make me feel better. Is it always better to know the truth? The near-universal love of tall tales would suggest otherwise.

 

What aspect of “The Legend of Wolfgang Robotkiller” was the most fun to write?

Inventing stories of Wolfgang’s exploits for the characters to tell each other. Those were a fun and hopeful contrast to the brutal reality the characters in the story are forced to live. We all need to indulge flights of fancy once in a while, and that’s what the main character in the story decides to protect at the end.

 

What are you working on now?

Still writing various games, including Marvel Battle Lines and The Walking Dead: Road to Survival. I’ve got novellas coming out next year in F&SF and from Tor.com. Working on a new novel, several stories, a few developing TV and film projects, getting my two oldest kids off to college…I’m staying busy.

 

“The Legend of Wolfgang Robotkiller” appears in the July/August 2019 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1907.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/B004ZFZ4O

Visit Alex Irvine’s website: https://alex-irvine.com/

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