Buy F&SF • Read F&SF • Contact F&SF • Advertise In F&SF • Blog • Forum • RSS

Interview: Brian Trent on “Crash Site”

Brian TrentTell us a bit about “Crash-Site.”

“Crash-Site” is set on the planet Osiris, one of the first extra-solar worlds humanity settles in my fictional universe of stories. The fledgling colony soon learns that an ancient vessel may have crashed somewhere on their world, and that amid that wreckage a treasure trove of advanced technology is waiting to be discovered. The story is the quest for this crash-site, told from the perspectives of an array of characters caught up (sometimes willingly, sometimes unwillingly) in the chase.

Behind the scenes, “Crash-Site” is also a direct sequel to “A Thousand Deaths Through Flesh and Stone” (F&SF’s May/June 2017 issue). We see here what has become of Harris Alexander Pope, the reluctant hero from the Partisan War on Mars. Having retired to Osiris, Harris gets caught up in the search for the vessel, teaming up with another recurring character of mine: Umerah Javed of “An Incident on Ishtar.” In a way, “Crash-Site” is a sort of nexus in my “War Hero” universe of stories, bringing together multiple characters and events that have far-ranging ramifications for the development of Osiris. However, no familiarity with these other tales is necessary.

 

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

The story was built around the idea that a quest like this can mean wildly different things to different factions (and therefore to different possible directions for the future). There are cunning opportunists, grieving outcasts, self-serving exploiters, and those who are simply trying to increase survival odds. It represents a potential turning point for the colony’s future. It’s not simply about riches as in, say, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The downed vessel comes from such an advanced culture that it can potentially catapult corporations or governments to planet-spanning dominance. Into whose hands should that fall? To other characters, it’s seen as a kind of magic cave, like in the tale of Ali Baba, or even a magic lamp that might grant wishes. To still others it’s the odyssey of scientific discovery, or limitless resources on a resource-strained planet.

 

Can you tell us about any of the research you may have done for “Crash-Site?”

“Crash-Site” required steep, daily imagination exercises. That’s par for the course, but here I had lots of character heads to get into, lots of narrative shoes to walk in. Each day I’d tackle a different mosaic in the story’s construction: there’s Harris and Umerah, trying to track the grieving worldmapper who allegedly knows where the mysterious vessel is. There’s the story of that worldmapper himself, and why he’s out there in the fungal forests of Osiris. There’s a pair of corporate hunters hard on the trail. You don’t want to compose in terms of “heroes” and “villains” — because even the “villains” have their own motivations that are very real to them. Even Thanos in Avengers Infinity War doesn’t think of himself as a bad guy. At one point in “Crash-Site”, a character says to another, “I thought you people were good!” It’s up to the reader to decide that for themselves, particularly when the full cast of players is revealed. Getting into their heads is key to that.

I needed to think about what life in the Osirian colony would be like: this is a world with a single equatorial sea that creates a narrow habitable zone–prime real estate– while much of the planet is harsh hinterland. Osiris is a very unusual place by terrestrial standards. I spent a lot of time squinting at its blue supergiant sunrise, gazing at its ringed moon, thinking of the ocean and “walking” along the docks and seaside communities that developed there. This also involved a few day-trips to seaside communities here in my home state, visualizing them in frontier terms in which resources are thin. Frontier colonies are a fascinating study.

 

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

“Crash-Site” was a true pleasure to write, partly because I’m fond of ensemble stories with multiple characters. I particularly enjoy constructing plots which have disparate narrative shards coalescing. The challenge is not just keeping everything straight, but in crafting a believable, fully realized world where the local details of environment and culture are consistent. The fun is in winding everything up and letting the chase unfold.

 Ten Thousand Thunders

What are you working on now?

I recently finished final edits on my novel Ten Thousand Thunders, which is due out from Flame Tree Press this October, so now I’m hard at work on the sequel. Incidentally, Ten Thousand Thunders is the origin story of the universe in which “Crash-Site” exists, taking place some seventy years or so before the events of this story take place. And I’m also working on an alternate history series I’m very excited about.

 

 

 

“Crash-Site” appears in the May/June 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1805.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/

You can pre-order Ten Thousand Thunders by clicking on its cover image; clicking on Mr. Trent’s photo will take you to his website.

Interview: Amman Sabet on “Tender Loving Plastics”

Amman sabetTell us a bit about the story.

“Tender Loving Plastics” is about Issa, a child growing up in automated foster care with her foster siblings who cycle through the system.

 

What was the inspiration for “Tender Loving Plastics,” or what prompted you to write it?

I scribbled an early version of “Tender Loving Plastics” at the Geisel Library at UCSD. If you take the elevator to the fourth or fifth floor, wander past the books towards the windows and peer out across the campus, you might catch a glimpse of “Fallen Star”, a sculpture by Do Huh Suh.

From this angle, “Fallen Star” appears as a little blue suburban home balanced precariously on the edge of the neighboring building’s roof. To me, its smallness and vulnerability contrasts sharply with the brutalist campus architecture. This view was, at a subconscious level, the inspiration for “Tender Loving Plastics.” You have the university, which is itself a parent entity. And you have this little house, charming but unbelonging, as if someone hurled it up there. How would growing up in that house affect a kid?

 

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

There have been some adoptions in my immediate family. I’m a designer by trade, so I initially approached this as any designer would try to address a real-world issue. I assembled the setting, but then I ended up filling it with a collage of my impressions growing up.

 

What was the most difficult aspect of writing “Tender Loving Plastics” and what was the most fun?

The most difficult part was the research. It’s a story with orphans, so I tried to be sure I wasn’t doing harm in my descriptions. Learning about how foster care impacts the development of the amygdala and behavioral issues in children was heart-breaking. Mary Ainsworth’s Strange Situation study and Harry Harlowe’s Studies on Dependency in Monkeys also lent some perspective.

The fun part was drawing the story before writing it. I’m a big fan of drawing before writing anything.

 

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

Maybe just a moment to pause on all the little formative things they’ve been through.

 

What are you working on now?

I have another story, “Umbrus” out now in issue 10 of F(r)iction, which is about an anomalous space object. Then I have a few shorts which are being reviewed or polished for review, and I’m woefully neglecting a novel project that I’m supposed to have ready for a summer workshop.

Having just recently moved to Echo Park in Los Angeles, I’m also on the hunt for a good crit group in the area that meets regularly. Give me a shout @AmmanSabet if your group is looking for a new member!

 

“Tender Loving Plastics” appears in the may/June 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1805.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: Stephanie Feldman on “The Barrens”

Stephanie FeldmanTell us a bit about “The Barrens.”

“The Barrens” is about five teenagers who venture into New Jersey’s vast Pine Barrens in search of a pirate radio station and its elusive DJ. They should be more worried about what might find them first.

The piece is a twist on horror movie tropes, but it’s also about storytelling and desire, as well as the environment and folklore of the mid-Atlantic, where I grew up and still live.

 

 

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

This story started with one very specific inspiration: My Favorite’s song “Let’s Stay Alive” from the album Love at Absolute Zero, which I played quite a bit back when I was a college radio DJ. Here’s a line from the song: “On the pirate radio station, in my car with no destination, as bright and lost as the stars above, we will reinvent love! Let’s stay alive, let’s stay alive, let’s stay alive…” In my story, the pirate radio station becomes the destination and “let’s stay alive” becomes a literal imperative. The song has this shimmery, pure, desperate spirit that captures adolescence, and I wanted to write a story with that same energy.

My other goal was to take my first straight dive into horror. I grew up on horror movies and my work has always nodded to the genre—it was time to come home.


Was “The Barrens” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

It draws on my own memories of being a teenager. All the characters desperately want something: to be loved, to experience something bigger than themselves, or to simply feel alive. Like them, I also turned to music when the rest of my life felt unsatisfying.

The story reflects my adult experience, too. I moved to the suburbs a few years ago and felt a bit stuck and bored. I’ve been using my writing to rediscover greater Philadelphia—to turn it a little weird and mysterious. I’ve never been a Jersey girl, but I’ve always been Jersey-adjacent, and I loved digging in to the local legends and folklore for “The Barrens.”

 

What was the most difficult aspect of writing “The Barrens,” and what was the most fun?

Usually my process is thorny and angst-ridden, but I had so much fun writing this story. Maybe it comes back to my inspiration—the reckless energy of the music—or maybe it was imagining those kids speeding through the dark woods, both hunter and hunted. It was all adventure. (The characters would likely disagree.)

 

What are you working on now?

I’ve spent the past year putting together the anthology Who Will Speak for America?, forthcoming from Temple University Press in July, with my co-editor Nathaniel Popkin. As a writer, I find these times both urgent and challenging. It’s as important as ever to write honestly and fearlessly about who we are and what we care about. At the same time, the political chaos can be stifling. So I’m thrilled to share the voices of over 40 fiction writers, essayists, poets, and artists from across the genre spectrum, including Charlie Jane Anders, Sam J. Miller, Malka Older, and Fran Wilde, all writing on the subject of identity and the current political crisis. (Royalties go to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which fights on behalf of the most vulnerable among us.)

I have a story, “The Elites,” in Gordon Van Gelder’s recent anthology Welcome to Dystopia.

I’m also working on a novel and a few stories. Most of these projects are engaged with horror, and some of them explore Pennsylvania folklore and legend. I’m filling the suburbs with monsters.

 

“The Barrens” appears in the May/June 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1805.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/

Clicking on Ms. Feldman’s photo will take you to her website.  You can also find her online here: twitter.com/sbfeldman

Interview: Matthew Hughes on “Argent and Sable”

Tell us a bit about the story.

“Argent and Sable” continues the development of Baldemar, a poor boy who first became an assistant to a debt collector then segued into a career as a wizard’s henchman.  A mission his master sent him on brought him into contact with an interplanar entity — the Helm of Sagacity — who “altered” the young man so that he could be sent on a perilous quest that the entity had sent plenty of others on over the millennia, all of whom ended up badly.  But Baldemar succeeded, and now he is trying to discern just how different he now is, starting with exploring the quality of luck that the Helm gifted him with.

 

Matthew HughesWhat was the inspiration for “Argent and Sable,” or what prompted you to write it?

In the largest sense, I’m exploring the Dying Earth that the brilliant Jack Vance ceded to sfdom, and doing it through the development of roguish characters:  thieves, thaumaturges, and henchmen.  A lot of Baldemar’s experiences so far illustrate how magic works (and how it sometimes doesn’t).  In the next episode, “The Plot Against Fantucco’s Armor,” wizardly rivalries overlap into high-level political intrigue, which will lead Baldemar to a new kind of work.  Then, in the episode after “Fantucco,” which I’m just finishing, we move into a Dying Earth police procedural.

If I’m doing this right, the reader ought to be getting a wider picture of how a world of wizards and walled cities might work.

 

Continuing their introduction at the end of “Jewel of the Heart,” you have delved into two new fluxions from which wizards draw their powers: argent and sable.  Do you have any plans to explore these new fluxions in further Archonate stories?

Oh, yes.  Indeed, in Gardner Dozois’s anthology, The Book of Magic, coming out in October, I have a story called “The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable,” in which argent and sable fluxions are crucial to the plot.  Spoiler alert:  the title is an oxymoron, Masquelayne doesn’t have, and doesn’t deserve, any friends at all.

 

What are you working on now?

Once I’ve finished up the new Baldemar novelette, I’ll be in a wait-and-see mode.  I’ve got a new suspense novel coming out in hardcover, One More Kill, which George R.R. Martin was kind enough to blurb for me.  He said, “Fans of Lawrence Block’s Keller stories are going to love ONE MORE KILL.   I certainly did.   Matt Hughes kept me up all night, turning pages.”  I’m looking to do a deal for the North American rights which might lead to my writing a sequel.  But I’m also looking for a publisher for Ghost Dreams, about a burglar and a ghost, for which I might also do a sequel.

A couple of things I’d like readers to know:  I’ll be at WorldCon in August, ready to sign any work of mine, and I’m still hoping to attract more pledges by patrons to my Patreon account, so that I can afford to keep on writing.   Link:  https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4687520

 

“Argent and Sable” appears in the May/June 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1805.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/

In addition to Mr. Hughes’s Patreon account noted at the end of the interview, if you click on his photo, you’ll be taken to his website.

Interview: Andy Stewart on “Likho”

Andy StewartWhat was the inspiration for “Likho,” or what prompted you to write it?

When I finished writing “Wormwood Is Also A Star,” (F&SF May/June 2013) I didn’t immediately anticipate continuing with that world or any of its characters. There seemed to be a finality and a solemnness to the piece. But then I read a photo essay about the “stalkers” of Pripyat, the young men and women who, armed with dosimeters and flashlights and cans of spray paint, would trespass into the Exclusion Zone, exploring the urban ruins—that’s when ideas began to percolate. I started thinking about Pripyat, not just as a setting, but as a symbol—a ghost-town, a modern-day apocalypse, a place that has become mythological in its own right—and I wanted to explore all this in greater detail. Rereading the extraordinarily good Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers helped to remind me of the SF tradition I was working within as well. There was more to explore in this alternative world.

 

Was there any aspect of this story that you found especially difficult to write?

One of the hardest parts of writing a ‘close’ alternative history (meaning, that the alternative thread is very nearly identical to our own) is that current world events can often get in the way. I consider “Wormwood” and “Likho” to be as much political thrillers as they are sci-fantasy, both dealing with the tenuous relationship between Ukraine and Russia through the years. The Maidan Revolution in Ukraine was unfolding just as I started penning the first draft of “Likho.” I knew I wanted to write a main character who had been on the front-lines of that cause, as it embodied the ongoing fight for democracy in a world bending toward fascism. However, when Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula occurred soon after, I actually had to stop writing for a bit. Real history was beginning to catch up with my fiction. I had to be very careful not to step on the immediate, both in service of the story, but also to make sure I wasn’t trivializing a current life-and-death conflict. Thankfully, a full civil war did not erupt in Ukraine, and did not result in a Cold War-esque division of the country, like Germany, which is the political situation Sonya and Klim, the main characters of “Likho,” find themselves in. But, honestly, it remains a frightfully close reality in my mind, especially as world events continue unfolding in eerie similarity to the Cold War era.

In response to finding inspiration, history is absolutely directly related to current events, and inspiration has to come from both. The impetus for political action and reaction today have to be traced way back to the old national wounds, and the old victories. I guess that’s a major theme with the characters in “Likho” as well. There’s a continuum, whether that be political, emotional, or in mythology and legend.

 

You’ve now written two novellas in this world do you think you’ll have more stories to tell here, or perhaps work these stories into a novel?

I’ve actually written a third section in this sequence that features Mitka’s estranged daughter, Rossi, in a near-future Ukraine on the brink of peace after being divided along East/West political ideologies for years. I’ve interwoven these narratives to create a novel manuscript I’m calling Black Tin. It fits in that “fix up” tradition we sometimes find in the SF market, something like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Icehenge, or Gene Wolfe’s The Fifth Head of Cerberus, but I think it also works as a traditional generational narrative as well. I’m hoping to find a home for it soon.

 

“Likho” appears in the March/April 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1803.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/

Clicking on Andy Stewart’s photo will take you to his website: http://www.mr-andy.com/

« Previous PageNext Page »

Copyright © 2006–2018 The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction • All Rights Reserved Worldwide
Powered by WordPress • Theme based on Whitespace theme by Brian Gardner
If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to sitemaster@fandsf.com.

Designed by Rodger Turner and Hosted by:
SF Site spot art