Interview with SUYI DAVIES OKUNGBOWA

OkungbowaSD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Suyi Davies Okungbowa?

I was born and raised in Benin City, Nigeria to parents in academia, so reading and stories have always been a big part of my life. Benin’s an ancient city, see, dates back to the 11th century, so there isn’t much going on there. I experienced most of the world through books (and cable TV, haha). I had my primary, secondary and tertiary education within the same walls of the University of Benin. Since then, I’ve moved around a bit, working in engineering, professional services, marketing and communications and digital learning. Currently, I’m an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where I also teach writing to freshmen and sophomores.

Your debut novel, David Mogo, Godhunter, is due to be published in July by Abaddon. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Well, I initially pitched the book to David [Moore] as American Gods-meets-The Dresden Files, set in Lagos. Since then, I’ve heard it called everything from Constantine-meets-Black Panther to a godpocalyptic thriller. To a potential reader, I’d say if you took a demigod’s identity crisis, mixed it with a failing, overcrowded city’s god infestation, and set a wizard’s fire under it, what you get is David Mogo, Godhunter. It features Yoruba orisha mythology, but also draws on myths and legends from other Nigerian ethnicities like the Edo pantheon (where I’m from) as well as the Urhobo and Igbo. Continue reading

Quick Review: WALKING TO ALDEBARAN by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

Tchaikovsky-WalkingToAldebaranAn intriguing, weird sci-fi story

My name is Gary Rendell. I’m an astronaut. When they asked me as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “astronaut, please!” I dreamed astronaut, I worked astronaut, I studied astronaut.

I got lucky; when a probe sent out to explore the Oort Cloud found a strange alien rock and an international team of scientists was put together to go and look at it, I made the draw.

I got even luckier. When disaster hit and our team was split up, scattered through the endless cold tunnels, I somehow survived.

Now I’m lost, and alone, and scared, and there’s something horrible in here.

Lucky me.

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Walking to Aldebaran is the story of an astronaut lost and alone on an alien artefact. The story is filled with strange goings-on, weird environments and features an engaging, yet unreliable narrator. It’s weird, interesting and amusing. I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Interview with the Gumshoe” by Graham Edwards

EdwardsG-AuthorPicI knew I shouldn’t have gone to that bar. There I was, sitting on a stool staring down a shot of Southern Comfort, when in he walked – a weary-looking gumshoe wearing a crumpled fedora and tattered leather coat.

I knew him at once, and why wouldn’t I? He was the hero of my new novel, String City, large as life and looking mad as hell. What follows is a transcript of our conversation. I’ve called it an interview, but really it wasn’t.

It was an interrogation.

GUMSHOE: What in the name of Hades do you think you’re playing at?

GRAHAM EDWARDS: I’m sorry?

GUMSHOE: (pulling a copy of String City from his coat pocket) You think this is funny? Continue reading

Quick Review: IRONCLADS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

TchaikovskyA-IroncladsAn interesting new SF war novella with a twist

Scions have no limits

Scions do not die

And Scions do not disappear

Sergeant Ted Regan has a problem. A son of one of the great corporate families, a Scion, has gone missing at the front. He should have been protected by his Ironclad – the lethal battle suits that make the Scions masters of war – but something has gone catastrophically wrong.

Now Regan and his men, ill-equipped and demoralised, must go behind enemy lines, find the missing Scion, and uncover how his suit failed. Is there a new Ironcladkiller out there? And how are common soldiers lacking the protection afforded the rich supposed to survive the battlefield of tomorrow?

A new book from Adrian Tchaikovsky is always something to be cheered. Ironclads is something a little different — although, given Tchaikovsky’s growing body of varied work, this is perhaps something that we can now expect? Ironclads is an interesting re-imagining of the world: corporations have come to dominate the new world, but supernatural elements of the old world are pushing back. A squad of American soldiers are thrown into a special mission, and everything they thought they knew about the war turns out to have been wrong… Continue reading

Interview with GUY ADAMS

AdamsG-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Guy Adams?

There are creatures at the depths of Earth’s oceans that exist alone in the darkness. If they stray too close to the light they explode, their bodies having developed in this isolated, salty world. Instead, they float, thoughts adrift in whatever imaginations they possess. Subsisting on whatever floats their way.

Guy Adams is like that, only with more cats.

I’ve written around forty books, which is, obviously, utterly absurd. They include The Clown Service series from Del Rey UK, Deadbeat from Titan and The Heaven’s Gate trilogy from Solaris. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Culture As Weapon” by Yoon Ha Lee

When I conceived of the Andan faction of the hexarchate, I saw them as beautiful, rich, and cultured. In particular, I saw them as the people who weaponize culture. Raven Stratagem depicts a major Andan character for the first time, and while she’s somewhat atypical (she went into special ops against her mother’s wishes), she hasn’t entirely escaped her early training.

Years ago, when I was in college, I borrowed some of my boyfriend’s Robotech tie-in novels. I went online (as one does) and looked up more information on Robotech on the internet, and found an interesting essay that questioned the novels’ portrayal of singer Lynn Minmei and her songs as a cultural weapon. I’m sorry I can’t link you to the essay; cursory Googling has failed to turn it up and, as it’s been something like fifteen years, I have no idea if it’s even still on the web. Continue reading

Interview with TITUS CHALK

ChalkT-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Titus Chalk?

A literary chancer with a new book out! Otherwise, a typical Berlin implant; a Brit taking advantage of the city’s cheap rent to work a bit less and write a bit more. I’ve recently left a decade or so of sports writing behind me to spend time in the library learning to write fiction – that’s currently what I am hoping to with my life, having taken Generation Decks from initial idea to a bookshelf near you soon.

Your new book, Generation Decks, will be published by Solaris. It looks interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

It’s the story of the world-changing fantasy game Magic: The Gathering and a memoir of my time playing it. But more than that, it’s a look at the way business, culture and community changed with the advent of the internet age. It tries to capture that transition in the early 90s where everything was turned on its head as more and more people plugged in their dial-up modems and logged on to this strange thing called the web. Although Generation Decks is ostensibly about a very complex and rich strategy game, it’s absolutely not a specialist book – it’s for non-gamers and gamers alike. And for anyone with an interest in the way pop culture evolved in the digital age. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Everything is Exhausting…” by Cassandra Khaw

KhawC-AuthorPicGetting off my butt to run is hard: I don’t like running. I’ve just eaten. I am going to get cramps. I have something else to do. It is far too late to run. I can always do it tomorrow. I’m tired.

Putting my shoes on run is hard: I know what is going to follow. It is too hot. It is too early. It is possibly unsafe to be on the streets. It is embarrassing to lumber within the sight of the neighbours. I am not unfit. I could do this tomorrow. I’m tired.

Staggering through those first five minutes of a run is hard: I don’t deserve to be in optimal condition. I have failed myself. There is no point to this literal exercise. What’s the use? I’m only going to get sidelined by something else again. I’m worthless. I should give up. I’m tired.

Everything is exhausting lately. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Living Larger with Animism” by Arianne “Tex” Thompson

ThompsonAT-AuthorPicYou know, one of the coolest things about SFF is how it invites us to mothball our skepticism and explore just about any metaphysical concept. Avatar Aang lives in a world where reincarnation is inarguably real. So does Rand Al-Thor. Just so, Narnia is a world with a concrete moral order, and the Marvel universe is absolutely lousy with gods. Fate, karma, magic, ghosts – you name it; we’ve got a franchise for it.

But here’s one big idea that I’d like to see getting more air-time: animism. It’s one of the oldest belief systems in the world, and put simply, it’s the idea that non-human creatures and things have souls, and therefore should be treated with awareness. In sci-fi and fantasy, animism usually comes to the fore whenever a creator wants to craft a culture that’s all about living in harmony with nature – your wood-elves, blue cat-people, et al. The problem is usually that they are so dang harmonious that they would never be worth writing about if they didn’t get bulldozed by the plot. (Literally, if we’re talking Ferngully and its like.) Continue reading

Interview with STEVE RASNIC TEM

steverasnictemLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Steve Rasnic Tem?

Writer, father, grandfather (but not in that order), dabbler in art and photography, ex-puppeteer, ex-magician, ex-ventriloquist, ex-animator (maybe).

Your new novel, Ubo, will be published by Solaris in February. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

Ubo is a meditation on violence using a story which is a mix of both science fiction and horror. Daniel is trapped in Ubo. He has no idea how long he has been imprisoned there by the aliens who resemble giant cicadae or roaches. Every resident has a similar memory of the journey there: a dream of dry, chitinous wings crossing the moon, the gigantic insects dropping swiftly over the houses of the neighborhood, passing through walls and windows as if by magic, or by some unknown technological means, “like a deck of baroquely ornamented cards, fanning themselves from one hidden world into the next.”

The residents of Ubo are forced to take trips into the past where they must live inside the heads of some of history’s most violent figures: Jack the Ripper, Charles Whitman, Stalin, Himmler, Gilles de Rais, and others. Continue reading