6 GREAT CHATS WITH SF AUTHORS

Ian McEwan recently announced his new novel MACHINES LIKE ME is set in a world with advanced technology, but it’s not Science Fiction. He told the Guardian: ‘There could be an opening of a mental space for novelists to explore this future, not in terms of travelling at 10 times the speed of light in anti-gravity boots, but in actually looking at the human dilemmas of being close up to something that you know to be artificial but which thinks like you. If a machine seems like a human or you can’t tell the difference, then you’d jolly well better start thinking about whether it has responsibilities and rights and all the rest.’

In alighting upon the oldest and most well-trodden Science Fiction trope of all-time – what makes us human? what stays the same when something changes? – and claiming it as sovereign territory, he’s rightly been pilloried as a bit of presumptuous, condescending, out-of-touch pillock, regurgitating beige literary pabulum for the cautious palate of ageing middle England.

But who’s writing great SF right now? That’s actually had a modicum of thought put into it? My friend, I have you covered. Here are six interviews I conducted with fantastic, engaged, conscientious and daring SF authors on my podcast for writers and readers, Death Of 1000 Cuts. Dive in and find your new must-reads:

In this episode I chat to author Tade Thompson about creating worlds, unsympathetic protagonists and the ‘killable other’.

Tade Thompson is the author of ROSEWATER, a near-future SF novel set in Nigeria. We have a great conversation about the roots of his writing in the visual medium of comics, why we’re driven to create for ourselves, the uncomfortable truths that lie within us and the art of making the deeply weird feel real.


In this episode I chat to author Emma Newman about her SF series PLANETFALL, and her latest novel in that series, ATLAS ALONE. We talk corporate overreach, the intersection of science and faith, and exploring mental health challenges such as anxiety and post-natal depression as part of fully-rounded characters.


This episode I chat to debut author Temi Oh about her novel DO YOU DREAM OF TERRA-TWO? We talk immersive research, handling big casts, giving characters motivation, and handling big, sophisticated themes in novels of ideas.


In this episode I chat to BSFA-award-winning author Gareth L Powell about writing sentient spaceships, nonhuman protagonists, and being nice on the internet. We get into his new novel, EMBERS OF WAR, and he shares his best writing tips for novice authors.


In this episode I chat to novelist Claire North (aka Catherine Webb) about her amazing career spanning 20 (!) novels so far, starting when she was just 14. We chat about genre, growing up geeky, dystopias, craft, and changing the world – and her latest novel, 84K, set in a frighteningly familiar corporate near-future where everything – including murder – has a price and ad support.

This episode’s chat is with author Chris McCrudden, talking Greek myth, the perils of satire, his winding road to publication, finding time to write and why writing tips bring him out in hives. We discuss his comedy SF novel BATTLESTAR SUBURBIA and its bracing mix of humour and barbed political comedy. He also drops some serious data about the top 100 bestselling books in the UK last year, breaking them down by author and genre to reveal what books are on the up, and those which remain perilously tricky to sell.


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