terça-feira, 21 de dezembro de 2010

Thinking timetravel: Interview with Andy Sawyer

Andy Sawyer is the librarian of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection at the University of Liverpool Library, and Course Director of the MA in Science Fiction Studies. He also teaches a science fiction module on the undergraduate course.

He has published on children’s/young adult SF, John Wyndham, Telepathy, Babylon 5, “Reverse-Time narratives” and Terry Pratchett. He co-edited the collection Speaking Science Fiction (Liverpool University Press, 2000).

He is also is Reviews Editor of Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction and Associate Editor of the Encyclopedia of Themes in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Greenwood Press).

Now he is here with us for his very first interview to Latin America about the primordial subject of his SF classes: timetravel.


Eduardo Torres & Octavio Aragão: It seems that nowadays only three types of people discuss seriously - and professionally! - time travel: relativistic physicists, science fiction writers and philosophers. Do you exchange opinions? If so, could you cite influences in one way of thinking (philosophers who were influenced by SF writers) or another (the opposite: SF writers who made their homework based in philosophy papers)?

Andy Sawyer: It would be interesting if we did! I think it does happen informally. Of course, some science fiction writers are physicists anyway (Gregory Benford, for example, and I guess the science fiction writer half of him liaises pretty well with the physicist side!) And here in Liverpool our Professor of Philosophy Stephen Clark has a big interest in science fiction, particularly that of Olaf Stapledon -- who was himself a philosopher. What I'm interested in is the way all three groups -- sf writers, scientists and philosophers -- use "thought experiments" for slightly different ends. You *have* to use science fiction (or science fiction-like techniques) to move ahead in these fields.

ET&OA: Your Time Travel course seems to deal with many temporal paradoxes, including the most famous of all, the so called Grandfather Paradox. How do you and your students discuss (explain?) it in your course? Do your students split in different 'explanation groups'? Is there a 'right explanation' for this paradox in your course? If so, you base your assertive in which authors?

AS: I don't teach this aspect of the course -- I'm a literature rather than a philosophy specialist. It's taught in different ways, and I don't think the idea is to define an "explanation" which is right or wrong -- more the different ways in which different stories might illustrate examples of the idea. One thing I do when teaching HG Wells is to consider his model of time in The Time Machine and look at the way Stephen Baxter has incorporated more contemporary ideas of time based upon quantum theory which seems to contradict any question of returning to the same timestream that you left.

ET&OA: In your course you distinguish Object Loops, Information Loops and Causal Loops as distinct phenomena. Most authors, however, consider the two first as special cases of the third. Could you briefly explain the essential differences among these temporal paradoxes in your opinion?

AS: I'll probably get into philosophical complexity beyond my depth if I try this. I think there's a distinction between a causal loop and an information loop (where I remember something that I have gone back in time and told my younger self) , although once you get within the loop such distinctions become very shaky.

ET&OA: If time travel is possible, do you think (logically and philosophically) that past can be changed or is unalterable? Why? How you discuss free will in your course in the second case? Which examples do you use to give?

AS: Personally I am agnostic on any of these. Free will can be an illusion – if we look at some of Stapledon's "possible" universes in Star Maker we get some bizarre possibilities. "Quantum" interpretations get us out of the paradox neatly by assuming that *whatever* decision we can make in some probable universe we *do* make it, but I'm not very happy about asserting the *truth* of it. I'm not about to throw myself off a cliff simply because in some other probable timestream I *haven't* thrown myself off. Within the Time and Consciousness course "free will" tends to be discussed as part of ideas about the "self" or virtual reality – e.g. Greg Egan's Quarantine 5- You also talk about different views on the nature of time: Presentism, Eternalism, Growing Block and Truthmaking. Could you explain in short these concepts? Well, again these are not concepts I specifically use in my own teaching.

ET&OA: You said you don't intend to discuss the aesthetics and/ or quality of time travel stories in class. Do you discuss science fiction time travel literature at all in your course? Why or why not? If so, which novels or short stories are part of your bibliography?

AS: Actually I do discuss matters of aesthetics and quality because these are areas I'm interested in: how the concepts become literary creations. The "Time and Consciousness" module looks at a number of texts: What is Personal Identity? Robert Heinlein’s All You Zombies. Can the Past be Changed? Orson Scott Card’s Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus; Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time. How Many Histories are Real? Stephen Baxter’s The Time Ships; Greg Benford’s Timescape; Diana Wynne Jones’ Witch Week. How Long Have We Got? Stephen Baxter’s Time; Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men.

Are Time Travel courses usually found in contemporary Philosophy graduation programs in United States? If you are the very first, how was the acceptance of the course initially?

AS: We were the first postgraduate taught course in science fiction in the UK. It was well received, although some of the students from a non-philosophy background apparently found the philosophical concepts difficult to deal with at times. I do know of other course which use sf to illuminate philosophy -- there's a guy at Brown University in the USA called Brian Weatherson who does this.

Thank you very much, Mr Sawyer and best wishes!


Andy Sawyer Science Fiction Librarian Special Collections and Archives University of Liverpool Library PO Box 123, Liverpool L69 3DA, UK.

Course Director, MA in Science Fiction Studies.

Reviews Editor: Foundation - The International Review of Science Fiction

The Science Fiction Foundation Collection.

The Science Fiction Foundation.

CFP: A Commonwealth of Science Fiction, Liverpool Foresight Centre Liverpool, UK. (Thursday 5 to Sunday 8 August 2004). Details here.

sábado, 11 de dezembro de 2010

Para Tudo Se Acabar Na Quarta-Feira: layout de capa

Guido Matheus Renhe arremessa uma colega de trabalho enquanto sua gangue espreita na quarta capa.

Agora é reta final.

sexta-feira, 10 de dezembro de 2010

Researching Heroes: Interview with Jess Nevins

He wrote HEROES AND MONSTERS, a very detailed book, a real companion to the LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN comics, the steampunk book by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil. According to Moore, he is “that psycho American guy who probably just drifts eerily in a flotation tank all day with a reference library wired directly into his brain-stem”. But Jess Nevins is not a newcomer to the fields of comics research... his sites about pulp fiction and Victorian literature are great reference sources for all the amateurs literary researchers.

Octavio AragãoHi, Jess! I'm late, I know. I'm very sorry, but my son was born last November 13 and I was suddenly drown in a sea of diapers!

Jess Nevins – I think that's a good reason for being late with the questions. :-) Congratulations!

OAThank you! I also had time to read your book and think about the questions. If it is fine with you, let's go with our five questions!

Your book HEROES AND MONSTERS is an amazing body of work through all the XIX Century (and early XX) genre literature, not to tell about the heavy info that you collected in your other sites, Fantastic Victoriana – and Pulp & Adventure Heroes of the Pre-War Years – . How is your research process? You still visit libraries?

JN – Thanks for the kind words! I do visit some libraries, but mostly I get the relevant books sent to me via Interlibrary Loan and read them myself. Some books and magazines I can't borrow, of course, so when that happens I do go to the libraries to do the reading. This spring I'm going to the British Library in London for two weeks to do research; the British Library is the only holder of many books that I want to read, so I have to go there to do the research.

OAI believe that the kind of passionate work you do is a valuable source of info to a lot of researchers of the pulp fiction around the world, but why and where did you had the idea to begin with this herculean project?

JN – All of my websites and books began with the same idea: they were things I wanted to read. But no one had written a guide to League, and no one had written a guide to characters from 19th century literature, and no one had written a guide to characters from the pulps, so I decided to write them myself.

OAYou are a great fan of the works of Philip José Farmer - notably the Wold Newton series, where he organize the literary pulp as a coherent universe - and Kim Newman, author of the ANNO DRACULA series. Don't you feel tempted to write a similar research to these books as you did to the comics by Alan Moore, Mark Waid and Alex Ross?

JN – I do, but other people have already written them. At this point I try to avoid duplicating other people's work. It's partly an ego thing and partly a time-saver on my part.

OAAnd what about your own literary projects? Any ideas for a novel or even a short story? Have you ever written a script for comics?

JN – I've written several scripts, but the American comics industry is dying a slow and ugly death and the chances of me getting something published by them is slim. I do have ideas for a number of short stories, and several movie scripts, and I will write them, eventually, but for the next 3-4 years I'm going to be busy writing non-fiction books. I'd rather be writing fiction, but the non-fiction books are guaranteed money, so I'll write them first.

OAWith the success of HEROES AND MONSTERS, you'll be considered for sure one of the next "mass media" researchers of the millennium. Any plans for a new issue of HEROES focusing the second volume of LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN or a new updated version of the same book?

JN – Yep! The working title is A BLAZING WORLD, and it should be out next summer. (We're not planning to update HEROES & MONSTERS, though). A BLAZING WORLD won't have any essays in it--the book is long enough as it is--but it will have interviews with Moore and O'Neill, and of course all the annotations, rewritten and expanded, to the second League miniseries.

All best,

The early LoEG research by Jess Nevins can be found here.

sexta-feira, 26 de novembro de 2010

Philip K. Dick: Mundo de Papel - depoimento de Lúcio Manfredi

Minha descoberta de Philip K. Dick tem uma história e uma pré-história.
Desde pequeno, a minha relação com o mundo sempre foi marcada por uma certa ambivalência. A realidade não me parecia ter realidade suficiente. Eu sentia que, a qualquer momento, o mundo poderia fugir sob os meus pés e eu mesmo me parecia tão irreal ou semi-real quanto esse mundo cuja evanescência me perturbava muito antes que eu soubesse o que quer dizer "evanescência".

Entre os três e os nove anos, essa sensação de falta de solidez nas coisas fazia com que todas as noites eu tivesse pesadelos horríveis, dos quais acordava gritando sem parar, e até os doze anos, eu era simplesmente incapaz de me lembrar do meu próprio rosto. Precisava olhar no espelho sempre que quisesse saber como eu era. Muitos anos mais tarde, vim a saber que os psicólogos denominam esse estado de espírito de ‘desrealização’ ou ‘despersonalização’, mas prefiro a designação muito mais poética de Julio Cortázar: "o sentimento de não estar de todo".

Não é de Cortázar, porém, que eu quero falar, mas de Philip K. Dick.

Eu tinha 12 anos quando chegou aos cinemas a versão original de Blade Runner. Nunca tinha ouvido falar de Ridley Scott e não fazia a menor idéia de quem era Philip K. Dick. Mas já era apaixonado por ficção científica, o que, para mim, nessa época, significava antes de mais nada Asimov e Clarke.

O spot do filme que passava na tevê me deixou galvanizado, especialmente aquela imagem clássica do aerocarro subindo nos céus de uma Los Angeles chuvosa e em trevas permanentes. Corri para o jornal para ver os horários e sessões, e meu entusiasmo foi recebido com a proverbial ducha de água fria.

Blade Runner era proibido para menors de dezoito anos (ou era dezesseis? A memória já vai ficando para trás, junto com os milhares de neurônios que a gente começa a perder diariamente após os trinta). Dois anos mais tarde, isso não teria sido um problema: eu já teria descoberto que sempre é possível driblar a censura e entrar num filme proibido, especialmente nos cinemas do centro. Mas ainda não sabia disso quando Blade Runner estreou e o filme adquiriu para mim uma espécie de aura mítica, um paraíso proibido, fora do alcance dos meus olhos mortais.

Pouco tempo depois, ao passar por uma banquinha de livros nas imediações de Perdizes (ou era em Pinheiros? a memória, etc.), dei de cara com o romance que tinha dado origem ao filme: O Caçador de Andróides, de Philip K. Dick, com aquela capa horrenda que a Francisco Alves costumava colocar em seus livros. A capa não importava. Era a história do filme, o filme ao qual eu não podia assistir. Comprei o livro e comecei a ler no metrô mesmo, a caminho de casa. Não, não foi uma revelação. Os céus não se abriram, os mortos não saíram de suas tumbas e eu não tive nenhuma epifania. Sim, era uma história fascinante, suficientemente próxima da ficção científica à qual estava acostumado para eu gostar do que estava lendo e, ao mesmo tempo, diferente o bastante do que eu conhecia para me animar a buscar outros livros do autor. Mas não foi um livro que mudou a minha vida.

A revelação e a epifania, no entanto, vieram com o livro seguinte de Dick que me caiu nas mãos: Os Três Estigmas de Palmer Eldritch, na edição de bolso das Publicações Europa-América. Já nem me lembro onde foi que o comprei. Minhas recordações desse livro têm início com o instante exato em que abri a primeira página e comecei a ler. Estava de novo no metrô, voltando de onde quer que eu o tenha adquirido. Reconheci imediatamente o estilo do autor, a maneira peculiarmente irônica com que Dick construía suas frases, a forma como ele invertia os lugares-comuns, como, por exemplo, ao mostrar pessoas que procuravam os psiquiatras, não para se curar, mas para ficarem doentes. Era divertido, era atraente, dava vontade de continuar lendo, mas não muito mais que isso. Até chegar ao terceiro capítulo, quando os colonos ingerem uma droga e entram no mundo de Perky Pat. Um arrepio de unheimlich me subiu pela espinha. Eu conhecia aquela sensação. Aumentei o ritmo da leitura. Barney Mayerson e depois Leo Bulero presos no mundo de Palmer Eldritch, aquele mundo alucinatório que você *sabe* que não é real e do qual, mesmo assim, não consegue escapar. A figura aterrorizante de Palmer Eldritch, tão semelhante aos fantasmas que povoavam meus próprios pesadelos de infância. Sim, eu conhecia aquele mundo. Era o meu mundo.

Daí para a frente, tratei de procurar e ler com voracidade tudo o que conseguia encontrar desse autor. Fui descobrindo coisas sobre ele, a experiência mística de 2-3-74, seus surtos esquizofrênicos e ataques de paranóia, a faculdade de filosofia interrompida (como eu mesmo faria alguns anos mais tarde), sua morte em 1982, no mesmo ano em que eu tentara em vão assistir Blade Runner... Foi graças a Philip K. Dick que eu tomei contato com o gnosticismo, uma forma de filosofia religiosa que, mais do que qualquer outra, resume a minha atitude perante o mundo. Dick também me levou a Jung, outra influência determinante no curso da minha vida. E, evidentemente, marcou a minha maneira de escrever. Certa vez, um amigo que conhecia todos os meus contos e estava lendo O Homem do Castelo Alto comentou que agora entendia porque eu gostava tanto dos livros de Philip K. Dick: existiam semelhanças notáveis (palavras dele) na maneira de nós dois vermos o mundo. Ainda considero o melhor elogio que já recebi como escritor...

Para muitos leitores, o primeiro encontro com seu autor favorito é um evento que muda o curso de suas vidas. Para mim, depois de descobrir Philip K. Dick, a realidade continuou sendo exatamente como era antes - incerta, evanescente e nada confiável. Mas, agora, eu sabia que não estava sozinho.


Lúcio Manfredi é roteirista da Rede Globo e autor do romance mashup Dom Casmurro e Os Alienígenas (Leya, 2010)

segunda-feira, 4 de outubro de 2010

Tá, muito azar, sei...

Oi, pessoal

É um assunto meio nada a ver, mas não tive como deixar de postar isso aqui. Afinal, o seguro morreu de velho.

Meu nome é Bruna e tenho dezesseis anos. Gosto de trocar mensagens, conhecer pessoas pela Internet e adorei seu blog. Por isso, escolhi você para ser meu novo amigo. Eu acredito que vamos nos dar muito bem.
E para isso acontecer, poste esse email no seu blog. Torça para ter sete comentários, ou então você terá MUITO azar.
Se não postar? Vai ser muito pior. Mas você não faria isso.
Você não recusaria o pedido de uma morta, né?”

Vocês devem estar achando que eu sou muito bobo ou que estou pregando uma peça em vocês. Depois de ver o vídeo abaixo, vão entender porque eu tive que fazer isso.
E por favor, COMENTEM!


domingo, 19 de setembro de 2010

IV Semana de Quadrinhos UFRJ

O evento Semana de Quadrinhos é uma realização da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, através da Escola de Belas Artes (EBA) e da Escola de Comunicação (ECO), em parceria com o SESC-Rio, pela filial de Madureira. O evento possui dois objetivos: o primeiro é mostrar as Histórias em Quadrinhos (HQs) que, além de entretenimento, pode ser usado como uma ferramenta de comunicação, educação e linguagem artística. O segundo motivo é homenagear Angelo Agostini, quando rememoramos 100 anos do seu falecimento. Agostini foi um importante artista italiano que veio para o Brasil na adolescência e se tornou um dos percussores dos quadrinhos mundiais.

O evento contará com palestras de profissionais da área, oficinas ministradas por artistas renomados e contará com stands de revistas em quadrinhos independentes e fanzines. Em paralelo às oficinas, haverá uma mesa redonda de bate-papo, para trocar idéias sobre tudo relacionado a HQ.

No último dia do evento, cujo debate é justamente sobre Agostini, haverá uma homenagem a Athos Eichler Cardoso, maior especialista no assunto.

Vale lembrar que o evento tem entrada franca, inclusive para as oficinas, palestras e bate-papos.

Sigam o twitter, o blog ou a comunidade para se manterem atualizados, pois além das informações já liberadas, novidades podem surgir.

A programação completa, endereços e informações sobre como chegar podem ser encontrados aqui.

O evento conta ainda com facebook e flickr.

Vale a pena conferir o blog e a programação. Este ano também haverá transmissão ao vivo pela internet com a X4 ids, para que o povo de fora do estado possa acompanhar o evento. Em breve estarão sendo disponibilizados os links.

O evento acontecerá em 3 pontos diferentes: Fundão (Reitoria/EBA), Madureira (SESC) e Botafogo (Campus Praia Vermelha).

O público carioca de quadrinhos merece um evento como esse!

sábado, 18 de setembro de 2010

Magic aliens: Interview with Kerry Orchard

Kerry Orchard is a Canadian writer whose speciality is a new genre called “Science Fantasy”: novels which blends a competent mix of magic, science and lots of action. With growing recognition – mostly because of the samples of her texts in her official site kerryorchard.com – she is one of a new breed of authors that are gaining a place in the editorial industry thanks to the Internet.


Octavio Aragão – Hi, Kerry, good to have you here! Would you like to introduce yourself to our Intempol readers? How many books have you written till now?

Kerry Orchard – I am a fantasy author (well, more “Science Fantasy"). I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My works are The Thoughtmaster's Conduit and The Augur's Voice. I am currently working on The Timekeeper's Breath.

OA – So you like to call yourself a "Science Fantasy" writer. Why is it so? Why not just a "Fantasy" or "Science Fiction" writer? And which are your favorite authors inside the genre?

KO – I say “science fantasy” because I like to use a bit of science in my books, about aliens or timetravel. I also like my magic to be planned and explained. The book I am currently working on is a paranormal science fantasy where the world has gone from magic to mostly science.

My favorite fantasy works are Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings, Stephen R. Donaldson's Unbeliever series, Weis and Hickman’s Death Gate Cycle series, The Time Machine, by Wells. Some of these are personal favorites for sentimental reasons but none the less are my favorites... I like a broad spectrum of works. I try not read much fantasy now because I am writing and you can get ideas from others.

OA – You're from Canada and, before you, the only woman I know who lived in Canada (but wasn't actually born there) and wrote something like Science Fiction, gaining international recognition, was Ayn Rand, back in the 30's. How is to write Science Fantasy in a field dominated by men and living outside the USA? Any institutional prizes or recognition from the "powers that be"?

KO – Hmmm... being with a smallish publisher, I don't expect to gain international recognition. The only award I have entered for was the Eppie, and Thoughtmaster was a finalist for best fantasy. I've thought a lot about this as I have been invited and encouraged by major publishers with all the works I have submitted, but they are rarely taking on new authors and mainly push those they feel would sell for them. IT is difficult to get ahead and get acceptance in the literary world, and crossing and mixing genres makes it even more difficult.

I write what I write what I write and I am proud and pleased of my accomplishments. I don't expect to be rich. I don't expect to be the next J. K. Rowlings and am not sure I want to be. I hope that my books will be more readily available in physical bookstores in the future but am not sure of the future of such places, with the advance of the Internet. For now, I am content. I feel pleased and blessed to have made it this far and to have overcome some of the difficulties in my life to continue.

OA – How is the Internet working for your books? Are you gaining any profit from the sales made by the sites or it is just a "window" to show your books?

KO – Any book from any new author with any publisher from Penguin down, does not make much money... or very rarely. There is a site that actually lists what the average payout to authors is and you would be surprised at how small it is and how small the advances are becoming from major publishers. I am doing ok. I think the Internet is a great resource for people. A great way to buy books and shop and to really see what's out there. Most bookstores only carry a small percentage of the books for sale worldwide. They are bound by distributors and distributors choices as are Internet sellers, but it's a little easier for them to get and show new works from new authors.

Places such as Fictionwise e-books are doing very, very well. E-books are nice in the sense that they are cheap and can be sent right to your computer. If you like the book a lot and it comes out in print, such as mine, you can always order the hard copy later. If you hate the book you are not out a lot. It's not a career you can choose if making a lot of money is your goal. Most writer's remain mid list at best...you do it for the love.

OA – And what about the future? Any other books or related projects in the horizon?

KO – Yes, a few novellas for my publisher and The Timekeeper's Breath. It is still in early stages but is a time travel paranormal type story. I don't like to talk too much about a plot early on in my writing but will try:

The Timekeeper is a guardian. The guardians are mostly killed by the ruler of the humans who turns out to be joined in body and soul with the Lord of the Elements, who wants many things from his new human form, including the Timekeeper's lover. The Timekeeper can see and communicate with ghosts who are trapped and used as slaves by LOE.

LOE is one of the few left possessing magic now that the guardians are gone and all must turn to science or a mix of science and magic. In order to end the destruction the timekeeper must go back in time and retrieve the Timekeeper eternal (he is the physical)... ah it's a little hard to explain. Time is an ongoing study at the center for magic and science, and they have created a new device that combines the two, though no one has tried it.

I won't go into the breath part and why it is so important... have to have some secrets.

OA – Thank you, Kerry. If you want to add something more, please feel free to do it!

KO – I hope that people will continue to try new authors and new ways of reading. You'd be amazed at the talent out there.

Kerry Orchard
Fantasy Author of The Augur's Voice & The Thoughtmaster's Conduit
New Concepts Publishing.. ebook&print

terça-feira, 22 de junho de 2010

Remember The Future: Interview with Marcus Rowland

To structure a series of alternate futures for humanity is not an easy task. But our new guest not just built several possibilities but also thought a way to invite you to live this adventures.

With his project Forgotten Futures, every single person in the world can foresse and even pass some time in worlds based in the literary works by Rudyard Kipling or Arthur Connan Doyle.

Now Marcus Rowland talks about this project, the transformations of today’s Science Fiction and even about the health of the game industry.


Carlos Orsi Martinho – As fascinating as the Forgotten Futures sourcebooks are, the fiction collections that go with them – all those airships, Carnacki, weird science vintage tales. How did you first met them?

Marcus Rowland – My first contact was via my father - he was an omnivorous reader and his library included a set of Kipling, some Wells, and some other scientific romances, plus novels and short story collections by later authors including Gerald Kersh. I read them in my teens, then almost forgot about them for about twenty years.

Many years later I was involved in an SF discussion group, run as an evening class, which met once a week for several years. This had several instructors, including the critic and author John Clute, SF historian Brian Stableford, and author Colin Greenland. By then I was involved in gaming and was writing for Space 1889 and Call of Cthulhu, both of which borrowed ideas from this genre. I decided to get back to the original source material and re-read it, and Colin Greenland and Brian Stableford, in particular, were very helpful in pointing me at useful material.

Eventually I decided that I wanted to write my own game, and scientific romances seemed the best source of ideas. I'm not sure I really expected to keep doing it for so many years, but I'm enjoying it and over the years I've raised quite a bit of money for charity. I also began to collect Victorian and Edwardian magazines - I think I own about 80-100 volumes now - and I find the whole period fascinating. The game will never make me rich, and I'm not sure it's even paying for the time and money I invest in it, but it's fun, and leads me to read a lot of interesting material that I might otherwise never have seen.

COM – Your sourcebooks do an excelent job at dismantling the Victorian/Edwardian trappings of the tales they are based on: every convention, cliché and device is exposed and converted into some kind of rule or piece of advice for the gamer. Did you never think of putting it all togheter yourself a posteriori, perhaps composing your own post-modern scientific romance?

MR – I've often thought about it, and may one day try to do something along these lines. But plenty of other people have been there already, and if I start writing fiction again I'd want to be sure that what I was writing was worth reading.

COM – How do you see the changing of science fiction through history? Did the dealing with the scientific romance devices give you any particular insight or opinion about the historical trends and the present state os sf?

MR – This is a difficult question to answer. I'm sometimes worried that a lot of recent material seems to be rehashing old ideas, especially military SF etc.; there seems to be very little worthwhile experimental work being published. Part of this may be that a lot of material is being published on line, but a lot of it is down to the contraction of the publishing industry; I think that they're running scared and afraid to try anything really new. Small presses and self-publication may help a little, but they run into problems with distribution and publicity which means that worthwhile books may be going unnoticed. Apart from that I'm really no expert.

Octavio Aragão – Do you foresee any possible new direction to SF in the future? Would the games industry give any kind of help to save the low sales or it will just transform the SF industry in something more, different?

MR – I think that the pro RPG industry is slowly dying. The average age of players is getting higher, and more and more products are chasing fewer buyers. In the long run I think it's going to be entirely a marginal "industry" with most material only going out on line as PDFs etc. There will probably be exceptions, people still prefer to read printed books, but whether enough people want to read any one game book to make printing it profitable has become a VERY big gamble.

OA – Hollywood finnally discovered Steampunk and Dieselpunk, producing movies more or less successfull like Skycaptain or the new Sherlock Holmes’ franchise. How would a movie based in Forgotten Futures would look like? What’s your favorite scenario and who would you like to be involved in this project?

MR – There was a small chance of this happening, a few years ago. There was some discussion of a Carnacki The Ghost Finder TV series. There are only a few Carnacki stories, and they would need several more to make a series. While they were discussing it one of the people involved, who is a role-player, suggested basing one of the scripts on my adventure Sussex Belle (in FF II), and possibly one of the other adventures, though which one was never decided. In the end the series wasn't made, but for a while it looked possible. Apart from that, the adventures which I think would work well cinematically are:

The Ganymedan Menace (FF II)
The Fist of God (FF III)
Escape from Shangri-La (FF III)
Sussex Belle (FF IV)
The Wages of Sin (FF VI)

For a younger audience maybe
Free Nessie (FF III)
Too Many Dragons (FF VIII)
The Clockwork Heart (FF VIII)

OA and COM – Thank you very much, Mr Rowland.

domingo, 6 de junho de 2010

Journeyman: Interview with Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster is famous for his original Science Fiction novels, series and movie scripts, including Star Trek and Star Wars’s tie-ins and novelizations.

He was once in Brazil, back in 2000, when we had the luck to watch and hear him talking about his experiences as a pro writer and as an amateur explorer (Alan is a compulsive jorneyman and had travelled to the four corners of the planet).

Now he’s with us to a small interview, answering to five questions raised by our staff (thanks to Luiz Felipe Vasques, Eduardo Torres and Carlos Orsi Martinho), talking about the earlier days of his career, his gigs for Hollywood and how other cultures could inspire his writings.


Octavio Aragão – Hello, Alan. Please, talk a little about your career as professional writer, your literary influences (inside and outside the SF&F field) and the books that were a real pleasure to write.

Alan Dean Foster – I was born in New York City, 1946, but was raised in Los Angeles. After receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema from UCLA (1968, l969), I spent two years as a copywriter for a small advertising and public relations firm, in California.

My writing career began when publisher August Derleth bought a long Lovecraftian letter I wrote in 1968 and published it as a short story in Derleth's bi-annual magazine, The Arkham Collector. Sales of short fiction to other magazines followed. My first attempt at a novel, The Tar-Aiym Krang, was published by Ballantine Books, in 1972. It incorporates a number of suggestions from John W. Campbell, the editor who published the first works of great writers like Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.

Since then, my short fiction has appeared in all the major SF magazines, as well as in original anthologies and several "Best of the Year" compendiums. Six collections of my short form work have been published.

My work to date includes excursions into hard science-fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western.. As to literary influences, the three primary ones were Herman Melville, Eric Frank Russell (British SF writer), and Carl Barks, the creator of the best Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic books. From Barks I got the ability to deal realistically with older characters, and also a portion of my desire to travel and see the world.

Carlos Orsi Martinho – You write lots of media fiction, and you keep a few ongoing series of your own. Besides the obvious question of how those experiences compare, and feel, to you, did do you ever considered a media project about one of your own series? A movie, comic book version or TV serial, perhaps? And, how would you feel if another writer would come to write a novelization of a movie based upon one of your universes? Would you try to talk to the guy? Give him advice? Or just keep away...?

ADF – Every writer prefers writing their own material to working with that originated by others. I'm no exception. As to a media project based on my own work, I did have one story (OUR LADY OF THE MACHINE) done on the SF Channel in the U.S., as the opening episode of a series called WELCOME TO PARADOX. Unfortunately, the series lasted only one season, and the adaptation was not what it could have been.

I have a number of books under option for development as motion pictures. All it takes is lots of money.

As to someone writing in my universes, I have no objection to fan writing. But professionally, unless a writer is desperate for money, I think it's best to keep control over your own work. The one exception I made is for a series of games (not video) that are based on the Commonwealth.

Eduardo Torres e Luiz Felipe Vasques – How do you feel in writing the book version of RIDDICK before the release of the film? How will you deal with possible changes of script during film-making? And what should we expect from the Humanx Space project?

ADF – I can't speak to the Humanx Space project, but as to RIDDICK, I always write the book version before the release of the film. That was true of STAR WARS, the ALIEN films, and every other novelization I have done. As to changes of script while I am writing the book, I do my best to incorporate any such changes while I am writing... when and where possible, and provided, of course, that the studio supplies me with the details of such changes.

Octavio Aragão e Eduardo Torres – Different from the vast majority of the SF writers, you travel a lot all over the world, including "wild places" like Brazil. How does it contribute to your novels and scripting gigs? There was any particular situation that you witnessed in those voyages that was later translated into books or movie scripts?

ADF – I don't understand how writers can write about other cultures and places without wanting to experience them for themselves. All I ever wanted to do was see as much of the universe (in this case, restricted to one planet) as I possibly could. I am still trying to do so. I just returned from Kiribati, and will be in Venezuela, Guyana, and Trinidad in January (Señor Chavez permitting).

Not only do my travels provide me with ideas and characters to incorporate into stories, I often am inspired to write an entire book by a visit to a particular country. INTO THE OUT OF comes from time I spent in Tanzania and Kenya. CACHALOT derives from the summer I lived in French Polynesia. CATALYST was inspired by my visit to Peru. And I owe the idea behind my most recently published novel, DROWNING WORLD, to the political situation I saw in Fiji and the ecology of Mamiraua...in that little, out-of-the-way, South America country they call Brazil.

Octavio Aragão – There’s an increasing interest in France for the SF&F produced in South America and in other languages, such as Portuguese and Spanish. This is producing a growing trade of information, data and publications among authors and scholars all around the world, with Portuguese and Brazilian writers publishing in European SF anthologies and vice-versa. How do you see the chances of the non-anglophone Science Fiction and Fantasy in a market that was, till now, mostly North-American?

ADF – It's a development that is long, long overdue. SF is a world literature not only in the sense that it is written and read everywhere, but that SF readers have a connection readers of other fiction do not. You do not need to explain what a star drive is to a reader in Russia, or Australia, or China. Or robotics, or cryogenics. All SF readers have the same basic reading foundation for the genre.

American publishers have a disagreeable bias against SF from elsewhere, although this may slowly (very slowly) be changing. A Japanese author recently sold the U.S. rights to three of his SF books. The Indian government published an anthology of SF by Indian writers that I am trying to get published in the U.S. The other problem is, of course, economics. Translation work costs money. It will be a very SF solution when translation software allows for faster and easier translation work of SF stories.

Now you must excuse me. My wife and I are going to a concert tonight. DIO and IRON MAIDEN. Very soothing.

domingo, 25 de abril de 2010

Steampunk em Paris: Entrevista com Pedro Mota

Pedro Mota é um historiador português que atualmente reside na França.

Graças a seus projetos editoriais e admiração pela Ficção Científica – especialmente o subgênero chamado “História Alternativa” – vem promovendo um intercâmbio bastante salutar e inédito entre autores de língua portuguesa e de origem francesa.

Octavio Aragão
Olá, Pedro! Obrigado por aceitar ceder esta entrevista. Vamos, então, àquela apresentação básica:
Qual seu nome completo, idade, profissão e trabalhos mais importantes no gênero da FC até agora?

Pedro Mota – Olá, Octavio. Me chamo Pedro Jorge Ferreira Mota, nasci en Lisboa, em dezembro 1969, e fui para a França aos 4 anos de idade, uns dias antes do 25 de Abril, 1974. Desde então, moro em Estrasburgo, na Alsacia, uma bela região francesa, mas que fica demasiado longe do elemento essencial para os portugas: o Oceano!

Tenho 33 anos e sou fà de FC desde que comecei a ler. A principio, com os quadrinhos da Marvel (mas não os da DC !!) e, depois, com livros. Quando tinha uns 13/14 anos de idade, comecei a ler romances: minhas primeiras descobertas foram com Robert Silverberg, Poul Anderson, H. G. Wells, George Orwell, Júlio Verne, Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke. Nessa altura também li muitos romances policiais entre os quais Agatha Christie.

Depois houve um periodo em que tive que pôr de lado as minhas leituras de lazer para dedicar-me aos estudos, mas sempre continuei com um olho sobre a FC durante esse período, que durou uns dez anos.

Foi nessa altura mais ou menos que me apaixonei por um gênero em particular: as Historias Alternativas. Depois de terminar o meu curso de historia, tive mais tempo para a FC e voltei aos meus primeiros amores. Foi a partir daí que devorei num frenesi o máximo de livros de FC.

Em 1995/96 descobri o site Uchronia, the alternate history list, e foi nessa altura que me pus a procura de todos as ucronias disponíveis em francês.

Em 1998, decidi lançar o site La Porte des Mondes, que tenta reunir o máximo de ucronias disponíveis em francês, sejam originais ou traduzidas. A realização do site permitiu-me conhecer vários autores franceses e estrangeiros e, assim, fazer algumas entrevistas de autores como Silverberg, Orson Scott Card, Kim Stanley Robinson e autores franceses como Johan Heliot ou Xavier Mauméjean.

O AComo está a situação da FC literária na França?

PM – Não sei se tenho os elementos suficientes para falar da FC francesa. E não vou fazer um histórico da FC francesa desde Verne até hoje. Mas posso dizer que, desde a altura em que voltei a ler FC, em meados dos anos 90, descobri e li com muito mais prazer autores franceses. Creio que hoje a maioria dos leitores da França partilham essa visão.

Na minha opinião, a FC francesa esta cada vez mais interessante. Estes últimos anos descobri autores como Pierre Bordage, Johan Héliot, Thomas Day, Ugo Bellagamba, Xavier Mauméjean, Fabrice Colin, Mathieu Gaborit. Redescobri autores com mais fama como R. C. Wagner, J. C. Dunyach, P. Pagel, Ayerdhal, Serge Lehman, J. P. Andrevon, C. Grenier. São muitos mais os autores que poderia ainda pôr nesta lista, e isso sem falar da riqueza e do potencialidade da FC do Quebec.

Creio que temos um número considerável de autores franceses que poderiam ser traduzidos e rivalizar sem dificuldades e sem vergonha com os autores anglófonos. O problema principal é a fraqueza do mercado francês internacional, e, possivelmente, a dificuldade para um brasileiro, português ou até mesmo um americano de encontrar um livro francês fora da França.

Participo da lista de discussão portuguesa "Ficcao-Cientifica · Ficção Científica e Fantástico" e raremente vejo leitores lusófonos falarem de autores franceses. A culpa também pode ser minha (riso) porque até agora não pensei em escrever um "review" dos livros franceses, mas creio que vou tentar fazê-lo o mais rápido possivel.

Na França, temos a sorte de ter varias editoras, grandes e pequenas, que propõem coleções de FC (sendo que as pequenas são mais empreendedoras que as grandes, aceitando enfrentar riscos), permitindo assim a descoberta de autores novos. Temos tambem várias revistas profissionais como Galaxies, Bifrost e Phénix.

No tocante à produção de livros, a FC francesa possui um grande potencial, mas é uma pena que as grandes editoras não dêem importância ao gênero. Porque, apesar de tudo, a FC em geral não tem muito boa fama na França fora do círculo dos leitores e dos fãs (apesar do fato de eu ter notado que os temas da FC são cada vez mais utilizados pela publicidade).

O AVocê é um entusiasta da FC em geral, mas tem se dedicado a difundir autores de língua lusófona e castelhana no mercado francês. Como foi seu primeiro contato com os autores portugueses e brasileiros?

P M – Sim gosto de FC. De toda FC.
Não posso dizer que difundi a FC castelhana na França. Foi a Sylvie Miller quem permitiu a difusão e traduziu muita da FC castelhana disponivel. Aliás, Bruno Della Chiesa, francês apesar do nome italiano, fez muito com o festival Utopiales em Nantes, sendo um dos primeiros a tentar abrir a FC francesa ao resto do mundo.

Aproveito o momento para agradecer à Sylvie Miller por duas razões: primeiro porque graças ao seu trabalho descobri autores espanhóis, e de outro lado porque, com sua ajuda, estou tentando fazer com a FC lusofona o que ela fez com a FC castelhana.

Eis a razão que me leva a ler os livros de Juan Miguel Aguilera, um autor espanhol. Gosto mesmo do que ele faz, também como gosto de Yoss, um autor cubano . E tive a possibilidade de conhecê-los durante um festival, aqui na França.

Com a ajuda da Sylvie Miller, vamos tentar abrir ainda mais o mercado francês a outras sensibilidades e a outras FC, como a portuguesa e a brasileira.

Foi graças à internet que comecei a descobrir os autores lusófonos e pude entrar em contato com eles. Agora tento partilhar minhas descobertas com os leitores franceses. Estou frente a uma montanha e só agora comecei a galgá-la. Tenho que subir com calma para poder chegar ao topo (riso)...

O AVocê acredita que há a possibilidade do desenvolvimento de um mercado de literatura de FC de cunho mundial, fora do universo editorial anglófono?

P M – Sinceramente, creio que sim. Porque penso que pode haver outros modos de escrever FC, outras sensibilidades além daquela dos anglo-saxônicos. A pouco, tive uma conversa com a Sylvie Miller, onde ela me disse que a FC americana é, por vezes, demasiado maniqueísta e um tanto redutora. Enquanto que a FC espanhola ou lusófona aparece mais colorida e mais diversa.

Na França, os leitores puderam descobrir nestes últimos anos, autores alemães, espanhóis, italianos, cubanos, jamaicanos. Todos eles propõem visões e alternativas diferentes da FC anglo-saxônica. Não quero dizer que a FC não-anglosaxônica seja melhor, mas é diferente, e desenvolve outras maneiras de escrever temas clássicos como space-opera, hard-science, cyberpunk, steampunk e outros.

Pegamos, por exemplo, o steampunk, que conheço bem: a princípio, trata-se de uma nova corrente que se iniciou nos EUA e na Inglaterra, com os livros de Powers, Blaylock, Gibson e demais. Mas, por volta de 1995, reparamos que vários autores francos souberam recuperar esse tema e adaptá-lo ao público francês. Em vez de situar a ação em Londres dos finais do século XIX, transpuseram as suas historias à Paris, mas na mesma época, com personagens (verdadeiros ou imaginarios) bem conhecidos, como Arsène Lupin, Jules Verne, Vidocq etc... Acho que o steampunk “à francesa” não deve nada ao anglófono, e até pode interessar o público português, espanhol ou brasileiro. Mas será que esses públicos alguma vez ouviram falar desses livros? Julgo que não, e acho uma pena.

Ademais, a FC estrangeira pode contar histórias com temas bem diferentes dos habituais, temas usados na França, tal como Eu matei Paolo Rossi, de Octavio Aragão. Nesse conto, um dos pontos focais é a paixão pelo futebol que existe no Brasil, o que soa um pouco "exótico" na França.

É preciso saber se as editoras portuguesas, brasileiras e as outras, podem ter vontade de buscar e traduzir contos franceses, e realizar um trabalho similar ao de alguns editores franceses.

Se ninguém der o primeiro passo, todo o trabalho realizado por várias pessoas para tentar descobrir essa "outra" FC pode não ser mais do que un coup d'épée dans l'eau (un golpe de espada na água) e as várias FC existentes no resto do mundo continuarão a ignorar-se, medindo forças com a FC anglófona.

O ASeria o advento da Internet um elemento indispensável para essa unificação, esse reconhecimento mundial?

P M – Creio que a Internet têm sido um meio fantástico para promover e descobrir a FC de vários países, seja com os diversos sites, seja pelas listas e grupos de discussão. É so ver o número de sites dedicados à FC existindo na rede, é simplesmente incrível!

Foi a minha descuberta da Internet que me levou a criar o site sobre Ucronias, e sei que é regularmente visitado por internautas oriundos do Canadá, Nova Zelandia, Japão, Tahiti, Brasil, USA, sem falar dos países europeus. E trata-se de um site modesto, dedicado às ucronias em francês. Fico espantado!

A Internet abre uma janela maior sobre o nosso mundo, permintindo-nos saber realmente o que habitantes de vários países podem pensar de tal ou tal aspecto ou acontecimento. Ainda mais quando se trata de pessoas que partilham uma paixão para a FC.

O AEm que ponto estão seus vários projetos editoriais?

P M – Estou finalizando a tradução de um autor brasileiro para uma revista francesa. Disseram-me que existe possibilidade para propor contos lusófonos na França, e eis o meu principal objetivo nos próximos meses: fazer que alguns autores de língua portuguesa sejam publicados aqui.

Mas também gostaria fazer a mesma coisa no sentido contrário: apresentar autores franceses aos leitores de Brasil e Portugal.

Estou finalizando para breve uma antologia de contos ucrônicos cujo tema é a França, com histórias inéditas de autores americanos, cubanos, brasileiros e franceses, e que se chamará Douze Frances – um "piscar de olhos" à canção de Charles Trenet, Douce France –, e também estou trabalhando para realizar outro do meus sonhos: abrir uma pequena livraria e trabalhar com o que eu mais gosto: os livros.

segunda-feira, 1 de março de 2010

A New Hard SF: Interview with Edward M. Lerner

Edward M. Lerner is part of the new generation of the American hard Science Fiction writers, with works published in the prestigious magazine Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and in a lot of sites in the Internet.
Here he will talk about his stories – with a mix of Physics, Space Engineering, History and Sociology –, his time in NASA and the state of American Science Fiction nowadays.

With you, Edward M. Lerner.

Octavio Aragão – Hello, Edward. Glad to have you here, in the Intempol site.

You have a degree in Physics and a masters in Computer Science. But, you also have a heavy and clear interest in Sociology, as we can see in some of your short stories (By The Rules, published in Analog, in June, 2003) and novelettes (the serialized Moonstruck, Analog, to be finished in December, 2003), where we can see Alien races studying - or manipulating - Earth just like anthropologists like Lévi-Strauss used to do with other cultures in the early XX century. Do you use to research Sociology and Anthropology to build your stories of "alien contact"? If so, who are your favorite authors in this field?

Edward M. LernerBy The Rules concludes with the acknowledgment: With thanks (and apologies) to Jenn. Jenn is my daughter and an ABD (all but dissertation) grad student of sociology. I did use her as a resource on that story – after which I exercised authorial privilege to ignore any inconvenient details. A case can be made that the apologies owed are for more than any poetic license I exercised. You see, the household rules in that story were mine, inflicted on Jenn and her brother Jeremy.

Moonstruck (and most of my fiction) was developed without Jenn’s help. I do draw upon a longstanding interest in history, however, in this serial and many other stories. In my mind, there’s a significant overlap between historical analysis and sociology.

OA – Your passion for, in your own words, "rocket science" is very deep and you claim that your experience working for NASA helped built and write a more realistic background to your stories, producing "a stockpile of source material for future stories". What, when and where did you used from the "NASA experience"? You just used the "good things" or you tend to show the ugly side of the great corporations in your work?

EMLMoonstruck draws heavily upon that NASA-contracting experience. (That said, allow me to be a bit general, since the final installment of the serial remains to be published. I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone.) The space-shuttle scenes certainly benefit from my having ‘flown’ the shuttle training simulator. The fact that I ‘crashed’ every time has no bearing on the story. The years I spent working on NASA’s ‘mission to planet Earth’ also proved useful – although I twisted that knowledge into a scenario no practicing climatologist would ever expect to encounter.

Do I use the ugly side of corporate life? Absolutely! Consider my novelette Creative Destruction (first appearing in Analog, March 2001, and later included in Year’s Best SF 7 [David G. Hartwell, editor]). That story revolves around radio-based interstellar trade in intellectual property -- and a vast corporate conspiracy to circumvent the UN’s import/export controls. My imagined chicanery is certainly much uglier than anything Iíve experienced in the real corporate world – I know of no corporate-sanctioned murders! – but it reflects the many years I’ve spent in the corporate trenches.

Another example: my first novel, Probe, opens with a first-contact scenario and also involves corporate malfeasance. This time, however, the corporate plotters are as much in the dark as anyone else.

OA – You are part of a "new new wave" of SF writers that appeared in the last years in the pages of the magazines writing short stories. But we also can notice a huge amount of "trilogies" and famous authors doing their best to write the hugest books, full of sequels and prequels that smell a lot like just "moneymakers". How do you see the actual state of the literary SF as a viable media in US? Is it growing, is it stagnant or in plain flight upwards?

EML – I’m part of a wave? Who knew?

Yes, novels are getting longer, and series are becoming more prevalent. There are good and bad aspects to that state of affairs. I’m all for a series when the scale of an idea is bigger than one book can accommodate. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings would provide a far poorer experience if it were compressed/scaled-back to one book. The same would be true of the original Asimov Foudation trilogy or Brin’s first Uplift trilogy. That said, some series have continued longer than (in my opinion) the core idea required. Honesty requires an admission: some of the ideas I’m working with support (again, just my opinion) a two- or three-book short series.

More broadly, what’s the state of SF in the US? Not entirely to my taste. My particular preference is for technically sound (“hard”) SF and a steady stream of big/bold new ideas. The many fantasy, media tie-in (such as Star Trek and Star Wars), and past-their-prime series books don’t leave much room for what I’d like to see. That’s too bad, because SF, of all genres, needs a steady stream of innovations.

OA – Let's talk a little about your process of work: your stories are very hard-science driven, with lots of data and references to your scientific knowledge (computer science or space flight engineering). With these characteristics, how do you do revision? All by yourself? Or are you like Stephen King, with a small group of colleagues that knows the same topics you do and helps you with the small typos and eventual factual/scientific inconsistencies? Do you use to discuss your ideas before begin writing? If so, with whom?

EML – Writing hard SF motivates me to learn esoteric topics – science and technology change so rapidly I can’t rely on what I retained from college. There are also plenty of exciting ideas too new to have studied in college, like nanotech and proteimics (protein engineering). The research I do is fun, and because it deals with strange, plot-centric needs, has a focus unlike general study.

I’ve discussed some plot ideas with colleagues, but that’s the exception. The one time I gave an early section draft to a colleague, she lost it!

My wife Ruth is my first reader. She’s an avid SF fan but not a technologist – her review is invaluable. She’s excellent at finding where Iíve said too much or too little about technology, or where the connection between the plot and the technology isn’t clear.

None of this is to say inaccuracies can’t creep into my writing. Stan Schmidt, the editor of Analog, is a PhD physicist and has saved me from myself a couple of times.

OA – Your series Moonstruck is full of details - a true, credible Universe -, and we can see the roots of a novel between it's pages. Any plans for a future book? What the future brings? Any other projects?

EML – Thanks for the kind words about that story. Moonstruck (like most four-part Analog serials) is actually novel-length, and I hope to interest a publisher in releasing it in book form.

Long-time Analog readers will also recognize some of my other near-term projects. Interstellarnet is a novel that expands upon several novelettes published in 2000 and 2001 (including the above-mentioned Creative Destruction). Interstellarnet Conspiracy is a (pardon the irony) follow-on – not a sequel, but set in the same universe. Finally, Fools’ Experiments is a novel that expands upon two 2002 Internet-centric Analog contributions, a novella (Presence of Mind) and a two-part serial (Survival Instinct).

Edward M. Lerner

domingo, 14 de fevereiro de 2010

Awe and Humility: Interview with Robert Charles Wilson

He is a collector of prizes and awards and is gaining recognition all around the world with his novels that mixes the drama of Human evolution and hard Science Fiction. In an exclusive interview for the Intempol site, the author of Darwinia and The Chronolits, Robert Charles Wilson, talks about religion, mainstream novels and the future.

Octavio Aragão - Hello, Mr Wilson. Glad to have you here!
You won - or was finalist of - practically all the Science Fiction & Fantasy literary awards in USA (Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, John W. Campbell Memorial, Sunburst and Aurora). How did they influenced your career?

Robert Charles Wilson - Anything that brings your name to the attention of people is a good thing, and I suppose the awards helped attract a larger audience for my work. But I suspect what really matters about awards (or at least nominations) is, for most writers, the sense of acknowledgment. Writing is lonely and often dispiriting work. No matter how skewed or arbitrary the award process may be, the occasional nomination is a reminder that someone out there values what you do.

OA - I know you love the "fantastic-plot driven literary genre" since you was a kid, but your characters are all very well built (I personally like very much Guilford Law, the protagonist of Darwinia). With all that care about human relations and emotions, did you ever wanted to do the crossing and write a mainstream novel?

RCW - I admire many things about the contemporary mainstream novel, especially the attention to detail and mood, and I try to bring these things to my own writing. But I'm in love with genre sf. The task of creating good science fiction -- projecting a shadow of our known world and then imaginatively inhabiting it as if it were real -- is absolutely fascinating to me. It's a genuine artistic challenge, and I think it's revealing that when mainstream writers attempt the crossing in the other direction (Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake is the current example) they often fall embarrassingly short.

Will I ever write a mainstream novel? I might, but I would want it to address the same esthetic sensibility that attracted me to sf in the first place: the intuition that the universe is a much stranger place than it appears.

OA - Your works are very "hard" in some ways - specially Bios and the timetravel related ones -, sometimes filled with tiny small scientific details in the backgrounds that shows your knowledge and scientific approach. Don't you ever wanted to write a "non-fiction" book about, for instance, Quantum Physics?

RCW - No. I make a valiant attempt to get the details right, but those "small scientific details in the background" are, at best, a fiction writer's interpretation of what other (much smarter) people have written. Some sf writers (Isaac Asimov, Robert Sawyer) are natural-born explainers. They can explain a tough scientific concept clearly, correctly, and entertainingly. I wasn't born with that particular talent.

OA - You seem fascinated by the concept of "God" or entities so above the Human understanding that we could see them as deities. Are you a religious man or your scientific background avoids you from the simple feeling of "awe", tempting you to try a rationalization of "God" inside your stories (please, notice that I'm not a religious guy, just very curious. You can say here whatever you want! :-D)?

RCW - As I child I was exposed to a variety of Baptist fundamentalism by way of my paternal grandmother – beliefs to which my parents generally deferred, although they weren't especially devout or observant. As a bright if slightly literal-minded child, these beliefs simultaneous interested me (they were, after all, Big Ideas) and repelled me (I figured you had to be either ignorant or willfully stupid to argue with the concept of evolution).

I do believe that the appropriate spiritual response to the universe in which we find ourselves living is awe and humility. This, it seems to me, is what religion ought to foster; and this, it seems to me, is what religious doctrine too often strives to ignore or refute. By claiming that the universe is 6,000 years old, by making some particular human ethnicity the centerpiece of creation, by suggesting that God is offended by, say, homosexuality, religion belittles the Creator it claims to exalt.

OA - Once, yet in the late XX Century, you said that the years ahead of us would be far from the "Mad Max future". Well, didn't the events in 09/11 and the recent "war against terrorism" changed your predictions? If so, how do you see the future from now on? What expect us right ahead?

RCW - In the eighties and nineties it seemed as if the "Mad Max" future was the only one people could imagine – it was our collective default setting for the word "future." And yet no one really believed in it, or acted as if they did. It was a cinematic fantasyland, like Middle Earth or Hogwort's College. Good for a couple of hours in a darkened movie-house, irrelevant to your life.

9/11 may have made that glamorously ruined wonderland a little less inviting... may actually have brought it back into the realm of genuinely speculative sf, a place in which, if we're not careful, our children may actually have to live.

But my main complaint is that, barring total ecological collapse, the future is inevitably going to be more complicated than that. To take one example, biological engineering will give us designer plagues -and- a cure for cancer. Both. Perhaps simultaneously.

OA - Since you are very interested in the "transcendental" side of Humanity, - even in your more "Hard" novels -, what should we expect from your next book, Spin?

RCW - Since Spin is a work-in-progress, I don't want to give too much away. But I can say that Spin addresses both the next forty years of human civilization and the next 4 billion years in the evolution of the solar system.

What makes SF so interesting right now is that writers are beginning to confront two scenarios pressed upon us by contemporary science. One alternative is that humanity, as a species, might abort itself in a planet-wide ecological collapse. The other is that we'll survive the difficult next century and expand beyond our planet... in a form that our ancestors might not even recognize as human.

OA - Last question: Do you like "great sagas"? Seems that the American Market urges for this kind of books with more than 400 pages and cliffhanger endings that suggests endless continuations or trilogies. If so, is Darwinia becoming a "trilogy" or something like that?

RCW - I'm often asked about sequels, especially to Darwinia and Bios. The answer: not impossible, but no immediate plans. I'm not opposed to the concept of trilogies or massive kilopage blockbusters; I just don't think they should be obligatory.

There will be a sequel to Spin, however. Spin is a stand-alone novel utterly complete in itself, but it ends with the Earth (and the universe at large) in a relationship that fascinates me and one I wanted to spend more time exploring.


You can find more about Robert Charles Wilson and his novels here.

Arquivo do blog