Tag Archives: english

The House of Shattered Wings, de Aliette de Bodard

[Con esta reseña inauguro una nueva etapa del blog con la idea de prevenir su fallecimiento por inanición. Es posible que recupere la dinámica anterior, pero este año va a ser complicado y prefiero dar salida a reseñas breves e impresionistas que guardar en el cajón de las cosas no hechas las reseñas más elaboradas y extensas que he venido escribiendo hasta ahora (“Elaboradas” en relación con el tiempo que me lleva escribirlas, no en su calidad o falta de ella). Muchos ya conocéis mis gustos y esto pretende ser algo informal, así que voy a saltar directamente a conclusiones sin argumentar especialmente. Estaré encantado de explicarme en los comentarios, por supuesto. A ver cómo sale esto…]

Sinopsis

A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in Heaven.

Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.

House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, a alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation. They may be the architects of its last, irreversible fall…

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Station Eleven, de Emily St. John Mandel

station eleven_cover 1A nivel de crítica y reconocimiento en galardones, Station Eleven está teniendo una repercusión que va más allá del público habitual de la ciencia ficción y las críticas que acumula en algunos de los principales períodicos internacionales concuerdan en destacar la calidad de la voz literaria de Emily St. John Mandel —algo con lo que me cuesta poco estar de acuerdo—. ¿Porqué algunas novelas de ciencia ficción triunfan entre el público general y otras no? Para mí es un misterio, y no creo que la respuesta dependa, exclusiva o principalmente, con su calidad. Tal vez tenga más relación con los círculos culturales desde los que surge —el entorno del autor o autora, o de sus editores, que a su vez condiciona hasta cierto punto qué sector de la crítica le prestará atención a priori—, aunque se me ocurren excepciones como el La chica mecánica de Bacigalupi o el El nombre del viento de Rothfuss (surgidos de un entorno cercano al fandom). Está claro, en cualquier caso, que calidades aparte, si Javier Marías escribe una novela de ciencia ficción eso llamará la atención de un sector del público (profesional y lector) al que una novela de Rodolfo Martínez (por nombrar a un autor con carrera dilatada) le hubiera dejado indiferente. Y aquí enfatizo muchísimo el «a priori», me refiero solo al impulso de leer el libro y prestarle atención en prensa, no a la valoración una vez leído. Despersonalizando, desde el punto de vista de difusión del género, me inclino a pensar que eso es antes bueno que malo, aunque también podría ser indiferente… Parto de la base de que un buen escritor será capaz de escribir una buena novela aunque no esté excesivamente familiarizado con las claves del género, y que incluso puede estar en situación de aportar un soplo de aire fresco. El ejemplo paradigmático para mi sería La carretera, la obra maestra de Cormac McCarthy. Luego, claro, está la contrarreacción espontánea del lector habitual de género: eso ya lo hizo antes, y mejor, el autor blablablá que además se llevó un Hugo y patatín, patatán. Cuestión de debate. Algo similar sucede con Station Eleven. Continue reading

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A Man Lies Dreaming, de Lavie Tidhar: La Historia se echa a soñar

amanliesdreamingDespués de mucho tiempo sin hacer ninguna lectura conjunta he podido retomar el hábito gracias a Cristina Jurado (escritora, editora y bloguera en Más Ficción que Ciencia) y a Josep Maria Oriol (bloguero, podcaster, magnífico lector y mejor amigo). Leer con otros pudiendo comentar “en vivo” es algo que me encanta hacer cuando el libro se presta, y “A Man Lies Dreaming”, ciertamente, se presta. Para ponerle el broche a nuestra lectura, cada uno de nosotros ha escrito una reseña en la que, además de opinar sobre el libro, responde a una pregunta de cada uno de los otros dos. Y por si fuera poco, ¡Lavie Tidhar nos ha respondido una pregunta sobre el libro a cada uno! Esperamos que os interesen las reseñas y esta especie de triple entrevista distribuida homeopática.

“Somewhere in the distance he could hear a wireless playing Judy Garland’s ‘Over the Rainbow’. Wolf had seen the film but, had he been the one swept up to the magical land of Oz, he would have raised an army of flying monkeys, stuck the witches in a concentration camp, razed the Emerald City to the ground and executed the wizard for communist sympathies, being a Jew, a homosexual, intellectually retarded, or all of the above.

He did like the tune, though.”

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Lexicon, de Max Barry: El Sistema Operativo de la Mente

lexicon_usa_hb_big¿Habéis leído “El Predicador”, de Garth Ennis y Steve Dillon? Tremendo cómic. En él Jesse Custer, el predicador que da título a la serie, es parasitado por una entidad de naturaleza divina que le otorga el don de hablar con La Voz de Dios: con ella, su autoridad es absoluta y resulta imposible desobedecer sus deseos. A una premisa similar, sin los aspectos religiosos y con un planteamiento más cercano al thriller y a la ciencia ficción que a la fantasía urbana gamberra de Ennis y Dillon, recurre Max Barry en “Lexicon”, donde también se detectan trazas de historia secreta o novela de conspiraciones. Es una propuesta un tanto fallida pero interesante y creo que puede interesar tanto a lectores familiarizados con el género fantástico como a otros no especialmente interesados en él. Yo la he disfrutado de principio a fin, pero resulta imposible pasar por alto algunas aristas importantes que, para mi, impiden que se aleje de la convencionalidad: el forzamiento de ciertas casualidades necesarias, la aparente violación de algunas de sus propias reglas —por más que se pueda justificar con pequeño ejercicio de gimnasia mental— y la incapacidad del autor para evitar la confusión en la relativamente compleja estructura de la novela. A pesar de estos problemas es una novela original, emocionante, bien planteada e incluso escrita con cierta voluntad de estilo. Me ha gustado lo que hace Max Barry y sin duda leeré “Jennifer Government”, la otra novela suya que me llama la atención. Tanto esta como “Lexicon” han sido publicadas en castellano (“Jennifer Gobierno” por la editorial Tropismos y “Lexicón” dentro de la colección Nova de Ediciones B).

 

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Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes: decadence and vivacity

“Shakespeare would have it wrong these days. It’s not the world that’s the stage – it’s social media, where you’re trying to put on a show. The rest of your life is rehearsals, prepping in the wings to be fabulous online”

broken monsters

Lately, I have had the good luck of reading books that I have thoroughly enjoyed, and if I were asked to choose the best among them Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes, would be my first choice.

Yes, I liked The Shining Girls quite a lot (indeed) and I still think it is one hell of a novel, but I also think that Broken Monsters is a significant improvement by any measure. I also think that is pertinent to speak of improvement because BM builds upon some of the ideas (both thematic and stylistic) already explored in TSG: noir or thriller novel with some fantastika elements more seamlessly included in BM, in my opinion, than in TGS —besides being closer to horror than to sci-fi—. Part of this success I attribute to an improvement in terms of prose and to BM being a more compact novel; another part, though, may owe to the disregard of some concessions to commerciality —such as the cheesy love story— to which TSG submitted and which I fail to perceive in BM. It may well be me overreading, here, but in hindsight it’s like Beukes had assimilated all that she learnt while writing TSG and had said “come on, now the real deal”. And she succeeded.

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Broken Monsters, de Lauren Beukes: decadente y vital

“Shakespeare would have it wrong these days. It’s not the world that’s the stage – it’s social media, where you’re trying to put on a show. The rest of your life is rehearsals, prepping in the wings to be fabulous online”

broken monstersÚltimamente he tenido la suerte de disfrutar con muchos de los libros que he leído, pero si tuviera que destacar uno por encima de todos ellos sería Broken Monsters, de Lauren Beukes. Mi libro del verano.

Si The Shining Girls (Las Luminosas) me gustó (y lo hizo), Broken Monsters me ha parecido una mejora sustancial en casi cualquier aspecto. Hablo de mejora porque BM supone un paso más en la línea iniciada con TSG: novela negra o thriller con un elemento fantástico —mejor implementado, en este caso—, más cercano al terror que a la ciencia ficción. A parte de haber perfeccionado su estilo y de haber escrito una historia más compacta, tengo la sensación de que BM es mejor novela, en parte, porque prescinde de una voluntad de convertirse en bestseller que, en cierta manera, lastraba a TSG. Sospecho que era esa voluntad la que hacía que la novela se sometiera a una serie de convenciones —sobre todo a la historia de amor, cursi y postiza, entre dos de sus personajes principales— que le impedían alcanzar todo su potencial, sin poner en cuestión el  memorable resultado final del libro. No sé, es perfectamente posible que todo esto sea una paja mental del que esto escribe, pero en retrospectiva parece que Beukes hubiera asimilado todo lo que aprendió escribiendo TSG y hubiera dicho “venga va, ahora en serio”. Y le ha salido bien.

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Jagannath: el abanico de la fantasía del norte

Este es uno de los pocos libros que he releído últimamente y le debo el empujón para la segunda lectura al próximo episodio de The Spoiler Club, en el que aprovecharemos la traducción al castellano de Nevsky Prospects para comentar este libro y ponerlo en relación con algunos autores de relatos en castellano como Cristina Fernández Cubas y Ángel Olgoso. Antes de eso quiero reseñarlo, en parte para ordenar mis ideas antes del programa.

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Ancillary Justice, de Ann Leckie: a un paso del éxito

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice es una de las novelas de ciencia ficción que más hype está generando en la blogosfera anglosajona dedicada al género. No hay más que echar un vistazo a la página del libro en Goodreads para darse cuenta de ello, aunque los que a mi me convencieron para leerlo fueron Jonathan Strahan y Gary K. Wolfe en su excelente podcast Notes from Coode Street (enlazado al episodio en cuestión en el que se menciona el libro). Bueno, ellos y mis buenos compañeros de podcast Elías “Odo” Combarro y Josep Maria Oriol, que propusieron hacer una lectura conjunta del libro. Podéis leer sus respectivas reseñas aquí y aquí.

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Interviewing Karen Lord for Literatura Fantastica RBA

ProgramacionliteraturafantasticaRBARecently, I reviewed Karen Lord‘s highly enjoyable novel Redemption in Indigo, a rural fantasy that successfully mixing a modern sensibility and a tradition arising from oral narrative. Next week the spanish edition of her The Best of All Possible Worlds will be published, a very interesting science fiction novel that will soon be reviewed here at the Ilium’s Library. It’s a very different novel from Redemption in Indigo, a science fiction story exploring issues such as the formation of social networks and the interaction between cultures in a universe filled with life and mistery. I have been given the opportunity of interviewing Karen Lord for the Literatura Fantastica RBA imprint’s blog, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it, so I’m really happy to share the english version of the interview with all the international readers here at this internet thingy.

You can find the spanish version of the interview at the Literatura Fantastica RBA blog. There, you will also find the first chapter of the Spanish edition of the novel .

Ladies and gentlement, behold… Karen Lord!

Karen Lord, photo, 2012Your novel has been published in a moment in which science fiction is increasingly paying attention to the work of writers with origins other than the United States and England. What are your views on this apparent trend to make of science fiction (and fantastic literature as a whole) a more internationally inclusive genre?

It benefits everyone. Readers in the US and the UK are not monocultural. Global literature and art is built from sharing, borrowing and blending the experiences of many. Science fiction is supposed to take us to the farthest reaches of the universe, to the end (and sometimes the beginning) of time. How authentic can all that invented diversity be if we can’t even acknowledge the diversity on our own planet?

On a related note, how does your Caribbean origin influence your novel, both in terms of content and of narrative approach?

I may be too close to my own work to answer that accurately, but I believe the style of my writing, and possibly even the structure of my novels, has been influenced by an oral tradition and also by that peculiar kind of British English that you unconsciously absorb from theology, politics and comedy. The Caribbean region is a place of many nations and peoples, and that too has enriched the content of my stories.

Redemption in Indigo was very well received both by readers and critics, and it is a very different book than The Best of Possible Worlds. What did you learn writing it and what new grounds did you set to explore with The Best of Possible Worlds?

untitledThe best thing I learned from Redemption in Indigo is that a complex narrative can be organic, that you can grow a story rather than plan a story, that pruning (editing) and grafting (rewriting) are key skills that make the final result so much more than a wild thing or a lifeless construct.

I used The Best of All Possible Worlds to experiment with a voice that was informal and occasionally unreliable rather than the voice of a trained storyteller who knows everything and withholds intentionally. Because the narrator doesn’t know, the reader doesn’t know or is forced to guess from other clues. I played with non-linear plots, connected mini-arcs, and most of all pacing – finding that balance between the highly dramatic and the reassuringly domestic, and sometimes purposely mixing the two in order to unsettle the reader.

This novel has been compared with the Ekumen books by Ursula K. Le Guin and it certainly seems to share several themes with them. Where do you see your science fiction in relation with the work of Le Guin or other science fiction writers more interested in the anthropological sciences than in the physical ones?

I am still in the process of understanding my work in the context of the genre, and I think that a critic or academic would answer this better than I could. Some believe that because the physical sciences are called ‘hard science’ that means the ‘soft sciences’ – anthropology, sociology, psychology – cannot produce hard SF. But, in my opinion, anthropological knowledge is what makes a created world, fantasy or science-based, feel real. I suspect that writers who like worldbuilding tend to write SF based on anthropology, whether or not they also include a physical science component. It’s just another kind of thought experiment, but with people and societies as the key variables.

The Best of Possible Worlds is delivered almost through a series of vignettes. This gives a feeling of a “fragmented” world, almost a fantasy land (it even has fairies!) in which races exist with almost no knowledge of each other. It certainly is an intriguing setting and I have the feeling (though I might be wrong) that you have just begun to tap its potential. Could you describe this world to our readers?

untitledCygnus Beta is a a frontier planet populated by refugees and pioneers. There are big urban centres with the latest in galactic tech and small rural settlements that preserve the old ways. Its peoples create and maintain community with a balance of assimilation, adaptation, preservation and participation.

But let me give a little background. I live on a small island, and I once thought that people who lived on continents with boundaries beyond the horizon were naturally immune to both the joys and sorrows of insularity. After I’d travelled around for a bit, I realised that whatever the size of the city, the country or the continent, there are some people who will create a village for themselves defined by boundaries of class, religion, ethnicity or any combination of factors, and they will stay in that village of a few thousand people. Some villages overlap geographically but the human networks rarely connect.

The Sadiri are like that. They travel throughout the galaxy, but they carry their village with them. They never really mix because they’re convinced of their superiority and self-sufficiency. It was interesting to take that kind of society and put it through a series of ‘what ifs’ by looking at the encounter between present-day Sadiri and the descendants of previous Sadiri migrants to Cygnus Beta. Few things challenge the identity as much as people who you expect to be like you, but aren’t. They meet people who look like pure Sadiri but prove to be genetically varied and lack telepathic abilities. They find others who have the mental abilities but frame it in a different morality. They find a group who share the same the genetic heritage but have completely discarded the cultural heritage. This kind of drift and variation is common in Cygnus Beta, but for the Sadiri it is a new experience.

Speaking of untapped potential: Is there any chance of you writing about Naraldi previous adventures? That would really be something to behold. Or more broadly: are you planning to revisit this universe?

I have thought about writing short stories based on Naraldi’s travels, but that might be a bit too much like Doctor Who meets Quantum Leap. Don’t worry, though – I’m working on the sequel to Best right now and we will definitely be exploring the galaxy.

I can’t help to think that the approach to love and the search for life partners depicted in the novel is somewhat cold. Granted, the Sadiri have an enormous “esprit de corps” and they are under extreme circumstances, but even for other Cygnian societies the search for partners seem to be… too checklist-based. Would you like to comment on that?

That’s a very good observation about the Sadiri. My reasoning is that the two elder species of humanity, Sadiri and Ntshune, use their superior brain power in two quite different areas. The Sadiri excel at law, mathematics, physics and philosophy, which can be solitary and theoretical pursuits. Even their work as judges and diplomats puts them in social situations where they are expected to stand a little apart from the rest of the crowd. Their social skills are rather basic, and that is why their family networks are so structured and planned, including the simplification of mate selection.

The Ntshune, on the other hand, are highly social. They understand complex, organic systems. They have complicated family networks and several variants of marriage and adoption. They can remember and recognise more names, faces and histories than any of the other human species. They are known for their expertise in sociology, anthropology and network AI. Their modes of mate selection would be quite different from the Sadiri approach.

El mejor de los mundos posiblesOne of the more intriguing issues in the setting of the novel is the relation between the four main races depicted, particularly regarding the standing of Earth (Terra) among the other races. Some hints are given that the Sadiri have visited Earth in the past and that some Earthlings may have abandoned Earth. In fact, even though references to art from Terra are plentiful, I’m not sure that the story is set in so far a future. I would very much like to know more of this, if it’s something you are willing to disclose.

 

I’d rather not reveal the time in which the book is set, at least not yet, but I will say that the evidence is contradictory because some Cygnians come from different times and parallel Earths. However, with respect to the rest of the galaxy, Terra is very much the junior sibling.

Recently, several writers have suggested that science fiction may be “exhausted”, that it has ceased to be socially relevant. Do you thing this is the case?

That’s a very broad statement. I might be able to make that criticism of some science fiction, but I have also seen works that are very relevant. Part of the problem is lack of agreement on the definition of science fiction. Some might argue that the works I find relevant are literary rather than SF.

Where do you see science fiction literature going in the coming years?

I don’t know, and that’s as it should be. You would have to be a dual-prophet, predicting not only how the literature will evolve, but also how science will develop.

Can you tell us what are your next literary projects?

I’ve already mentioned the sequel for The Best of All Possible Worlds. There is also a sequel to Redemption in Indigo and a handful of short stories, some related to Cygnus Beta.

Are there any words that you would like to address to your Spanish readers?

My apologies for naming my main character Delarua and not de la Rúa! Her heritage does include Spanish ancestry but that was generations ago and names change. Her family’s homestead is in Montserrat, which was inspired by Monserrate (Bogotá, Colombia) and Montserrat (the island in the West Indies).

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Interviewing Christopher Priest for Literatura Fantastica RBA

Recently, Francisco García Lorenzana, director of the Literatura Fantastica RBA imprint, interviewed Christopher Priest as a sort of appetizer before the publication, next week, of the spanish translation of his novel The Space Machine in the imprint, with the title La Máquina Espacial and a wonderful cover by Alejandro Colucci. It was a really interesting interview and García Lorenzana has been so kind as to allow me share with all of you the english version of the interview. I am really happy and I hope that all of you enjoy the interview as much as I did.

 You can find the spanish version of the interview at the Literatura Fantastica RBA blog. I also encourage you to read the introduction to the Spanish edition of the novel written by one of our main fantasists, Javier Negrete.

 I’m very happy to introduce… Cristopher Priest!

 

Cover-La-maquina-espacial

 

In 1976, Christopher Priest was a young author who had published three novels very well received by audiences and critics, and had just won the BSFA in 1974 with The Inverted World and suddenly dares with two of the most important works of the British literature, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, posing an unauthorized sequel linking both storylines, in a clear tribute to HG Wells. Viewed from 2013, was it a stroke of genius, a daring or a youthful folly?

I think it was more youthful folly than genius. I just had the idea that maybe the Martians had a point of view that Wells had not described, and that the only existing description of the invasion was Mr Wells’s book, which I treated as a journalistic account. But as I wrote the drafts I gained a real respect for Wells, and his skilful writing, so my book quickly became what I hoped would be recognized as homage to a great writer.

Which role plays The Space Machine in your literary career?

The three books that had preceded it were all in different ways serious novels, and I wanted to show that I could also write in a more light-hearted vein. For a long time, The Space Machine was my personal favourite amongst my novels, but as time went on and I wrote more books that did change. But I am still fond of it.

Why Wells and not another British author of his generation, or from the Golden Age of American science fiction, or Verne, to give some examples?

There is no one else to match Wells, in my opinion. He is not only an “early” writer of science fiction, he is still one of the best. The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, in particular, do not look like period pieces. But as well as his SF, Wells was a major writer – social novels, political journalism, campaigning journalism, comedies, satires, etc. Anyway, from my point of view when I wrote The Space Machine, no one else had written those two classic novels, so it had to be Wells.

priestIn Literatura Fantastica we have just published an omnibus edition of four major novels by Wells, The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau, do you think that his work is still relevant today? And if the answer is yes, do you think The Space Machine is still interesting and can bring something to the modern reader?

Yes, I would say those are the four “best” SF novels by Wells, although you could add First Men in the Moon and perhaps In the Days of the Comet, plus many of his short stories. All of Wells’s early work is still of great interest to modern readers. With his later books you have to be a bit more selective, because he wrote a huge number of novels and some of those are a bit, well, out of date. But Kipps, Tono-Bungay, Ann Veronica, Christina Alberta’s Father and The Croquet Player are still excellent books by any standard.

As for The Space Machine – I don’t know. I hope readers will enjoy the plot, the relationship between the two main characters, the amusing events, and the various small insights into what Wells was writing about. One of the main motives for writing it was that there have been many dramatic adaptations of The War of the Worlds (from Orson Welles’s radio play in 1939 onwards), some good, some not so good, but they all have one thing in common: they have invariably “up-dated” the story. But this has always seemed to me to miss the unique pleasure of the novel: the vastly superior military technology of the Martians was fought by ordinary soldiers using rifles, artillery hauled by horses, communications using heliography, and all the general materiel of the 19th Century. There was real charm in that … so in one sense The Space Machine was a sort of dramatic adaptation set in the correct period.

Besides borrowing from the two storylines, The Space Machine is a conscious exercise to reproduce the literary style of the Victorian era, was it hard to imbibe the Victorian spirit?

I tried to write The Space Machine as a modern novel, not as an imitation of a past form, but within that modern ethos I wanted to try to re-create the mood, the environment, the comparative innocence of a past time. It was largely a question of choosing the characters and how they would behave, and the locations they would move about in, and the technology they would use … the vocabulary and style of the novel followed quite naturally from that.

Our edition of The Time Machine has a foreword by Javier Negrete which highlights the eroticism that distils the relationship between the two protagonists. Obviously this is a perfectly gentlemanly Victorian erotica, far from the current boom, but deep down, could we speak of this book as a “romance” and a “scientific novel”?

Oh yes! The subtitle of the English-language editions of The Space Machine was “a scientific romance”. This was Wells’s own description of his work at the time. I saw my novel as including a romance between two characters which a modern reader would enjoy, even though the characters would be properly restrained by the customs and social pressures of their time.

If now you had the idea for a similar tribute to HG Wells, would you write the same novel or it would be completely different?

I wouldn’t write The Space Machine again, or anything like it. I try to make all my books noticeably different from each other, and I wouldn’t want to “go back” to that sort of novel. However, my new novel, called in English The Adjacent, has a definite Wellsian theme, and explicit references to the great man: H. G. Wells himself. But what happens in the book is for the time being a secret!

Now a look at the immediate future, what are your next projects? Are you writing right now? Is there any prospect of your works adapted to film or television?

The Adjacent will be published in the UK in June 2013. I’m at present working on the next novel, which will probably be called The Mariners.

 My novel from 1984, The Glamour, is about to be filmed in the UK, directed by Gerald McMorrow, who a few years ago made a film called Franklyn. This film disappeared almost as soon as it came out, but it is easily one of the very best SF films made in Britain in the last 20 years. It is an amazing film, and starred Eva Green, Ryan Philippe, Susannah York, and others. Check it out on DVD if you can! After I saw Franklyn I made contact with Gerald, we became friends, and he decided he wanted to make The Glamour. We are hoping it will go into production this summer. I also have a stage play based on The Prestige, which is planned to open in the West End of London just before Christmas this year. (It is also being staged as a musical in Russia, but that is likely to be two years in the future.)

One last question: you have been very critical of the selection of the shortlist for the 2012 Arthur C. Clarke Award, which are your ideas about science fiction and literature in the last years?

The Arthur C. Clarke Award suffered from incompetent judging last year. I don’t know what the judging panel were thinking, but for some reason they ignored most of the genuinely interesting or ambitious novels published in 2011, and chose one decent novel (The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers, which in the end was the rightful winner), a mediocre novel from China Miéville (Embassytown), and four others of the most unimaginative and familiar kinds of traditional SF. There were many other novels that were better or more stimulating or just more adventurous in their subjects, but the judges seemed unaware of them. As I consider the Clarke Award to be one of the best and most reliable literary awards, one which has supported good or ambitious writing many times in the past, I felt the 2012 judges had failed horribly and embarrassingly. I said so in print, and got into trouble for doing so. But in the end I think it focused people’s minds on what modern SF should be doing, and how writers should be encouraged to try new or difficult material.

As for this year: some of the same judges are still there, so we can only HOPE for the best, but we should fear a return of their tame and conservative values. (There are a couple of new judges this year, so maybe they will improve things. Let’s hope so.) As for me – I have spent the last 12 months researching my next novel, so have not read any of this year’s SF books, and therefore have no plans to say anything about whatever happens …

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