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Amazon Asks: Pierce Brown, Author of "Red Rising"

Red RisingI first heard about Red Rising at an after-party during Comic-Con last July. I'll admit I was a little preoccupied at the time: E.L. James was on one side of the room being lovely and effusive. George R.R. Martin was on the other side of the room being surrounded and elusive. "You've really got to read this book," I was being told. And so I filed the info away, as I couldn't very well sit down then and there. I had three places to be at one time, I hadn't even really slept in two days, and it was dark.

But now, it's time. And this knuckle-whitening dystopian page-turner has not only earned my undivided attention, it's garnered an incredible pre-release buzz amongst our team, on Goodreads, and beyond. In fact it's not only one of our Science Fiction and Fantasy picks for February, it's among our February Best of the Month, as well.

Set on Mars, the story follows Darrow -- a member of the lowest classes in a deeply entrenched social hierarchy (Reds) -- from his daily drudgery to his, yes, "rise" beyond the life he's always known. But as the last page is turned, the story has only barely begun. This first installment of a trilogy left me impatient to begin the next. And the fact that this is a debut novel left me curious about the man behind it all.

Author Pierce Brown tells us what he's reading, why he'd put restrictions on time travel, and how the seventh time can be the charm.


What's the elevator pitch for your book?

Red Rising is the first installment of a trilogy that follows a young man's quest to overthrow a government that stole his freedom and the woman he loved.

In the far future, humanity has spread itself across the Solar System, changing the faces of planets and moons to sustain human life. But humanity is divided. Not by race or creed, but by Color. Golds, paragons of beauty and genius, rule with an iron fist over the rest of the Colors -- Blues, Greens, Whites, Grays, and the lowest caste, Reds. This is the story of one Red rising against injustice by infiltrating the halls of the Golds, intent on destroying their cruel reign.

What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?

Oh man. The piles grow like weeds. There's one pile by my reading chair, another by my bed, another on my bed, another by my desk, another in my car...you get the point. But for simplicity's sake: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Gaiman), Children of Dune (Herbert), Aesop's Fables, Red Seas under Red Skies (Lynch), Ulysses (Joyce), Macbeth, and T.S. Eliot Collected Poems.

Top 3-5 favorite books of all time?

Count of Monte Cristo, Lord of the Flies, Storm of Swords, LOTR, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

The most important work to me is The Iliad. I can't count it as a book, though. My classics professor from Pepperdine would throw a fit.

Important book you never read?

Ulysses by James Joyce It's been at my bedside for six years. While I've been assured it is wonderful, I'm fifty pages in and have discovered it wonderful only for curing insomnia.

Book that changed your life?

Everyone Poops. At two, I worried it might have just been me.

What's your most memorable author moment?

I am now encouraged to talk in libraries. It's like a super power.

Preferred reading format: print? digital?

Print. I'm analog at heart.

What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?

Time travel. But not the kind of time travel that everyone thinks about when you say, "time travel." I would want the power to travel just one minute back in time.

Who needs the power to jump back 300 years? That would be terrible. I'd be the guy who scared a cat that ran into the street where a man was riding his horse, which avoids the cat and instead barrels into a young Colonial chap named George Washington, thereby precipitously ending his potentially important life. Because of me, we'd all still be drinking tea. I can't have that on my conscience.

But jumping back one minute at a time? Harmless. That, and dates would also go much smoother.

What are you obsessed with now?

Now? Severely, limited time travel!

What are you stressed about now?

See above.

What are you psyched about now?

Increased government accountability due to increased access to information by all social classes. Seriously. This makes me giddy. To information, all tyrants fall.

What's your most prized/treasured possession?

My dog, Oswald. Though I think he thinks I belong to him. He's six pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal. He also wears fuzzy sweaters, which is a bit of an indictment against his masculinity. Or maybe mine...

Author crush - who's your current author crush?

Gene Wolfe. He's just that damn brilliant.

Pen Envy - Book you wish you'd written?

A Song of Ice and Fire. George R. R. Martin astounds me. The scope is incomparable, as are the voices of the characters.

Anything by Hemingway. The clarity and depth of his writing continues to startle and affect me. Every time I re-read a book of his, I find new meaning and new emotions.

What's the last dream you remember?

I keep a dream journal. Let me reference it. Let's see here...

December 15th, "Leaves in the desert. Motorcycle with a lance and my dad is watching myself (sic) fly at a dragon who is a frien (sic) from middle school, but is really Mitch McConnell."

I should note that I'm not fully awake when I write these notes down…

What's favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?

Food. And lists. My New Year's resolution is actually to stop reading lists online. 10 Most Quotable Movie Lines? 25 Epic Cat Fails? I will click every time.

What do you collect?

When I lived in North Carolina, I collected musket balls. The woods in our backyard ran up against the battlefield of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, fought during the American Revolution. I'd spend whole days digging there. When I was five or six I found half a dozen musket balls. I ran home to show them to my dad, who insisted I take them to the park ranger, because that was the moral thing to do. The ranger made a show of inspecting them, verified their authenticity then gave me two more, saying something like "honesty always rewards in the end." It was one of the best moments of my childhood. And I still collect artifacts. Recently I found a Roman coin in the ruins of an old outpost above Ephesus in Turkey.

I also collect scotch and old books.

Best piece of fan mail you ever got?

I haven't really gotten much fan mail as of yet. So instead, I'll say the 120 letters from literary agents rejecting my request for representation.

I wrote six novels before Red Rising. None were quite up to snuff, so I don't fault the agents for passing on the material. In fact, had any accepted me as a client, Red Rising would never exist. I count myself lucky.

No one really likes rejection, but for me it's always served as an effective motivator, much more so than compliments. That said, please don't send me hate mail.

Favorite line in a book?

"Not all who wander are lost." -- J.R.R. Tolkien

Book that made you want to become a writer?

Harry Potter. Before reading Rowling's work, I didn't know an author could very literally shape my dreams.

Graphic Novel Friday: Must-Reads in 2014

We consulted Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto to find key upcoming releases in 2014, and the next few months are stuffed with infinity gems. Here are but a few we uncovered.

 

The grand and grizzled Gandalf of comics, Alan Moore, has a banner year ahead, beginning with Miracleman Vol. 1: A Dream of Flying, the sought-after but legally hushed series that will finally be available thanks to Marvel’s legal prowess. Billed only as “The Original Writer” in this new edition (per his wishes), Alan Moore kicks off the superhero deconstruction era of comics by writing a single exclamation: “Kimota!” Plus, it features artwork by Alan Davis, Garry Leach, Steve Dillon, and Paul Neary. (May, Marvel) 

 

 

 

The market needs more horror comics, and horror comics need more witchcraft. Enter Coffin Hill Vol. 1: Forest of the Night by Caitlin Kittredge Inaki Miranda to remedy both in a spooky brew. Eve Coffin (that name!) returns home after 10 years to find her supernatural forest murder mystery remains unsolved. Blood, incantations, snakes, and snarky witches galore. (May, Vertigo) 

 

 

 

Very few comics become in-house favorites like the King of the Flies series: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 were both in our Best of the Year picks for 2010 and 2011, respectively. Now, the late Kim Thompson-translated project will finally conclude with King of The Flies Vol. 3: Happy Daze.  The description promises more hallucinatory creepiness and nihilism—and Ringo, the disturbed bowling greaser—but not much else is known. Fitting, since this series has so far been about the coiling questions it raises—do yourself a dark favor and start the series now. (September, Fantagraphics)

 

 

Confession: I’ve never read Elfquest and know very little about it, except that it appears to involve cute, doll-like elves with leather vests, big hair, swords, and animal friends. It’s also beloved by a devoted readership that swears it’s about much more than my limited understanding. Gauntlet thrown! The Complete Elfquest Vol. 1 by Wendy and Rick Pini arrives this summer to set me straight. (August, Dark Horse)

 

 

 Afterlife with Archie should not be this good, but I swear on my Romero DVDs that it is—in every bloody way. Most of this is due to Francesco Francavilla’s never-dull, atypical take on the Riverdale crew—here they all are as young adults, not cartoons. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s script is both an homage to classic horror (Stephen King’s Pet Sematary is freely referenced) but also a did-they-really-just-do-that? mature take on the franchise. Awash in autumnal hues, the grisly panels and gallows humor will reanimate any interest in Betty, Veronica, Archie, and company. (May, Archie Comics)

For five more picks in 2014, see also our Kindle Daily post! What are you most looking forward to in this new year, Omni readers?

--Alex

 

2013 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced

The nominees for the 2013 Philip K. Dick Award -- presented annually for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original format -- were announced this morning. The 2013 judge panel -- led by chair Elizabeth Bear and including Siobhan Carroll, Michael Kandel, Jamil Nasir, and Timothy Sullivan -- selected the following works for the final ballot:

The winner will be announced April 19 during Norwescon in Seattle, Wa.


Geeking Out: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror in 2014

RothmanThe Future. This is a concept that rarely fazes the sci-fi/fantasy fan -- reading adventurers who consider each everywhere and all of always in the space-time continuum their home. We were reading about rocket ships and touch screen technology before they were a gleam in scientists' microscope-ringed eyes. We've defeated mystical armies, we've befriended wizards, and we've seen legendary people perform anachronistic feats that would blow an historian's date-riddled mind.

So, yeah... in that context, what's the big deal about the next few measly months? Well, books, of course! We may have to accept that jet packs could hit shelves before we turn the last page in A Song of Ice and Fire. (No pressure, Mr. Martin. We know the time's being put to excellent use.) However, while I'm thoroughly enjoying my current reading (Red Rising by Pierce Brown and The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley), there are tons of amazing science fiction, fantasy, and horror books on the horizon. Here are six that make me wish I had a Tardis of my own.

Annihilation

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (FSG, February 2014)

An anthropologist, a biologist, a pychologist, and a surveyor walk into a mysterious place called Area X. No jokes to be made here. This short (less than 200 pages) tale begins a trilogy with potent description and edge-of-your-seat suspense. I hate to make lazy TV/film analogies, but it won't be the last time you see this book compared to "Lost" and possibly even Alien. I'll admit I've started reading this one already and I'm grateful that my wait won't be long to keep going. Subsequent volumes Authority and Acceptance publish in June and September respectively.

The Barrow

The Barrow by Mark Smylie (Pyr, March 2014)

In this debut novel, Mark Smylie gives the world he created in his "Artesia" comic books, a new life. We start with a band of dangerously endearing rogues, a magical map, and a dangerous search for a wizard's sword. My sense of adventure is at the ready. Bring on the emotional manipulation and unabashed violence. I'm ready for an epic quest!

The Detainee

The Detainee by Peter Liney (Jo Fletcher Books, March 2014)

Admittedly, I've developed a bad attitude toward dystopian stories lately. So it's quite meaningful that one of the books I'm most looking forward to this year will find me begging for "punishment satellites" to protect me on a shanty-laden island where mainland residents ship their garbage. And since a massive economic collapse, "garbage" includes the weakest members of society -- like "Big Guy" Clancy, former muscle for a crime boss.

Afterparty

Afterparty by Daryl Gregory (TOR, April 2014)

Before the first chapter even begins, there's religion, drugs, and suicide -- all presented in a crisp, engaging writing style that itself threatens to be addictive. Set in the near-future in a world in which smart drug recipes are opensourced, one church uses dependency on their sacrament, a mind-altering narcotic called "Numinous," to keep followers in line. One of the drug's creators tries to undo the damage. I'm so hooked!

My Real Children

My Real Children by Jo Walton (TOR, May 2014)

This isn't the kind of story I typical gravitate toward, but there's something subtly compelling to me about the setup here. One woman with dementia, two possible realities creating a fork in her life's path just after college. The overlap and divergence intrigue me: in one she's married to a man and they have four children; in the other she's married to a woman with three children. Which, if either, is real?

The Girl With All the Gifts

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (Orbit, June 2014)

Ten-year-old Melanie is surrounded by mysteries, and I know just enough to know that explaining too much will result in spoilers. So, though I tread lightly, let it be known that I am chomping at the bit to truly dig into this story. Here's what I'll share: Melanie sleeps in a cell. She is under strict military protection, just like the rest of the kids in her class. Her favorite teacher seems to know something her students don't know about themselves, and she's emotionally attached to Melanie in a way that could be extremely dangerous for them both.

See Sara's All I Want for New Year's is...
See Seira's YA Books I Can't Wait to Read in 2014

What Makes a Woman Dangerous?

Dangerous Women We asked a few of the authors who contributed to the wonderful, genre-jumping short story collection Dangerous Women -- one of our Science Fiction & Fantasy Best of the Year picks -- what they think makes a woman dangerous. Here's what they had to say...


Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson
"Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell"

What makes a woman dangerous? Well, what makes a person dangerous?

To me, the best kind of danger--which is, in a way, also the worst kind--is unexpected. It's that twisted kind of dangerous that takes something familiar and safe and reveals it as something deadly. Wolves are frightening. A loyal pet going mad and killing a child is ten times more terrifying to me.

For the anthology, I wanted to find a way to express this unexpected sort of dangerous. I didn't want a lean, professional assassin or a warrior in her prime, dangerous though those may be. I wanted something closer to home, a blend of the expected and unexpected. That is where I found Silence Montane.

The first name is one I ran across while reading puritan names. It was the second piece of the puzzle, as it raised questions. Who names their daughter Silence, and what does it imply? What is it like to grow up with this name? The answers built into the concept of a stout pioneer woman who ran an inn on the frontier, drawing the seediest criminals the land had to offer. She'd then track them after they left her inn, and murder them for their bounties.

Familiar, yet unexpected. Kindly, yet deadly. The story turned out better than I could have hoped, and I'm thrilled to have had the chance--and the prompting--to write it.

 

Kress

Nancy Kress
"Second Arabesque, Very Slowly"

What makes a woman dangerous? The same thing that makes a man dangerous: wanting something too much. "Wanting something" is, of course, what drives characters in fiction, as well as in real life. Wanting to win a football game, an argument, the presidency, a certain mate. Wanting to gain money, power, glory, a buff body, a hole-in-one, the most ambitious Christmas lights in town. This is all normal (well, maybe not the Christmas lights). It becomes dangerous when people will do anything at all to obtain what they want. Then you get bloody coups, bank robbery, dangerous steroid use, assassination, and the 1919 World Series. 

It's a balancing act, satisfying the sometimes competing requirements of desire, morality, and other people's outrage. The temptations are many, the rewards great, and the strictures of varying intensity. How badly do I want this? What am I willing to do to get it? At what price? All the characters in Dangerous Women want something, or they would not be dangerous. Usually they want it pretty badly. These are stories about how they go about getting it.

 

Spector

Caroline Spector
"Lies My Mother Told Me

There are so many ways a woman can be dangerous it's difficult to narrow the field. But these four characters in the following films are dangerous because they are all ruthless in getting what they desire. They're beautiful, dangerous monsters.

 

  • Ingrid Magnussen: White Oleander
  • Cora Smith: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
  • Phyllis Dietrichson: Double Indemnity
  • Matty Walker: Body Heat

 

Lindholm

Megan Lindholm
"Neighbors"

Malala Yousafzai threatens the Taliban in a way that no amount of military might could achieve. While still a teenager, she is one dangerous woman, in the best sense of that phrase!

Graphic Novel Friday: Interview at the Federal Bureau of Physics

Publisher Vertigo Comics opened an extraordinary wormhole in 2013 with FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics by writer Simon Oliver and artist Robbi Rodriguez (originally titled Collider). In this world that is otherwise like our own, the laws of physics have begun to deteriorate. As the world struggles to cope and continue with this new, ever-shifting reality, the Federal Bureau of Physics forms to contain and solve for the bizarre. Agent Adam Hardy is one such member of the FBP and, like his father before him, he begins to suspect there is something even stranger afoot in a world that has lost its bearings.

While the first collected volume will release in February, single digital issues are available now. Vertigo and DC Comics provided the following exclusive interview with both creators:

Q: For the uninitiated, how would you describe FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics in one sentence? Okay…we'll give you two. Two sentences!

Simon Oliver: Physics may be broken but it’s no longer front-page news. Luckily the Federal Bureau of Physics is here, their motto: “To prevent and protect mankind from the impossible…”

Robbi Rodriguez: I was asked at the beginning of the project of what I envisioned for the book and I said I saw it as if Kurt Vonnegut, Bruce Springsteen and Wally Wood created a comic. Blue collar sci-fi.

Q: Was there any particular moment or inspiration behind the book’s premise? How long has this idea been with the two of you?

Simon Oliver: I’d been talking to my editor Mark Doyle for a while about doing a new monthly, and I’d been bouncing ideas at him but nothing was sticking. The thing about an ongoing monthly is you need something “big”, some big idea that will keep you supplied with stories to plop your characters down into…anyway it was around tornado season, I was in my car listening to a report about how some tornado had flattened a town in the Midwest and it struck me, “what if the tornadoes weren’t caused by weather? What if it was actually physics? What if physics didn’t work so well anymore? What it the laws of physics were broken?"

I remember calling Mark up and pitching him that version and we knew we had “it”; we had that big idea to run with, so it was just a case of shaping up the rules of the world, and putting the characters together. One big detail, which seems small, but it’s something I think sets the book apart from similar stories, is that it’s out in the open, there’s no big conspiracy to keep it quiet, it’s very much a part of our lives.

Mark had Robbi on a list of artists he wanted to work with, and I think he really nailed it choosing him, and that’s something that goes for the entire art team. Rico nails the colors and Nathan’s covers are second to none. I’ve been lucky.

Continue reading "Graphic Novel Friday: Interview at the Federal Bureau of Physics" »

Graphic Novel Friday: Holiday Buying Guide

Yikes, was everyone else aware that the holiday buying season is almost over? The good news: there are plenty of good-looking comics to give as gifts. The bad news: there isn’t a lot of time! Here are a few noteworthy, stand-out books that would make perfect presents for the comics reader in your life.

For the music buff: The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, and Kyle Baker: The cultural fascination with the Fab Four will never wane so long as new stories continue to be unearthed and told. Here, The Beatles’ manager and visionary, Brian Epstein, receives his due in this dreamy, eccentric graphic novel. There are three editions of this book, depending on how “fab” you want to get: standard hardcover edition (and digital edition), a collector’s edition (with bonus materials), and a limited edition (only 1,500 copies) with a slipcase, bonus materials, and a signed tip-in sheet by writer Tiwary.

For the goofball: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh. This famously bizarre and manic webcomic is finally available as a collection (with new stories!) and it does not disappoint. Amazon editor Mari Malcolm had this to say in her glowing review: “Neurosis has rarely been so relatable and entertaining.” Brosh captures her childhood and adult awkwardness in deceptively simple illustrations, allowing for a universal appeal and accessibility. Parp!

For the lit major: This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz was already a critical hit when it first published in September 2012, but this new slipcased edition includes illustrations by beloved indie artist Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets). There are full-page illustrations for each story, and Hernandez's deep, economical lines perfectly suit Diaz's layered tales [Hope I find this one under the tree!]. Speaking of layered stories, if your special someone does not yet have a copy of The Sandman on his or her shelf, now is the time to remedy such a void with The Sandman Omnibus Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman. Presented in a sturdy, richly detailed hardcover (with over 1,000 pages), this is the gift edition to make any Grinch’s heart swell.

For the history buff: The Boxer Rebellion is told from two perspectives in Boxers & Saints (Boxed Set) by Gene Luen Yang. Appearing on many Best of the Year lists (including ours), Yang’s ambitious examination of the human condition as told through one of the most controversial moments in Chinese history is not as daunting a read as it sounds. Rather, this is a treasure, both in narrative and packaging.

Continue reading "Graphic Novel Friday: Holiday Buying Guide" »

Best of the Year in Science Fiction & Fantasy ... plus Horror

It's been an amazing year for Science Fiction & Fantasy. We saw the conclusion of a truly epic epic fantasy series, father and son horror writers cleverly nodding to one another, a self-published ebook phenomenon turned hardcover release, and much, much more. What follows are three of my favorite genre reads of 2013.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

It's the short story that refused to stay small. Neil Gaiman weaves a gorgeous coming of age tale, filled with all the wonder and magic we've come to expect from him. But it's the autobiographical elements, the moments that came from his memory rather than his pure imagination, that give this tale its true heart. Learn more
The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

There's something to be said for subtlety. Wecker's debut isn't what we typically think of when we think of the fantasy genre. It's more of alternate history that happens to revolve around two incredibly real-feeling and memorable fantasy beings. Months later, the story continues to move me. Learn More
N0S4A2

N0S4A2 by Joe Hill

Imaginative, original, creepy as hell, and referentially genius, N0S4A2 is a new horror gem. Hill delivers true suspense, keeping us locked within the confines of his characters -- showing the story, never telling it. And what characters they are! Vic, a young girl we grow with throughout. Manx, a man so twisted he cameos as an abstract threat in Stephen King's Doctor Sleep. Personalities and special powers are all precise and powerful, even for those we barely get to know. Hill nailed this! Learn More
See all 20 books on the Sciece Fiction & Fantasy Best of the Year list

Happy Halloween Comics!

Happy Halloween! This special collector’s edition of Graphic Novel Friday arrives on a Thursday—just in time for the greatest holiday of them all. With no familial baggage or end of year expectations, Halloween’s all party. In keeping with that sentiment, our Top 10 Halloween comics of the fall are less about the fright and more about the groovy monster mashed-ness of the evening. Raise a dark chocolate and let’s get spooky.Witchinghour_1_

10. Marvel Zombies: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1 by Robert Kirkman, Mark Millar, Sean Philips, and more.

9. The Walking Dead, Vol. 19: March to War by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. 

8. The Witching Hour #1 by Various.COFFIN_Cv1__

7. Creepy Presents: Steve Ditko by Steve Ditko and Archie Goodwin.

6. Creepy Archives Vol. 17 by Various.

5. Revival: Deluxe Collection, Vol. 1 by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton

4. Hellboy: The Midnight Circus by Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo.

3. Coffin Hill #1 by Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda. 

2. The Halloween Legion: The Great Goblin Invasion by Martin Powell, Thomas Boatwright, and Diana Leto.

1. Colder by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra. 

By now it’s almost sunset, Omni readers. Take a peek outside the window. Do the pumpkins look mischievous tonight? Are their grins a little grim? Maybe save a piece of candy in case the doorway darkens once more.

--Alex

YA Wednesday: Cory Doctorow and Terry Pratchett: Authority and Underdogs

CarpetPeopleBest-selling author Terry Pratchett wrote The Carpet People at the tender age of 17.  Now, many years later, Pratchett has re-written the story and it's being published in its new version on November 5th.  In the author's note for The Carpet People, Pratchett refers to the novel as a joint effort between his 17-year-old self and his 43-year-old self. I couldn't help but picture a sci-fi moment after reading that...

When Pratchett sat down for a chat with one of our other favorite authors, Cory Doctorow, the result is as funny and interesting as you might expect from these two, as they discuss The Carpet People, authority, and the underdog:

CoryDoctorowCory Doctorow: The Carpet People was your first novel, and now the fortieth book in your Discworld series is about to be published. Do you think you could have kept us in the Carpet for anything like forty books?

PratchettTerry Pratchett: I was about to say, “No,” but right now I wonder. . . . If the idea had taken, I don’t know. I really don’t. But how would it be? People in the Carpet are more or less tribal. What would happen if I . . . You’ve got me thinking!

CD: You took a bunch of runs at building a world where a million stories could unfold—The Carpet People, Truckers, and, finally, Discworld. Is Discworld’s near-total untethering from our world the secret of its staying power?

TP: It isn’t our world, but on the other hand it is very much like our world. Discworld takes something from this world all the time, shows you bits of the familiar world in new light by putting them into Discworld.

CD: You write a lot of feudal scenarios, but you also seem like a fellow with a lot of sympathy for (and suspicion of!) majority rule. The Carpet People is shot through with themes of who should rule and why. Where does legitimate authority spring from?

TP: The people! The only trouble is the people can be a bit stupid--I know that; I’m one of the people, and I’m quite stupid.

CD: What should the writer’s relationship with authority be?

TP: My personal view is that you look askance at authority. Authority must be challenged at every step. You challenge authority to keep it on its toes.

CD: The Carpet People concerns itself with many questions of infrastructure and public works. Now that we’ve arrived at a time of deep austerity, what do you think the future of infrastructure is?

TP: To crack and fall away, I sometimes think. From what I see around me, it’s people doing it for themselves. We know the government is there, but we know they have no real power to do anything but mess things up, so you do workarounds.

CD: Ultimately, it comes down to the builders, the wreckers, and the free spirits.

TP: Sometimes things need tearing down—and that might be, as it were, the gates of the city. But if we talk without metaphors, I would say that building is best. Because it is inherently useful. My dad was a mechanic; maybe it starts there.

CD: One thing I’ve always enjoyed about your books with feudal settings is that it seems you get something like the correct ratio of vassals to lords. So much of fantasy seems very top-heavy. Do you consciously think about political and economic considerations when you’re devising a world?

TP: I’ve never been at home with lords and ladies, kings, and rubbish like that, because it’s not so much fun. Take a protagonist from the bottom of the heap and they’ve got it all to play for. Whereas people in high places, all they can do is, well . . . I don’t know, actually: I’ve never been that high. If you have the underdog in front of you, that means you’re going to have fun, because what the underdog is going to want to do is be the upper dog or be no dog at all.

CD: Damon Knight once told me that he thought that no matter how good a writer you are, you probably won’t have anything much to say until you’re about twenty-six (I was twenty at the time). You’ve written about collaborating with your younger self on the revised text of The Carpet People. Do you feel like seventeen-year-old Terry had much to say?

TP: That’s the best question you’ve asked all day! I think that he had a go at it, and it wasn’t bad, but that when I was younger I didn’t have the anger. It gives an outlook. And a place from which to stand. When you get out of the teens, well out of the teens, you begin to have some kind of understanding: you’ve met so many people, heard so many things, all the bits that growing up means. And out of that lot comes wisdom—it might not be very good wisdom to start with, but it will be a certain kind of wisdom. It leads to better books.

Omnivoracious™ Contributors

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