It's All a Mating Dance: An Interview with Mark Everglade

Science Fiction encapsulates far more than hard science applied to storytelling. The genre considers history and futurity, gender and sexuality, war and the dynamics of civilizations, the human mind and body, technological progress and regress, life and death. Science fiction is at once about possibility and the hard limitations that humans face, whether of their own strength and lifespan or of the secrets of the near infinite expanse of our universe. And the inner space of the mind and body, grey matter and genetics, are just as fascinating as the vast reaches of outer space.

Empire Records Analysis: Or, Anarcho-Syndicalism Rocks!

I first watched Empire Records in 2000. I was in college and a movie about young, edgy people working together in an independent music store sounded fun. At first blush, the movie comes off as a bunch of posturing young people that aren't comfortable in their own skin. That element is there, to be sure, but to treat the movie as "Just Another Teenage Movie" would be to miss out on a powerful under-riding narrative of collectivism and anarcho-syndicalism.

Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress - Probably a Communist Text


What draws me to Nancy Kress is her background studying English, getting a degree from SUNY Plattsburgh. I'm no New Yorker but an English program is an English program. Add to that that I came up with the novum for this novel while brainstorming ideas for short stories. 

I told my friend Bob Wilson, "Hey, what do you think about a story with people that are biogenetically engineered to not require sleep." 

"Yeah, that's a good idea, but it's already been done. Go read Nancy Kress's Beggars in Spain."

I did read it. I liked it a lot. I also never wrote a story about the sleepless. I guess I still could. After all, part of science fiction is that it operates as a megatext where everyone recycles the same ideas over and over, hopefully adding to them and thinking about concepts in more complex ways--but not always. 

That leads in to questions about entertainment vs. value. Science fiction is sometimes a galvanizing force for the future or a predictor of ugly things to come--ugly things best avoided, but more often than not science fiction is just about entertainment.

High-Tech Corrupted Worlds: A Discussion with Elias J. Hurst

The narratives that easily catch our attention are ones that were already lingering around in our psyche ghostlike before we encounter them, stories of love, death, and adventure, stories that stir us, reminding us of our duty, reminding us of death. 

These are the stories that Elias J. Hurst spins. His most recent novel, Europa, provides that feeling of distant familiarity that keeps you turning the pages where you learn more about an unknown superweapon that threatens humanity, a mysterious enemy, a conspiracy, and a betrayal. Hurst has written three novels, Planning a Prison Break, Lenny, and, most recently, Europa. We talk about Michael Crichton, climate change, cyberpunk anti-heroes, video games, and upmarket vs. postmodern narratives. 

RT: The most famous early science fiction writers were all scientists by training, but in more recent history, the big science fiction writers are idea guys rather than scientists. However, your background is in toxicology, photonics, and millimeter wave communications. Do you feel linked to that older tradition of science fiction writers as scientists? Does your work in science directly inform the stories you write or are those two worlds separated somewhat?

EH: This is where I show my lack of knowledge of sci-fi classics. I started writing sci-fi because of how much I loved Michael Crichton’s books growing up. From middle school on, he was my favorite author. As I understand it, he started out pursuing a writing degree at Harvard and switched to medicine because of conflicts with a lit professor. I believe the scientific education he received while pursuing his M.D. absolutely shaped his approach to science fiction. The concepts in his books are based on technologies of the time but pushed to an extreme. Sphere may be an outlier there, but I think of Jurassic Park, Congo, and Timeline. His approach to science fiction informed mine. Europa is soft-sci-fi/cyberpunk, but my scientific background shapes the technologies that define the environment in it. mmWave technologies in particular play an important role in Europa. We are rapidly moving toward a wireless world—5G and electronic warfare are only the start of it—and I wanted to extrapolate that forward into future dystopia of Europa.