An Interview with Robert G. Penner, Author of Strange Labour

Robert Penner was editor at Big Echo, which ran for four years and published boundary breaking SF. Now he's moved into his own boundary breaking with a bold, new book, Strange Labour.

Some books have a painterly quality. The images jump off the page, vivid windows into worlds that veer into territory at once strange and familiar. That's where Penner's Strange Labour begins and ends. Penner is an imagist in the quality of the moderns as much as he is a postmodernist and a genre writer. Strange Labour is literary SF, merging philosophy with PK Dickian skepticism, like anxieties about using marijuana for fear of scrambling one's own genetic material.

Cat's Crade - Kurt Vonnegut

This book "is devoted to pain, in particular to tortures inflicted by men on men." - from the Sixth Book of Bokonon

Paul Virilio's Original Accident considers how new technology creates ever greater possible calamities. The passenger airplane creates the air crash. The highway creates high speed car wrecks worthy of J G Ballard. Essentially, Virilio riffs on the balance between life and death, creation and decay. Everything is wolved by the fangs of entropy. But some technology resists classification here. Think of DARPA's soundwave based weapons, microwave based weapons, nuclear weaponry. None of that technology exists in some kind of mystic yin-yang between swell-ish and hellish. No, this crap was created to hurt people, to flatten cities, to maintain political sovereignty and economic might.

Annexing Invasion: An Interview with Rich Lawson

Rich Lawson, author of Annex and Cypher, writes invasion narratives in response to today's media environment, drug-induced hallucinations, and as a cathartic exercise since his family has personally borne the experience of invasion.

A singularly powerful aspect of Annex is that the aliens, though murderous, endow humans with powerful bio/psychic internal power qua weaponry. The weaponization of encountering the other is provocative. Rich's characters draw from power in their gut, the very place that we often use to describe our dislike of people and things: for example, "I had a gut feeling" or "I knew in my gut." With this gut power, Rich's characters can temporarily alter reality, creating holes in solid structures. The metaphoric work describes the disruptions in societies as a result of racism. Hate for the other sees through culture, art, and tradition, it masks reality with a fantasy of hate, a fantasy that insists that a people group are worth nothing, are nothing.

Lawson has published dozens of short stories, beginning in 2011. He was born in Niger and now lives in Ottawa, Canada. 

From Space Opera to Cyberpunk: Influences of 13 Science Fiction Writers

Where do the ideas that populate science fiction originate? Are ideas beamed into writer's heads from a Russian space satellite? Does a divine spirit breathe the Promethean flame into blessed brains? Does genetic material house racial memories and cultural archetypes, the symbolic language of dreams, from which all of our stories find their nascence? Maybe some of that's true for someone, but for the men and women in the trenches, daily penning SF, the more universal experience is that writing takes thought work. Writers ask themselves, what is possible? What ideas haven't been explored? Where is humanity headed? What technology and what kind of societies will the future hold? While SF writers explore new territory, dreaming new dreams, they also revisit past futures, finding inspiration in the pages of SF past. 

Rapid Transmission asked several science fiction writers to talk about what had the greatest impact on their writing and how such works, whether books, movies, or games, reflect on their own work.

Man Plus - Frederick Pohl

Frederick Pohl's Man Plus is a cynical consideration of posthumanism. Rather than terraforming Mars, scientists operate on a spaceman to create a being suited for life on an otherwise inhospitable planet. Why is this cynical?