News Ticker

THE APEX BOOK OF WORLD SF 4 Interviews: Julie Novakova, Saad Hossain, Samuel Marolla, and Sathya Stone

Lavie Tidhar, the series editor for The Apex Book of World SF series has kindly asked us to share a series of interviews with the authors that have stories in the newest installment, The Apex Book of World SF 4.

Here’s the synopsis:

Now firmly established as the benchmark anthology series of international speculative fiction, volume 4 of The Apex Book of World SF sees debut editor Mahvesh Murad bring fresh new eyes to her selection of stories.

From Spanish steampunk and Italian horror to Nigerian science fiction and subverted Japanese folktales, from love in the time of drones to teenagers at the end of the world, the stories in this volume showcase the best of contemporary speculative fiction, wherever it’s written.

You can also check out the table of contents here!

Now on with the interviews!


JULIE NOVAKOVA

Julie Novakova was born in 1991 in Prague, the Czech Republic. She works as a writer, evolutionary biologist and occasional translator. So far, she has published seven novels, one anthology and more than thirty short stories in Czech, and eight stories in English (in Clarkesworld, Perihelion SF, Fantasy Scroll and other magazines or anthologies). Besides speculative fiction, she regularly writes nonfiction, usually concerning either science and technology or publishing, and gives popular science talks. She also translates Jason Sanford’s columns for XB-1 magazine.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

JN: I’m a multi-genre fiction writer, scientist, science writer, lecturer, journalist, editor, translator, marketer… let’s say I like to add the “But you can still do a lot” to the “You can do anything, but not everything.” In numbers, I’m 24 years, 7 novels (all in Czech so far), 1 edited anthology (Czech, but I hope some of the stories make it into English), 32 stories in Czech and 5 stories in English old as of now. With more and more other-than-fiction-writing jobs, finding time to write is becoming increasingly rare and precious to me. More than ever before, I’m a juggler of responsibilities. I’m currently trying not to stress out but to approach them as distinct adventures and opportunities to learn. After all, what bigger drive than unceasing curiosity can a writer wish for?

Q: Tell us a little about the story selected for the anthology & what this story means to you & what it’s inspiration was.

JN: “The Symphony of Ice and Dust” opens with a small group of composers from a far future, heading to the distant dwarf planet Sedna for inspiration for their next piece. Upon arrival, they discover that they are not the first humans there; an expedition had actually been sent there during Sedna’s last perihelion at the end of our century. The far-future humans uncover the course of their long-gone predecessors – and in the “past” timeline, we see their strive through the eyes of the mission’s leader Theodora.

The story had originated by merging together two different ideas: I had a vague idea to write about far-future musicians in a ship named Orpheus, and I considered the possibility of writing a story set on Sedna, a peculiar inner Oort cloud dwarf planet. I don’t know how it occurred to me to merge these two – but from that moment, it was a matter of a little research, creating and writing the actual story. I quite frequently draw inspiration either from science papers, or popular science articles. This was partly the second case. The former tends to run a bit on the wilder side – don’t ask what I thought up upon papers on metapopulation dynamics or one interesting zebra finch case study…

Q: Why do you write in the genre that you do?

JN: I write all kinds of speculative fiction and sometimes also detective and historical stories. However, science fiction prevails largely in my work. I like the possibility to explore wild scientific and technical ideas and where they get us as people. I’m the kind of geek who loves a scientific mystery and the “what if” of science fiction. Basically, I love stuff that makes me both think and feel – and mysteries, be they scientific, detective or historical, can do that very well.

Q: What are you working on now & what do you have coming out next?

JN: I’m currently working on my first novel written in English, working title of “The Oasis”. If you like first contact scenarios, planetary engineering and weird biology, you may like this one. Simultaneously, I’m working on two short stories: one a slightly satirical near future science fantasy, the other a historical ghost story set in the German opera in Prague at the dawn of 20th century.

I’ve got plans for many more to come, I’m only a bit short on time right now with having to write papers stemming from my thesis, pop-science articles and promos, and prepare some lectures and lots of other work – that’s what I’m mostly working on instead of those stories I’ve mentioned.

I have several upcoming stories at the time: “The Ship Whisperer,” a hard SF in Asimov’s; “Dancing An Elegy, His Own,” a little experimental SF in Fantasy Scroll Magazine; “Aeronauts of Aura,” a steampunk SF in Ares Magazine; and “The Adventure of The Lost Theorem,” a mystery in The Mammoth Book of Professor Moriarty Adventures. The anthology should be published this fall. Regarding the magazines, I don’t know the precise issues as of yet. It may take some time.

Q: Who are some of your favourite writers?

JN: I especially love SF by Greg Egan and Peter Watts. Others would include Robinson, Reynolds, Sterling, Pratchett, Stross, Bear, Liu… well, great many amazing authors. Apart from speculative fiction, Agatha Christie, Oscar Wilde, Patricia Highsmith, Robert van Gulik, Truman Capote…

I’m also going to mention one Czech author: Hanuš Seiner. You cannot have heard of him so far, because he writes in Czech, but that may hopefully change in near future, as I’m translating a couple of his short stories into English. They deserve a wider audience, he’s just an amazing writer full of breathtaking ideas. There are of course many more Czech authors worth translating but his fiction particularly appeals to me.

Q: What or who do you want to be next lifetime?

JN: Just a happy, creative, curious and inventive person in a world that promotes these features and tries to make everyone better off in general.

(Writer? Musician? Biologist? Physicist? Chemist? Rocket scientist? Astronaut? Doctor? Architect? Photographer? Baker? Barista? Cook? Ah, to have a thousand lifetimes…)


SAAD HOSSAIN

Saad Z Hossain writes in a niche genre of fantasy, science fiction and black comedy which, on the balance of it, very few people actually want to read. Practical evidence aside, he has powered on in this direction wasting reams of paper (in his youth) and now kilobytes of data storage. Due to the stunning unpopularity of his writing he has been forced to work in various industries. This includes digging holes, making rope, throwing parties and failing to run a restaurant. Needless to say, working for a living is highly overrated. He hopes to retire very soon and lead a life of monastic isolation. He lives in with his wife and two sons in Dhaka, the most ridiculously populous city in the world, teaming with humans, wildlife, and djinn. Monastic isolation is a long shot.

His novel, Escape from Baghdad! has been published by Unnamed Press, California, and is available throughout major bookstores in the US and UK, and also online through Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

SH: When I was six I saved a goat from an Abrahamic animal sacrifice (Korbani, for muslims) and kept him as a pet for almost two years, until he died from pneumonia.

Q: Tell us a little about the story selected for the anthology & what this story means to you & what it’s inspiration was.

SH: I’ve been writing a novel on djinns, and this story was part of the world building. I’ve been trying to get away from the concept of djinns haunting humans in the traditional sense. Once the story started, though, it became more about that yearning for something more, something magical you have as a child, and sometimes it comes back to you in odd moments, when you just intensely want there to be a door into a different world.

Q: Why do you write in the genre that you do?

SH: Magic, sword fighting, space ships, aliens is what made me want to read books in the first place, as a child, immersing myself in other worlds. I think every genre has merit, but what I particularly enjoy about fantasy/sci fi is the total freedom, to not be restricted by history, or physics, or geography.

Q: What are you working on now & what do you have coming out next?

SH: I’m writing an urban fantasy about Djinns. I want to redefine their secret world, to give them mythology, and character, and history.

Q: Who are some of your favorite writers?

SH: I just read a Murakami book (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage). I always enjoy his books even though I’m never enthusiastic at first. Steven Erikson, Colleen McCollough, Jane Austen are some writers I keep rereading every few years.

Q: What or who do you want to be next lifetime?

SH: I want to live forever. Not necessarily in the same body or form, but I’d like to have continuity of consciousness for the next few thousand years at least. Make it happen, science.


SAMUEL MAROLLA

Samuel Marolla was born and lives in Milan (Italy) and is a speculative fiction writer. He writes both fiction and comics, and publishes with some of the most important Italian publishers (e.g. Mondadori Editore, Sergio Bonelli Editore). In 2014 he was the first Italian author to compete at the Bram Stoker Award.

In 2014 he co-founded Acheron Books (www.acheronbooks.com), the only Italian publisher which publishes the best of Italian speculative fiction in English language.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

SH: I’m Samuel Marolla and I’m an Italian speculative fiction writer. I was born in Milan, where I live. I’ve published novels, short stories and comic books too for several Italian publishers, small and big, in Italian and in English language. I’m the first Italian writer to have partecipated at the Bram Stoker Award (2013 edition). In 2014 I co-founded Acheron Books (www.acheronbooks), a digital publishing house with the mission of sharing Italian speculative fiction worldwide, in English language.

Q: Tell us a little about the story selected for the anthology & what this story means to you & what it’s inspiration was.

SH: “Black Tea” is a horror tale and it’s a very lucky one. In 2013 participated at the Bram Stoker Award and it received a Honorable Mention by Ellen Datlow. And now is going to be published by Apex! It’s the story about an ancient mansion, in the suburbs of Milan, where lives a nice, old lady. If you enter the old house, she offer you a black tea and some biscuits. Then, you start to forget everything about you, and about the reason you are there. And you discover that is not so easy to leave the place…

Q: Why do you write in the genre that you do?

SH: I write all kind of speculative fiction but horror is my favorite stuff. Don’t know why. When I was a child, during the summer my parents leave me in an primary school where they used to work. I’ve the habit of wandering, alone, in this huge, labyrinthine, empty school, exactly like Danny in The Shining but without tricycle. I was totally frightened by every shadows and every noises in that silent and spectrale place. But I was exited, too. And I started to create stories in my mind. HORROR stories, of course.

Q: What are you working on now & what do you have coming out next?

SH: The sequel of my horror-noir series Imago Mortis. Then I’ll come back to my dark fantasy series, Enchiridion, set in the fantastic world of Ludovico Ariosto (The Frenzy of Orlando).

Q: Who are some of your favourite writers?

SH: Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, RE Howard, Cornell Woolrich, Dino Buzzati, Giorgio Scerbanenco.

Q: What or who do you want to be next lifetime?

SH: A black and white character in a novel of Cornell Woolrich. But with a happy ending, this time.


SATHYA STONE

Sathya Stone is Sri Lankan, drink a lot of tea, and writes science fiction because she must get some use out of her engineering degree.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

SS: I write under the name Sathya Stone, I’m Sri Lankan, and I drink a lot of tea. My dearest wish is to become a polyglot, but progress on that front is slow, sadly.

Q: Tell us a little about the story selected for the anthology & what this story means to you & what it’s inspiration was.

SS: This story, “Jinki and the Paradox,” was inspired by years of studying maths, probably! I’m hardly the first person to notice how all your lovely, neat equations make perfect, elegant sense on the page but as soon as you take them off the page, it hurts your brain to understand what’s even happening. I do try my best not to conclude that reality is wrong and my equations are right, because I’m pretty sure that’s the path that leads to supervillany.

Honestly, this story was just me being mad about my MPhil course.

Q: Why do you write in the genre that you do?

SS: Because every time I try to write in a different genre, the story somehow ends up turning into science fiction or fantasy. I’ve been trying to write a love story for years, but my brain just goes, you know what will really spice up this intensely fraught love confession? A sudden never-once-foreshadowed appearance from time travelling aliens!

Q: What are you working on now & what do you have coming out next?

SS: I’m working on a novel. Fingers crossed someone will want to publish it! It’s about Artificial Intelligence, which is a subject that can lead to many interesting philosophical and moral questions. Naturally, I chose the ‘adventure and nonstop violence’ school of philosophy. I’m very proud of myself.

Q: Who are some of your favourite writers?

SS: Difficult question! Agatha Christie and Terry Pratchett each take up entire shelves on my bookcase, and Douglas Adams and Emile Brontë would also take up entire shelves if they had written more books. If anyone is interested in reading in Sinhalese, I’d recommend T.B. Ilangaratne and Karunasena Jayalath. At the moment I’m reading Watership Down for the nth time.

Q: What or who do you want to be next lifetime?

SS: As a Buddhist, I don’t want a next lifetime! It seems somewhat unlikely I’m going to achieve nirvana just yet, though.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00007]
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00007]
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00007]

About Kristin Centorcelli (842 Articles)
<p>Kristin Centorcelli is the Associate Editor at SF Signal, proprietor of My Bookish Ways, a reviewer for Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and has also written for Crime Fiction Lover, Criminal Element, and Mystery Scene Magazine. She has been reviewing books since late 2010, in an effort to get through a rather immense personal library, while also discussing it with whoever will willingly sit still (and some that won’t).</p>
%d bloggers like this: