Lavie Tidhar

photo by Kevin Nixon (c) 2013 Future Publishing

Lavie Tidhar‘s most recent novels are The Violent Century (published in the US next year by Thomas Dunne Books) and A Man Lies Dreaming (published in October in the UK from Hodder & Stoughton). He won the World Fantasy, British Fantasy and BSFA Awards. Lavie ran the World SF Blog for four years and is the editor of The Apex Book of World SF series of international speculative short fiction, of which Volume 3 just came out. Originally from Israel, he currently lives in London.


Charles Tan: Hi Lavie! This will be the third Apex Book of World SF anthology. How is it different from the previous volumes? Is there a specific region or regions you wanted to focus on in this volume?

Lavie Tidhar: It’s a good question – to me, in a way, the three volumes present one continuous project, a single work – a snapshot of international speculative fiction in the last decade or so. That is, my goal was and remains to read widely, to select stories that I liked and that I wanted to share, without any story standing for some half-mythical “representation” of an entire culture or language. They’re individual stories by individual writers from all around the world, and some engage directly with specific cultural questions and some don’t feel the need to do that. If they do constitute an argument at all, it is exactly that, that you can’t narrow down fiction – genre or otherwise – you can’t reduce it to generalities.

Saying all that, it’s been a lot easier since I started editing the series in 2008 or so. One obvious difference in Volume 3 is that the stories are predominantly by women writers – who I think are very much leading the field in short fiction now. The other is that I had more access to more sources, and I’d single out the anthology Afro SF as filling a particularly important niche in that regard. In fact there’s a great range of sources included here.

Other than that, Volume 2 had a lot of shorter stories – here I wanted the freedom to reprint longer works, such as Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s “Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods”, which opens the book, and is a remarkable debut.

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Samit Basu is a writer of books, films and comics. His first novel, The Simoqin Prophecies, published by Penguin India in 2003, when Samit was 23, was the first book in the bestselling Gameworld Trilogy and marked the beginning of Indian English fantasy writing.

Samit’s other novels include Turbulence, Resistance, Stoob, and Terror on the Titanic. Turbulence was published in the UK in 2012 and in the US in 2013 to rave reviews. It won Wired‘s Goldenbot Award as one of the books of 2012 and was superheronovels.com’s Book of the Year for 2013. All five of Basu’s novels have been Indian bestsellers.

Samit was born in Calcutta, educated in Calcutta and London, and currently divides his time between Delhi and Mumbai. He can be found on Twitter, @samitbasu, and at samitbasu.com.

Samit was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about his new novels, being a trendsetter within Indian publishing, and more!

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Marie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she spends her time practicing piano, studying karate, and playing a variety of role-playing games.

Her many publications include over forty short stories, the Onyx Court series, and A Natural History of Dragons. Her second novel in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series, The Tropic of Serpents, hit bookstore shelves on March 4th 2014.
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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Carrie Cuinn on “Fish”

Carrie Cuinn is an author, editor, bibliophile, modernist, and geek. She writes speculative fiction – including science fiction and apocalypse stories and magic realism and fucked up fairy tales – and non-fiction on a range of academic and technical subjects. FISH is her third published anthology as an editor.

You can find Carrie on Twitter @carriecuinn. Links to her published work, and her writing blog, can be found at www.carriecuinn.com


CHARLES TAN: Hi Carrie, thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, Fish is a peculiar speculative anthology. How did you conceptualize it, decided to dedicate it to your son, and to have a children’s book atmosphere for the book?

CARRIE CUINN: Fish is meant to be the first in a four-part series. I wanted to do a set of anthologies that included a mix of genres but that all together would cover a huge range of stories. I thought that if I could choose themes that were wide enough, I could encompass the kind of variety I like in my own reading. Science fiction, magical realism, interstitial fiction, fantasy… you can find it all in Fish.
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Alex Scarrow used to be a rock guitarist, then he became a graphic artist, then he decided to be a computer-games designer. Finally, he grew up and became an author. He has written a number of successful thrillers and several screenplays, but it’s Young Adult fiction that has allowed him to really have fun with many of the really cool ideas and concepts he was playing around with when designing games.

He lives in Norwich with his family.

You can follow Alex on Twitter @AlexScarrow


Kristin Centorcelli: Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

Alex Scarrow: Well, I’ve been a bit all over the place really. I spent the first ten years out of school chasing a record deal with loads of different rock bands, all of them unsuccessful! In my later 20′s I finally decided it wasn’t going to happen and had to get myself a job. And I got really lucky. I found myself working for a computer games company doing pixel art. I spent ten years in the computer games industry finally ending up as a senior games designer. But then, I found myself getting quite bored with that, eventually migrating to writing short stories, then novels….and eventually getting my first novel published in 2006. Been writing ever since!

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Lavie Tidhar is the World Fantasy Award winning author of Osama, of The Bookman Histories trilogy and many other works. He also won the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, for “Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God”, and was nominated variously for a BSFA, Campbell, Sturgeon and Sidewise awards. He grew up on a kibbutz in Israel and in South Africa but currently resides in London.

Lavie can be found online at lavietidhar.wordpress.com or on twitter as @lavietidhar.

For this interview, Lavie Tidhar talks about the second World SF Travel Fund, the recipients of which are Csilla Kleinheincz and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz.


CHARLES TAN: Hi Lavie! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. For those unfamiliar with the World SF Travel Fund, could you tell us what it is about?

LAVIE TIDHAR: It’s a small initiative, to help people involved in genre fiction – writers, editors, translators, bloggers – from outside of the main Anglophone world travel to a major convention. Predominantly, we have been associated with the World Fantasy Convention, which is a more professionally-aimed convention, and can offer the most benefit.

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Robert Shearman on Remember Why You Fear Me

Robert Shearman has worked as a writer for television, radio and the stage. He was appointed resident dramatist at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter and has received several international awards for his theatrical work, including the Sunday Times Playwriting Award and the Guinness Award for Ingenuity, in association with the Royal National Theatre. His plays have been regularly produced by Alan Ayckbourn, and on BBC Radio by Martin Jarvis. His two series of The Chain Gang, his short story and interactive drama series for the BBC, both won the Sony Award.

However, he is probably best known as a writer for Doctor Who, reintroducing the Daleks for its BAFTA-winning first series, in an episode nominated for a Hugo Award.

His collections of short stories are Tiny Deaths, Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, and Everyone’s Just So So Special. Collectively they have won the World Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Edge Hill Short Story Readers Prize, and the Shirley Jackson Award, celebrating “outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.”

Several stories in this collection have been compiled in annual anthologies as diverse as Best New Horror and Best British Short StoriesDamned if You Don’t was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award; Roadkill, Alice Through the Plastic Sheet, and George Clooney’s Moustache all for the British Fantasy Award. Robert has also been nominated for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award, the most highly prized award for the form in the world.


Charles Tan: Hi Robert! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, in the introduction, Stephen Jones says you don’t write horror or genre. How would you describe your writing?

Robert Shearman:  Thanks for having me!

Oh, I think Steve very much thinks all I write are genre stories – I just never quite saw them that way myself, and it’s caused some very mocking conversations in the pub! (He mocks me, naturally. I daren’t mock Steve. He’s so steeped in the traditions of horror, that mocking him would be terrifying!)

I think I’ve came to  horror rather late, really! I could never watch horror movies as a kid, or even a young adult – I recoil from gore, and the slightest suggestion of Satan-spawned children from The Omen from schoolfriends was enough to give me nightmares. So when I became a writer, I never expected I would gravitate towards horror at all. And I’ve been a full time writer for over twenty years now, but I began in the theatre, writing comedies for the stage. Looking back I can see that they’re pretty dark comedies, but that’s because I’ve got a creepy sense of humour! So when I moved into prose writing some years ago, I brought the same style with me, creating stories that made me chuckle within plots that were somewhat outlandish and bizarre. But it’s a funny thing – what gets laughter from an audience in the dark has a completely different effect from a reader taking your story off the page. Comedy is far more communal, and in groups we’re more inclined to be amused by situations that privately we’d find distressing or shuddersome. But when we read, we read alone – it’s a much more claustrophobic process. I still think of myself as a comedy writer, but I accept that my short stories are much more likely to result in my readers being scared than in having belly laughs – but I’d like them to picture the fact that as I’m writing the stories I’m doing so with the same broad smile on my face you’d get from someone telling you a rather sick joke.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan is the author of nine novels, including The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, along with several volumes collecting her short fiction. She’s a five-time nominee for the World Fantasy Award, two-time nominee for the Shirley Jackson Award, and has been honored by the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. She also writes Alabaster for Dark Horse Comics. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her partner.

SF Signal had the opportunity to talk with several authors involved in the new anthology, After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, and featuring stories asking: If the melt-down, flood, plague, the third World War, new Ice Age, Rapture, alien invasion, clamp-down, meteor, or something else entirely hit today, what would tomorrow look like? Some of the biggest names in YA and adult literature answer that very question in this short story anthology, each story exploring the lives of teen protagonists raised in catastrophe’s wake—whether set in the days after the change, or decades far in the future.


CHARLES TAN: Hi Caitlin! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. For you, how would you define Dyslit or what are its essential characteristics?

CAITLIN R. KIERNAN: Wow. I’ve never before heard the term “Dyslit,” and I don’t think I’m comfortable with it. But I’m not comfortable with most genre categories. Or even the idea of genre. But, that said, writing about dystopian or post-apocalyptic worlds doesn’t appeal to me. I write a lot of it, but it’s not because there’s an appeal. There are many reasons, but that’s not one of them. I’ll pick one at random and say there does seem to be a responsibility to write about what could happen, maybe, if humanity doesn’t take a little more care with its technological advances and population. Generally, I dislike science fiction as a predictive medium, but certain outcomes seem almost inevitable, given the present course of our civilization. Here, obviously, I’m referring to stories that focus on more realistic threats – ecological collapse, global warming and climate change, bioweapons, nuclear war, and so forth. So, yeah, I can say I feel a responsibility to write this sort of fiction, as a warning, and especially as a warning to YA readers. They’re inheriting a pretty messed up world, and they need to know where it might be headed, and how they may be able to avoid the very worst of the consequences of their predecessors’ actions. Maybe they’ll be smarter than us.
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Susan Beth Pfeffer is the author of over 70 books for children and young adults. Her “moon” series has been published in many countries. The first in the series, Life As We Knew It, was a New York Times best selling novel, and has won awards in the United States and Germany.

SF Signal had the opportunity to talk with several authors involved in the new anthology, After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, and featuring stories asking: If the melt-down, flood, plague, the third World War, new Ice Age, Rapture, alien invasion, clamp-down, meteor, or something else entirely hit today, what would tomorrow look like? Some of the biggest names in YA and adult literature answer that very question in this short story anthology, each story exploring the lives of teen protagonists raised in catastrophe’s wake—whether set in the days after the change, or decades far in the future.


CHARLES TAN: Hi Susan! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. For you, how would you define Dyslit or what are its essential characteristics?

SUSAN PFEFFER: I couldn’t begin to define Dyslit and I have no idea what its essential characteristics are. I admit to being functionally illiterate when it comes to such things.

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Nicole Galland is the author of: The Fool’s Tale, Revenge of the Rose, Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade and I, Iago. After growing up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduating with honors from Harvard, she divided most of the next 16 years between California and New York City before returning to the Vineyard to stay. During those 16 years she variously made her living in theatre, screenwriting, magazine publishing, grad-schooling, teaching, temping, and random other enterprises. She is the co-founder of Shakespeare for the Masses, a project that irreverently makes the Bard accessible to the Bardophobics of the world.

[Photo credit: Eli Dagostino]

SF Signal is delighted to have the opportunity to talk with Nicole Galland, author of one of the seven authors of the group-authored trilogy The Mongoliad. She takes time out with us to talk about the evolution of The Mongoliad concept, the delights of cross-country composition via Skype, and how both a methods of writing and storylines evolve over time.


SF SIGNAL: How did the idea of The Mongoliad originally develop?

NICOLE GALLAND: My understanding is that the guys wanted to create a story set in the 1300′s as a screenplay (it was to be called Gallowglass), and somehow that evolved in reverse chronological order to the tumultuous events in Europe, 1241. As that shift was happening, they decided to pursue technological innovation in the way the story was deliverable in non-book form.

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About the Series:

“Fun with Friends” is an SF Signal interview series in which I feature fellow SFF authors from Australia and New Zealand. The format is one interview per month, with no more than five questions per interview, focusing on “who the author is” and “what she/he does” in writing terms.

This month’s guest is Jane Higgins, a New Zealand YA author whose first novel, the future dystopia The Bridge was published in 2011 to critical and popular acclaim.

Allow me to introduce Jane Higgins:

Jane was born, raised, and still resides in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she works as a social science academic, primarily researching on how young people craft identities and create pathways from school to their post-school lives. Growing up in Canterbury, the big skies inspired her love of astronomy and space travel, and she was drawn to the strange worlds of myth, science fiction and fantasy, especially stories by Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula Le Guin.  A few years ago she decided to try writing fiction and wrote a futuristic war story in which the central characters are young people crossing borders and working out where they belong. This initial story, which became The Bridge went on to win the 2010 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing and was both a New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards’ Honor Book, and also “Children’s Choice” book in the YA category, in 2012.  Jane still works as a researcher with young people, still reads, still writes (and still watches Dr. Who.)  She is currently working on a sequel to The Bridge.

To find about more about Jane, see her website, here.


An Interview With Jane Higgins

Helen: The Bridge is future dystopian SF, currently a very popular genre for YA readers, although I suspect that’s not why you wrote it. So why, then: why future dystopia and why YA?

Jane: Why YA? They say you write the books you love to read. I’ve always loved reading, but I think the time in my life when reading was most magical, and when I was most able to get completely lost in a book, was when I was a teenager. I can still remember vividly how I felt reading some of my favourite books back then. I can remember where I was when I read the first page of Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea (in my school library) and when I read the last page of The Lord of the Rings (by gaslight in my parents’ cabin in the mountains of Canterbury). So when I decided to try writing fiction, I gravitated towards the type of story that I loved most when I was growing up.

Why future dystopia? I wanted to write about some young people caught up in a war, as so many are around the world at present. But I didn’t want to import into the story all the current context of a particular war. So I made one up. To do that I took some current trends and pushed them a couple of hundred years into the future. I didn’t sit down and think: “ok, I’m going to write a dystopia,” but it’s not too surprising that when you project trends like global conflict and climate change into the future, things do look fairly grim. But it’s not all grim! I hope that readers find that the book is also about the way friendship and simple human decency make it possible to navigate those challenges.

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Mike Resnick is the winner of 5 Hugos (from a record 36 nominations) a Nebula, and other major awards in the USA, France, Japan, Poland, Croatia, Catalan, and Spain, and has been short-listed in England, Italy and Australia. He is the author of 71 novels, over 250 stories, and 3 screenplays, and is the editor of more than 40 anthologies. His work has been translated into 25 languages, and he is the Guest of Honor at the 2012 World Science Fiction Convention.

SF Signal had the opportunity to talk with him about shared worlds and The Fathomless Abyss, a shared world anthology featuring stories from Mike, Jay Lake, Cat Rambo, Mel Odom, J.M. McDermott, Brad Torgersen and Philip Athans. In The Fathomless Abyss, a bottomless pit opens who-knows-when onto who-knows-where, just long enough for new people from a thousand different worlds and a million different times to fall in and join the fight for survival in a place where the slightest misstep means an everlasting fall into eternity. In this world, the laws of physics work against you, there’s no way out, and time means nothing…


CHARLES TAN: Hi Mike! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how did you get involved with The Fathomless Abyss series?

MIKE RESNICK: Phil had solicited a couple of stories from me at his previous job, we hit it off, and he thought of me when he decided to do the Fathomless Abyss.
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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mats Minnhagen on The Fathomless Abyss

Mats Minnhagen is a Swedish illustrator and concept artist. He has worked for EA Dice, Wizards of the Coast and many others. Currently he is working freelance with a variety of book-, game- and popular science illustrations.

SF Signal had the opportunity to talk with him about shared worlds and The Fathomless Abyss, a shared world anthology for which he illustrated the cover and featuring stories from Mike Resnick, Jay Lake, Cat Rambo, Mel Odom, J.M. McDermott, Brad Torgersen and Philip Athans. In The Fathomless Abyss, a bottomless pit opens who-knows-when onto who-knows-where, just long enough for new people from a thousand different worlds and a million different times to fall in and join the fight for survival in a place where the slightest misstep means an everlasting fall into eternity. In this world, the laws of physics work against you, there’s no way out, and time means nothing…


CHARLES TAN: Hi Mats, thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how did you get involved with The Fathomless Abyss series?

MATS MINNHAGEN: Hi Charles, thanks for having me here on SF Signal. I got involved with the project when Philip contacted me one day about it. He and a bunch of other great authors were working on this bottomless hole world where people and creatures from all times and places fall down and make a living together. Vertical cities, flying monsters, pre-historic and modern technologies mixed – it sounded like a lot of fun!
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