Silvia Moreno-Garcia was born in the north of Mexico and moved to Canada several years ago. She lives in beautiful, rainy British Columbia with her husband, children and two cats. She writes fantasy, magic realism and Science Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Fantasy Magazine, Futurismic, Shimmer and Tesseracts Thirteen. With the help of editor Paula R. Stiles and a band of eldritch writers she publishes the online zine Innsmouth Free Press. Silvia is also working on her first novel and be found online at www.silviamoreno-garcia.com.
Charles Tan: Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. What’s the appeal of science fiction for you?
Silvia Moreno-Garcia: The sense of surprise. Why didn’t I think of that? How didn’t I see that possibility?
CT: What made you decide to write science fiction?
SM-G: Well, I once said I wanted to be on the cover of something with a big phallic spaceship. In all seriousness, I never set out to write science fiction. I never thought I could. I’ve ended writing science fiction stories because the tale demanded it. Sometimes I can’t figure out what I’ve written. Classifying it can be a bit of a hassle.
CT: Considering that you’re the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, what is it about optimistic science fiction that appeals to you in contrast to horror. Is there any overlap between the two, or are they complete opposites?
SM-G: Lovecraft is pretty much the opposite of optimistic. It’s all about a protagonist in an uncaring world and things don’t generally go well for said protagonist. Can horror be optimistic? It depends. There’s certainly some optimistic stuff. You fight the vampire, stake it and everyone is happy. I tend to like the fight the vampire stuff. I hate it when the protagonists realize the house is possessed by ancient Summerian demons and sit down and do nothing. Carpe demon, people! I like a wide variety of stuff, so I like my optimism and my bleak horror. Sometimes I need one more than the other.
CT: Did you find the criteria for the Shine anthology difficult? What made you decide to submit to the anthology?
SM-G: Somewhat difficult, as I am probably the most optimistic downer you can find. I tend to always consider the worst possible scenarios of everything. On the other hand, the anthology appealed to me because I don’t necessarily think the future is apocalyptic and we’ll all be barbequing our neighbours in thirty years to survive the great post-nuclear famine. It’s based on personal experience. I’ve gone without running water for days and watched ash from the Popocatepetl fall over the cars instead of snow. I once saw the water from a hotel rooftop pool splash into the air and run down onto the street after an earthquake. It wasn’t that bad of a quake either. My dad once pulled a couch from the garbage and that’s how we got a living room. Really , folks: it’ll be fine, even if we face the great zombie war. I was talking to Mexican science fiction writer Gabriel Trujillo the other day and he was saying Mexican science fiction is characterized by a nervous tic, a desire to impose our black humour on the future. I’m very tickish and wanted to write something optimistic that was still moi. Plus, I like a good dare.
CT: “Seeds” reads like a story that could actually happen in the immediate future. What’s your opinion of genetically-engineered crops and seeds? Do you think the future described in your story will eventually win out? (As opposed to the genetically-engineered strains that self-destruct.)
SM-G: There were several stories this March talking about how Canada’s flax industry is being threatened by the Triffid. I’m not talking about the plants that chased people around back in the 50s, but a genetically modified form of the crop developed in Saskatchewan ordered destroyed 10 years ago. The European Union, which buys most of Canada’s flax, has a zero-tolerance policy regarding genetically modified organisms and banned Canadian flax. The whole genetically-engineered crop debate has not been solved. Stances in Europe, Canada and the United States vary widely. The Triffid case shows that, even when we want to get rid of a specific type of crop, it can be hard to do so once it’s been introduced into the environment. It also highlights the fact that this kind of technology may not be a magic, quick fix for farmers. I bet Triffid was developed with the best intentions and yet it’s not helping Canadian flax farmers right now. It’s not trying to devour the farmers, but it’s not a peachy situation either.
CT: As a writer who writers short fiction and publisher that publishes them, what is it about the short story format that appeals to you?
SM-G: It’s short! One of the problems I have with most fantasy and science fiction novels these days is that they are volume one of a saga of 135. My limited attention span and incapacity to stay still for more than five minutes means I need short, chunky fiction. It’s like TV. Sometimes you don’t want a six hour mini-series. You just want an episode of The Golden Girls.
CT: Do you think science fiction is capable of changing the world? How?
SM-G: By inspiring us, by warning us and by moving us. My son was making a “clean-energy machine” out of Legos and assorted kitchen trinkets the other day. Maybe he’ll build one for real when he grows up. It could happen.
CT: Anything else you want to plug?
SM-G: The horror zine I produce together with Paula R. Stiles, Innsmouth Free Press. Lots of tentacles and fishy folks if you like them cosmic creatures. Oh, and check out my page at www.silviamoreno-garcia.com/blog. Maybe read a story or two.