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Pat Cadigan: The ‘Alien Contact’ Interview

This month, SF Signal is featuring guest posts and interviews with the authors of Alien Contact edited by Marty Halpern. Today, we’re pleased to bring you an interview with contributing author Pat Cadigan!

SF SIGNAL: Hi, Pat! What’s the appeal of Alien Contact stories for you?

Pat Cadigan: I love a good alien contact story. The most intriguing thing someone can say to you is, ‘You will meet a stranger’-and the stranger, the better! Personally, I’ve always actively courted the unknown. With mixed results, of course, but it gives me something to write about.

SFS: What was the first “alien contact” story you read that made a lasting impression?

PC: You could ask me that question every day for seven days and get eight different answers. Today, I’m saying Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. It was a seminal work for me as a writer: science fiction handling adult issues in a serious way. Brain food. And I did get a kick out of the bit where the alien comments on science fiction, saying something to the effect of, “Just reading this, anyone would think Earth is the crossroads of the universe.” Dry and potent as a perfect martini.

SFS: What made you decide to focus on Angel in your story?

PC: Um, because that’s who the story is about?

Seriously, though: Angel came together out of a combination of ingredients–the desire to write an alien who was just human enough to go unnoticed most of the time and would usually be misunderstood when he was noticed. He doesn’t want to be noticed so he sticks to the extreme fringe of the society where he has landed, gravitating to someone who doesn’t seem to belong there any more than Angel.

SFS: What’s the most alien kind of creature you can imagine?

PC: A Tory MP and/or PM. Seriously, WTF is up with them? The most alien kind of creature I can imagine is someone who can look at the length and breadth of human misery and fail to see that nobody lives in poverty because they’re too lazy to work. You don’t expect aliens to understand-they’re not from around here, it makes sense. The latest economic crisis doesn’t make any sense.

SFS: What projects are you currently working on?

PC: I’ve been working mainly on short things for the past year due to an extreme time shortage. I have two kids-one is 26, the other is 91. The 26-year-old is a brilliant musician-composer, with a day job that contributes to making the world a better place for those who need the help. The 91-year-old has a lot of problems. But someday I’ll finish one of the novels I’m working on.

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