Ban Fiction: 'Then Somebody Bends' by Mazin Saleem

Unnamed

She talked to her pet in pet-voice, smushing its cheeks and speaking close enough that her breath made its nose twitch, the high-pitched ’Ello!, the very rhetorical questions asked in a voice made ogreish by coming from her kiss-shaped mouth, with affirming reflexive declarations, ‘Yes you are!’ and so on. In a handheld mirror she was showing the pet images it couldn’t understand, first among them itself. Then she showed one of the young women who’d once approached the castle. In continuing pet-voice, she acted out an explanation of what the images meant.

 

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'Things flowing and melding together': An interview with EJ Swift and Joey Hi-Fi

Paris AdriftWe've gone large on Paris Adrift, but, well - it deserves it. The smart, twisty, beautiful and inspiring science fiction novel that kicks off 2018 with a bang.

The words are pretty great, and they're accompanied by a cover by one of our all time-favourites (and former resident contributor!): Joey Hi-Fi. Taking advantage of the situation (as one does), we asked both the author and the artist a few questions...

We've kept this spoiler free, but you may want to check out the first chapter. And if you have any questions, join in the hashtag at #ParisAdrift, or fire away to @catamaroon and @joeyhifi.

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EJ, what was the process in approaching Paris Adrift? How'd you go about the messy task of plotting/composing a novel that skips around in time?

EJ: I’d wanted to write about Paris since I spent 18 months living there after university, but it was the experience of working the night shift and having your body clock completely reversed that really sparked the idea of Paris Adrift. Time travel was a way to explore a lifestyle that felt at times surreal, and also some of the city’s fascinating history.

As for plotting - let’s just say it involved hair-tearing and the shape of the book changed a lot along the way. 

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Fiction: 'Paris Adrift' (Extract) by E.J. Swift

Paris AdriftParis AdriftPrague, 2318

The explosions have stopped, and in their absence  a  raw  quiet unfolds. The bunker feels empty and cold, as if the people it harbours are already dead and have been for some time. Outside, what looks like snow is falling. It is not snow. Figures lurch past the cameras, sudden ghosts, there then gone. Inga breathes out. Breathes mist. In the confinement of the underground space, she listens to her thoughts detonating one by one.

This is the calm before the storm.

This time—this storm—will be the end.

There is a chance to fix this, but it means breaking everything they believe in. All that they’ve worked and sacrificed to preserve.

“The heating’s gone.”

That’s Toshi, the eldest of them.

Inga looks about the bunker, observing her depleted crew.  Only   a handful of history’s incumbents remain. Some have died during their travels through time, or have taken their own lives. Most have been buried never knowing the truth about their nature—perhaps they are the lucky ones. Others are yet to be born. Might never be born, now. Those too, she envies. What is left of the House of Janus is a world-weary collective, traumatised by experience and the implausibility of what has happened to them.

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'What Men Read in Hospitals' (1918)

Poppy

What a man reads in a hospital depends on two things: the man himself and the supply of books

To put a man to bed does not change him fundamentally. His education, tastes and habits remain unaltered when he lays aside his uniform and dons pajamas and a bathrobe. His reading will be influenced by all his personal endowments and qualities.

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'I wish I could've been in Alien': An interview with Mark Hamill (1980)

Trash Compactor[He hates the word 'genre', loves Alien and makes poop jokes. This 1980 interview between Empire Strikes Back-era Mark Hamill and Starburst reaffirms why we love the guy so much. -- PK]

Star-wars-episode-v-the-empire-strikes-back-lgI asked him if being a fan of the genre meant that working on the Star Wars films was a real pleasure for him.

Yeah, it really is. I've done a lot of work on different television shows that I wouldn't allow to be beamed into my house but they were just jobs I did as an actor. But luckily for me I love to work in this — I hate the word genre — but genre.

But wasn't he getting tired of devoting so much of his career to the Star Wars movies. After all, it had started for him back in 1976. Wasn't he just a little weary of the whole thing now?

No, not at all - really! First of all I think in Empire the story is just beginning to emerge. They laid the groundwork in the first one but now we can develop the story and the characters. Star Wars was very emotional but it was a much more visually orientated experience. I mean, for instance, the exalted feeling you get when we blow up the Death Star is a very mechanical manipulation of the emotions but in Empire we have to rely on the character revelations as the emotional climax.

There was a kid at the media screening here of Empire who was just in tears at the end of it and he was saying to me. It's not true, it's not true . . . you lost! And I was saying to him that I didn't lose. It was a moral victory! It was a moral victory that Luke didn't join with Darth Vader.

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Ban Fiction: 'The Empire Cashes Back' by Mazin Saleem

Economies Of Scale

“I shan’t thank you for coming to see me. Your report stated, bragged even, that you’d chosen to use the proper channels rather than - what exactly? I didn’t know any improper channels still existed. No don’t look worried, I’d been meaning anyway to have this chat.

“You’ve questioned our spending over - forget the last quarter - the last four decades. Implied, a question of priorities. You’ve stated, with I detect some polite horror, that the first station cost 10 trillion, or ‘thereabouts’. A lot hangs on that word. The real figure was closer to 100.

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A Matter of Oaths: An interview with Helen S. Wright

Power by Paul Calle (1963)A Matter of Oaths highres When A Matter of Oaths was first published in 1987, featuring an older woman as a space captain and centring on two men of colour in an intense, romantic relationship, it was a hard sell: 'I have a rejection letter from a well-known editor saying that they wouldn’t buy the book because the gay relationship was so integral to the plot, even though they weren’t a homophobe, nor were many in the SF audience (!). Apparently, I wasn’t "breaking new ground" and risked "alienating some readers."'

The book follows Rafe, a young webber with a mysterious past, who joins the crew of Bhattya, a patrol ship under the command of Rallya, an aging, grumpy, and talented woman in denial about the end of her career. As an oath breaker, Rafe is shunned by many, but aboard Bhattya, not only is he given a second chance, he also finds support in his quest for his own identity.

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From Christie to Bolaño: Adam Roberts' Five Favourite Puzzle Whodunits

Adam Roberts - The Real-Town Murders

I love puzzle whodunits. On account of my crime-novel-loving mother I grew up in a house full of them, which meant that—when I ran out of SF titles—I would pick a green-liveried penguin off the shelf and read that instead: Margery Allingham; Michael Innes; Ngaio Marsh; Edmund Crispin. And of course Agatha Christie. I read huge numbers of such books growing up. I still read them today.

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Small Press Shakedown: Michael Curran of Tangerine Press

Tangerine Press
The UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week our featured publisher is Tangerine Press.

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Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?

My name is Michael Curran and I founded Tangerine Press in 2006. The original plan was to publish limited edition, handbound books of poetry and prose by authors I admired, whether they be known or unknown, dead or alive. I was quite happy doing this for 7 years – binding books in the evenings after work and at weekends – until January 26th 2013.

That date is burned into my memory because for the first time in my life I called an ambulance: for myself. Following a serious back injury and subsequently losing feeling in my left leg from the knee down, then the whole leg, I had to reconsider my future. There was plenty of time for that: I was laid up for 3 months, in and out of hospital, etc. Dropping six Tramadol every morning just to make the day bearable. Going back to The Building Game – I was a self-employed carpenter for 16 years – wasn’t an option.

So the future suddenly had to be Tangerine.

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