SFF Masterclass still accepting applications

The SFF are still accepting applications for the 2014 Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass, an enriching experience for anyone interested in improving their writing about Science Fiction and Fantasy. Please send a sample of writing and a one-page cv to farah.sf@gmail.com.

Please share this as widely as possible. Thanks.

The importance of Writing Groups

Whether you’re starting out as a writer or you are someone with more experience, having a support network to read, critique and advise you on your work can be hugely valuable.

Over at Fantasy Faction, a great website filled with reviews and articles, Adrian Faulkner has taken a look at the subject of writing groups, interviewing the BSFA’s own Terry Jackman about the Orbits group.

Check out the articles here:




September BSFA London Meeting: Gareth L. Powell Interviewed by Jon Oliver


Location: Upstairs, The Artillery Arms*, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND


On Wednesday 25th of September 2013, Gareth L. Powell (author of The Recollection, Ack-Ack Macaque and Hive Monkey) will be interviewed by Jonathan Oliver (Editor-in-Chief of Solaris Books).

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6 pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Map is here.


30th October 2013- Mary Robinette Kowal , interviewed by Virginia Preston **

27th November 2013- Dr. Who Magazine, interviewed by Graham Sleight

As is customary, there will be no event in December.

*Please note that this is our second meeting at a NEW venue for London meetings! There was also some concern about the lack of vegetarian options at the pub, but there is the lovely Carnevale Mediterranean Vegetarian Restaurant nearby.

**Note that this is a month with five Wednesdays. The meeting will be on the last Wed. of the month.


FUTURA Competition Winner – Plus A Guide To Wonderful Wolverhampton!

Congratulations to BSFA member Nicholas Whyte who won two free tickets to FUTURA in our latest competition! Well done from all of us here at the BSFA.

With the FUTURA convention coming to Wolverhampton (my old stomping ground) in just under a fortnight’s time, just what can I tell con-goers about the place?

Futura competition_html_43445988

Wolverhampton is now officially in the Black Country – although people have been arguing about that since the name came about. The most significant speculative fiction to be inspired by the region’s grimy history is easily Lord of the Rings. J. R. R. Tolkien spent his formative years in the pretty rural town of Sarehole before moving to Moseley, and was aware of the grim Black Country in the distance. Though the horrors of the World War I trenches were also influential, the link between “the land of shadow,” the home of “dark smithies” that he called Mordor (The Black Land in Elvish) and the Black Country is clearly made. And as Mordor has become the touchstone for every shadowy, grim place in fantastical literature derived from Tolkien, every bog of eternal stench, then the Black Country is surely the source of them all.

Out of Darkness Cometh Light

Wolverhampton’s motto is “Out of Darkness Cometh Light”, and since the millennium, a growing number of writing groups and initiatives have sprung up within the city, offering a supportive network for writers.

On the site of the old Chubb lock-making factory, Wolverhampton’s Light House has become a hub for the city’s creative sorts. Featuring an independent 2-screen cinema, gallery space and the Lock Works Café, it frequently hosts exhibitions, festivals, craft fairs and comedy and spoken word nights.

And now FUTURA comes to Wolverhampton; an absolute treat for enthusiasts of speculative fiction. And a not so small part of me hopes some post-industrial heritage-inspired writing comes out of the event to really put the place on the map in terms of science fiction.

One Ring-Road to Rule Them All!

Visitors to Wolverhampton these days will find a city combining pleasing Georgian architecture with a modern, busy pedestrianized shopping centre and a good old-fashioned market quarter. So if you’re coming to Wolverhampton for FUTURA, here’s my guide to places to go to make the most of your weekend.

Places to Visit

If you can nip out to visit Wolverhampton Art Gallery on Lichfield Street you will find all sorts from contemporary exhibitions to oil paintings, and there’s a gallery dedicated to Pop Art. The cake in the cafe is excellent, too. Open Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm, free admission. Linger outside on the hour to see the bizarre clock do its thing!

Over on Finchfield Road, you will find the beautiful Bantock House Museum – an Edwardian house surrounded by formal gardens and acres of parkland. Great for a picnic, but they also have a cafe run by the same people as the art gallery – so, yes, the cake is excellent. Open Tuesday – Sunday: 11am – 5pm, free admission.

St Peter’s Collegiate Church, just behind the art gallery, dates mainly from the 16th Century, though the chancel was completed in 1867. Some of the building has been there since 1425. The Anglo-Saxon cross base out in the churchyard is a must-see.

Slightly further afield, Wightwick Manor out on Wightwick Bank is a delightful Victorian arts and crafts house, built by the Mander family of philanthropic industrialists after being inspired by a lecture by Oscar Wilde on ‘the House Beautiful’.  Inside, you will find their collection of Pre-Raphaelite art and see furniture and decorations by William Morris. Prices £4.80 child, £9.50 adult with gift aid to see the whole house and garden. The garden and tea room is open from 11am on that weekend, and the house from noon, closing at 5pm.

Food and Drink

Venturing into town for a beer you might like to try The Posada on Lichfield Street, a proper old-fashioned real ale pub. Unfortunately it doesn’t offer food.

If rock, metal, Goth etc is your thing, then you have to go to The Giffard Arms on Victoria Street. Looks scary, actually pretty friendly. No food here either, though.

The Hogshead on Stafford Street on the other hand does do food, and also serves real ale. Gets very busy, though! Quite popular with students.

Close to the station on Corn Hill is Holdens pub The Great Western, with excellent guest ales and nice food. Recommended!

Travelling further out, try The Crooked House, 3.5 miles away in Gornal. A quirky building with fantastic beer and excellent locally sourced food.

Wolverhampton has an abundance of curry houses. A lot of people like the rough and ready cheapness of Jivans on Broad Street, but if eating off paper plates isn’t for you there are plenty of other places, particularly on Cleveland street; a good central one is The New Spice on School Street. Many good Indian restaurants are out of the town centre – you could also try Indigo on the Warstones Road, Shimla on Stafford Road, Fordhouses, or Penn Tandoori, Lower Penn.

If you just want a nice cup of tea and a cake try the gallery, or Madame Clarke’s on King Street.


Wolverhampton has a brilliant market square and indoor market, where you can purchase faggots, scratchings and grey peas and bacon if you so wish! Below the market is an antiques centre where you can pick up vintage clothes and accessories, knick knacks, collector toys and memorabilia, vinyl records and second hand books. It’s open 8.30am – 4.30pm on Saturdays.

More second hand books can be found at The Old Bookshop on Bath Street, near the brewery.

There are also loads of alternative/vintage clothing stores. Look out for Penny Farthing, Nefaria, Rowfers, Trisha’s and Equinox.

I look forward to seeing you in Wolverhampton!


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Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now: Terry Pratchett First Novel Shortlist Announced

Yet more awards news, award-watchers… this time for the Terry Pratchett Prize’s First Novel Award – aka Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now.


The prize was first launched two years ago, with a prize of £20,000 for previously unpublished novelists. Sir Terry Pratchett said at the time that he was looking for “stories set on Earth, although it may be an Earth that might have been, or might yet be, one that has gone down a different leg of the famous trousers of time [...] the possibilities are literally endless, but remember, it’s all on Earth. Maybe the continents will be different and the climate unfamiliar, but the physics will be the same as ours. What goes up must come down, ants are ant-sized because if they were any bigger their legs wouldn’t carry them. In short, the story must be theoretically possible on some version of the past, present or future of a planet Earth.”

The shortlisted novels and  novelists this year, drawn from over 500 entrants, are:

The Unspoken Death of the Amazing Flying Boy by Jean Burdett

Bloodline by Sophie Constable

The Hive by Alexander Maskill

The Way Through the Woods by Robin Pearson

A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin

The Shadows of Annwn by Catherine Whittle

The judging panel is comprised of Sir Terry Pratchett, Rob Wilkins, Editorial Director Simon Taylor, Publicist Lynsey Dalladay and Alex Veasey from The Forbidden Planet. A winner will be announced on the 31st May.

Iain Banks Diagnosed With Terminal Cancer

At the BSFA, we were all extremely saddened to hear of Iain Banks’ illness when he released a statement yesterday to tell everyone that he has been diagnosed with cancer of the gall bladder.

Iain M. Banks has been Director of the BSFA, and his novels Excession and Feersum Endjinn have won the BSFA Award for Best Novel. He is a writer of whom we at the BSFA are all very fond, and not just for the words he has published, so this news has come as a terrible shock to us. We wish Iain and his family all the best and wish them warmth and happiness.

Iain’s statement can be seen here but is reprinted in full below.

I am officially Very Poorly.

After a couple of surgical procedures, I am gradually recovering from jaundice caused by a blocked bile duct, but that – it turns out – is the least of my problems.

I first thought something might be wrong when I developed a sore back in late January, but put this down to the fact I’d started writing at the beginning of the month and so was crouched over a keyboard all day.  When it hadn’t gone away by mid-February, I went to my GP, who spotted that I had jaundice.  Blood tests, an ultrasound scan and then a CT scan revealed the full extent of the grisly truth by the start of March.

I have cancer.  It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term.

The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year.  So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.

As a result, I’ve withdrawn from all planned public engagements and I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps).  By the time this goes out we’ll be married and on a short honeymoon.  We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing friends and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us.  Meanwhile my heroic publishers are doing all they can to bring the publication date of my new novel forward by as much as four months, to give me a better chance of being around when it hits the shelves.

There is a possibility that it might be worth undergoing a course of chemotherapy to extend the amount of time available.  However that is still something we’re balancing the pros and cons of, and anyway it is out of the question until my jaundice has further and significantly, reduced.

Lastly, I’d like to add that from my GP onwards, the professionalism of the medics involved – and the speed with which the resources of the NHS in Scotland have been deployed – has been exemplary, and the standard of care deeply impressive.   We’re all just sorry the outcome hasn’t been more cheerful.

A website is being set up where friends, family and fans can leave messages for me and check on my progress.  It should be up and running during this week and a link to it will be on my official website at www.iain-banks.net as soon as it’s ready.

Iain Banks


Angry Robot Signs Tim Waggoner’s Brand New Urban Fantasy

Angry Robot, publisher of cutting-edge SF, F and WTF?! fiction, is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of a new two-book Urban Fantasy series by Tim Waggoner, author of the hugely popular Nekropolis saga.

The deal was brokered between Tim’s agent Cherry Weiner of the Cherry Weiner Literary Agency and Angry Robot’s Senior Editor, Lee Harris for worldwide English, translation and audio rights.

It’s Men In Black meets The Sandman. Meet the fine men and women of the NightWatch: a supernatural agency dedicated to hunting down rogue nightmares that escape from other realms when people dream about them, while ensuring that other dream-folk are allowed to live among the regular, human population… as long as they play by the rules.

The first book in the series – Night Terrors – will be published in the summer of 2014, with a follow-up volume scheduled for early 2015.

Tim Waggoner said: “One of the many wonderful things about Angry Robot is that they don’t publish cookie-cutter fiction. They seek out the different, the unusual, and – in my case – the downright weird. It’s a joy to be working with these mad geniuses again.”

Angry Robot Senior Editor Lee Harris said: “Tim’s Nekropolis was one of the first books we published when we launched Angry Robot, and it has been popular with our readers ever since. I’m hugely looking forward to our working with him again more than 100 books later!”

Find more about Tim Waggoner at www.timwaggoner.com

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

throne of the crescent moon uk

In his first novel, Saladin Ahmed has created a fascinating story full of sword fights, magic and murder. A stunning tale set within a fascinating world that promises to become a great series.

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed’s sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near-mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man’s title. She lives only to avenge her father’s death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father’s killer. Until she meets Raseed.

February BSFA London Meeting: Elizabeth Hand interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn

Issue12_hand_287x360Location: The Cellar Bar, The Argyle Public House, 1 Greville Street (off Leather Lane), London EC1N 8PQ

On Wednesday 27th February 2013Elizabeth Hand (author of, among others, Waking the Moon, Black LightMortal Love, and Radiant Days) will be interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn (Professor of Literary History at Anglia Ruskin University).

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6 pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Map is here. Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane (Central Line).

20th March 2013* – BSFA Awards discussion
24th April 2013 – Lavie Tidhar; interviewer TBC
22nd May 2013** – Aliette de Bodard; interviewer TBC

* Note that due to the proximity of Easter to the fourth Wednesday of the month, this meeting will be held on the third Wednesday.

** Note that this is a month with five Wednesdays. The meeting will be on the fourth, not the last, Wednesday of the month.

January BSFA London Meeting: Dave Hutchinson interviewed by Ian Whates

n512216661_1491017_330nnnLocation: The Cellar Bar, The Argyle Public House, 1 Greville Street (off Leather Lane), London EC1N 8PQ

On Wednesday 30th January 2013, Dave Hutchinson (writer, editor and journalist; author of The Villages, 2001, and The Push, 2009) will be interviewed by Ian Whates (chair of the BSFA).

Please note the change of date – this meeting is taking place on the fifth Wednesday.

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6 pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Map is here. Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane (Central Line).

27th February 2013Elizabeth Hand, interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn
20th March 2013* – BSFA Awards discussion
24th April 2013Lavie Tidhar; interviewer TBC

* Note that due to the proximity of Easter to the fourth Wednesday of the month, this meeting will be held on the third Wednesday.

Hunger by Melvin Burgess released on 17th January

‘For the living, life. For the dead, the hunger that never ends.’


Carnegie Medal winner Melvin Burgess’ new novella, Hunger will hit the shelves next week and promises to be a nail-biter of a horror story. With the author himself claiming to be suffering nightmares after finishing the project, Hammer Hardbacks dare you to give it a read…

When Beth wakes up one morning covered in dirt, she puts it down to an extreme case of sleep-walking, but when reports of a desecrated grave start to circulate, her night-time wanderings take on a sinister air.

Soon the city is being plagued by strange sightings and sudden disappearances.

Beth knows that something is changing within her. Something that’s filling her with an urgent, desperate hunger that demands to be satisfied – at any cost…

2013 London BSFA meeting schedule

We’ve now got the details for the first six months of the 2013 programme for the BSFA London meetings, and it looks really strong to our eyes:

30th January 2013* – Dave Hutchinson, interviewed by Ian Whates
27th February 2013 – Elizabeth Hand, interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn
20th March 2013** – BSFA Awards discussion
24th April 2013 – Lavie Tidhar – interviewer TBC
22nd May 2013* – Aliette de Bodard – interviewer TBC
26th June 2013 – Catherynne M. Valente – interviewer TBC

* Note that this is a month with five Wednesdays. The meeting will be on the fourth, not the last, Wednesday of the month.
** Note that due to the proximity of Easter to the fourth Wednesday of the month, this will be held on the third Wednesday.

November BSFA London Meeting: Paul Cornell interviewed by Roz Kaveney

Author photo by Rob Monk, copyright SFX Magazine, 2012

Location: The Cellar Bar, The Argyle Public House, 1 Greville Street (off Leather Lane), London EC1N 8PQ

On Wednesday 28th November 2012, Paul Cornell (novelist, and comics and TV writer) will be interviewed by Roz Kaveney (critic and author), mostly about his new novel, London Calling.

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6 pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Map is here. Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane (Central Line).

(There is no BSFA Meeting in December).
23rd January 2013* – Dave Hutchinson, interviewed by Ian Whates
27th February 2013Elizabeth Hand, interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn
20th March 2013** – BSFA Awards discussion

* Note that this is a month with five Wednesdays. The meeting will be on the fourth, not the last, Wednesday of the month.
** Note that due to the proximity of Easter to the fourth Wednesday of the month, this will be held on the third Wednesday.

Lavie Tidhar wins World Fantasy Award

Lavie Tidhar’s novel Osama has won the 2012 World Fantasy Award for best novel beating Stephen King and George RR Martin in the process.

Published by Solaris Osama was born out of Israeli-born Lavie’s unique connection with the well-known attacks by Al-Qaeda – he was in Dar-es-Salaam during the American embassy bombings in 1998, stayed in the same hotel as the Al Qaeda operatives in Nairobi, and narrowly avoided both the 2005 London, King’s Cross and 2004 Sinai attacks.

“I am absolutely delighted for Lavie,” said Solaris editor-in-chief Jonathan Oliver. “This award is well-deserved and it is heartening to see the judges of the World Fantasy Awards choose a controversial and challenging title in what was already a very strong field. Lavie continues to a writer who pushes the boundaries of genre and is one of the most exciting writers around in any field.”

Paul S. Kemp set to write third book for Angry Robot

Paul S. Kemp, author of The Hammer and the Blade, the first in his Tales of Egil and Nix series of sword and sorcery fantasy adventure novels has signed up with Angry Robot to pen another book.

The second in the series, A Discourse in Steel, will be published in June of next year with the final installment, tentatively titled A Conversation in Blood, scheduled for Summer 2014. Angry Robot Editor Lee Harris was quoted as saying: “The Hammer and the Blade has proven to be one of our most popular titles of 2012, so it was an easy decision to ask Paul to write more in that world. Sword and Sorcery is alive and well and living in Paul S Kemp’s brilliant Tales of Egil and Nix series.”

Paul S. Kemp gave his own thoughts on the matter: “I don’t know about you, but my pink parts are all tingly! Wait, is that too much information? Uh, sorry. So, anyway, continuing my relationship with the metallic overlords? Check. Writing more stories in the sword and sorcery sub-genre I love? Double check. The long and short of it? I’m smiling. Hugely. I’ve had so much fun writing about Egil and Nix, and have had such positive feedback from readers who’ve had a blast, too, that I’m just delighted to have the opportunity to write more of their adventures. Huzzah!”

Ernie Cline: ‘Geeking out transcends all boundaries’

I recently had the great pleasure of reading Ready Player One, the debut novel by Ernest Cline and was so enthralled by the story that I felt compelled to ask the author a few questions.  The book is an action packed adventure set within a world that is as much ruled by virtual reality as by the grim future its protagonist lives within and it is all wrapped up in a nostalgia for the 1980′s that is so perfectly handled that it is, quite literally, one of the best books I’ve read this year. Oh, and he owns his own supped up DeLorean – it doesn’t get any better!

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. 

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.   

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 

A world at stake.

A quest for the ultimate prize.

Are you ready?


BSFA – The near future world you created in your novel has some intriguing characteristics, especially the ‘stacks’ where Wade lives. What was your inspiration for these deft touches?

Ernie Cline – I was inspired by a lot of my favorite science fiction novels and films, as well as by the research I did into Peak Oil and Climate Change. The Stacks were inspired by the favelas in Brazil, and by my own experiences with trailer parks.

Can you give us a little insight into the genesis of Ready Player One and how it evolved?

EC – The initial idea came from imagining a Willie Wonka-eque video game designer who held a golden ticket-style contest inside his greatest video game. Everything grew out of that first idea. Then I began to imagine what sort of puzzles and riddles my eccentric game designer would leave behind to choose a worthy successor, and that was when I hit upon the idea of having them center on some of my own passions, such as classic video games and 80s movies and pop culture. The story evolved from there.

Whilst Ready Player One packs in a huge amount of 1980’s nostalgia, it also reads like an 80’s story  or movie (such as the Goonies or The Breakfast Club)– the gang of kids coming together despite their differences, the quest to overcome a great evil and huge obstacles – was this a conscious effort on your part?

EC – Definitely! In addition to having the plot elements deal heavily with 80s pop culture, I also wanted the story itself to feel like one of the classic 80s adventure movies I grew up loving. A few of my favorites are: Ghostbusters, The Goonies, Back to the Future, Real Genius, Buckaroo Banzai, and Iron Eagle.

Unlike an 80’s movie your characters are a diverse bunch-how did they come to be and what were your influences here?

EC – I was influenced by all of the different gamers and geeks I’ve encountered in my life. In my experience, there of geeks of every race, sex, and nationality, and geeking out transcends all boundaries.

Just how much of the 80’s references to gaming and culture was a natural part of your own world and how much was research?

EC – All of the references in the book were things I’d encountered naturally in my own life. I only wrote about things I personally remembered. None of the references came from research – unless you count my entire life as research.

The use of 80’s pop culture created a landscape that, for people of my generation, reads like a trip down memory lane – how much fun was it for you as a writer to use these cues to set your story within?

EC – It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Riffing on my own sense of nostalgia allowed me maintain my interest in the story through all the years I spend writing it.

There is a very interesting dichotomy at work in the book that looks backwards (1980’s) and forwards (2044) and this seems reflected throughout the novel with both the real and the virtual worlds as well as the characters and their avatars – is this idea of two opposites existing in one place something you sought to explore?

EC – Yes, that was definitely one of the themes I was interesting in writing about. My generation seemed to have a sort of accelerated nostalgia. We started getting nostalgic for our youth in the 80s during the 90s, shortly after the decade had ended. And one of the first primary uses of the Internet seemed to nostalgia, with websites devoted to every facet of our past popular culture. I wanted to extend that idea into the far future. I also loved the idea of people in the future studying the 80s the same way that archaeologists study ancient history.

How much has video gaming and virtual networking (social media, website forums etc) influenced your novel in how the characters developed and interacted?

EC - Most of the time I was writing the book, my day job was working in web design and technical support, so I spent nearly every day on the Internet and watched in evolve over 10-15 years. All of that time I spent watching people interact with each other online using this new global network had a huge influence on the book.

In some respects your novel seems to suggest that the virtual world is a great leveller of differences between race, gender, sexuality and can, in that sense, speak to a truer human nature (Aech and Wade’s friendship) yet on another it considers the effect that the virtual world allows anonymity and therefore falsehood – what are your thoughts on this?

EC - I’m fascinated by it. The Internet allows for a completely new kind of human relationship that never existed before its invention. Now people can meet online and get to know each other intimately, without ever setting foot on the same continent. The anonymity of the Internet can circumvent all sorts of cultural boundaries, but it’s also limiting in a way, since you often don’t know anything about the person you’re communicating with. I enjoyed exploring those dynamics in the story.

How important was it that Wade eventually discovered that reality was more important than OASIS?

EC - I think it was just the natural arc for his character. A person who spends most of their waking life inside a computer simulation eventually needs to learn the value of the real world, otherwise they are doomed to lead a very synthetic life.

The use of OASIS in the novel created a fascinating meta-world that allowed you to write space battles, sword fights and gigantic metal monsters within your own fiction –can you give us a little insight into how you developed the idea of an immersive VR?

EC – I was heavily influenced by the Metaverse that Neal Stephenson created in Snow Crash, as well as by modern MMO games like EverQuest and World of Warcraft. I also grew up playing a wide variety of Fantasy and Science Fiction roleplaying games that allowed you to jump between different storytelling genres, and I wanted to try and create the same kind of ultimate sandbox with the OASIS.

You’ve written about ‘geekdom’ before in the film Fanboys – is this a case of writing what you know or a way to explore a subculture that is becoming more and more popular?

EC - It’s just a case of me writing what I know. As a lifelong geek, I’m lucky to have lived long enough to see geek culture become part of the mainstream, which is something I never really expected.

How cool is it to own your own DeLorean?

EC – It’s pretty much the coolest thing ever.

Can you give us any news on the potential film version of Ready Player One? Are you involved in writing the screenplay and what is that process like compared to the novel?

EC - I wrote the first draft of the screenplay, but the project is still in the early stages of development at Warner Bros. Right now there in the process of finding the perfect director, which could take awhile. 

I liken your novel to a Simon Pegg film in that you referenced a huge amount of pop culture and created a really entertaining story yet the end result is a fascinating, gripping and intriguing tale that sticks with the reader for a long time – what can we expect from you next?

EC – Right now I’m working another science fiction novel that explores many of the same themes as Ready Player One. It’s another fun adventure story about downtrodden geeks who triumph over adversity because of their overt geekiness, not in spite of it. I think fans of my first book are going to dig it.


October BSFA London Meeting: Nina Allan interviewed by Niall Harrison

Title: October BSFA Meeting: Nina Allan interviewed by Niall Harrison
Location: The Cellar Bar, The Argyle Public House, 1 Greville Street (off Leather Lane), London EC1N 8PQ
Description: On Wednesday 24th October 2012,** Nina Allan (author of A Thread of Truth and The Silver Wind) will be interviewed by Niall Harrison (editor-in-chief of Strange Horizons).

ALL WELCOME – FREE ENTRY (Non-members welcome)

The interview will start at 7 pm. We have the room from 6pm (and if early, fans are in the ground floor bar from 5ish).

There will be a raffle (£1 for five tickets), with a selection of sf novels as prizes.

Map is here. Nearest Tube: Chancery Lane (Central Line).

Please note that this is now the new permanent venue of BSFA London Meetings.

28th NovemberPaul Cornell, interviewed by Roz Kaveney
(There is no BSFA Meeting in December).
23rd January 2013** – TBC

** Note that this is a month with five Wednesdays. The meeting will be on the fourth, not the last, Wednesday of the month.
Start Time: 19:00
Date: 2012-10-24
End Time: 21:00