north americaeurope
alastair reynolds

interview 03:05

[DGN] Is it ('Century Rain') still scheduled for publication later this year?

[AR] That's the idea. We'll see how that turns out. Publishing schedules are always a little bit… optimistic. We'll see what happens.


[DGN] Is 'Century Rain' related to a previous short story you've written?

[AR] No, it's completely new. That's what's fun for me. It's me pushing myself in a direction I haven't gone before. Hopefully it's not like anything I've written before. It's interesting for me and I hope it will appeal to anybody else who reads it.


[DGN] As you mentioned, a few of the short stories you've previously written took place in the 'Revelation Space' universe. The majority, however, are unrelated to it. Do you intend to explore any of these alternate settings in a future novel?

[AR] With these stories I'd love to find a magic formula and write a series character or something like that, but it never seems to work out. Usually after I've written something and a few years have gone by I sort of lose interest in it and I want to do something different. I think anything else I write probably won't be related to any of the earlier short stories. There's some stuff in there I could go back to and rework and some ideas that merit further exploration. I wouldn't do it unless I was really thrilled by it.


[DGN] There's a smattering of musical references in your books and on your website you mention some of the music you've listened to while writing your novels.

[AR] Yes, very self indulgently.


[DGN] (laughs) Do you find that the music you choose influences the feel of your writing, or vice versa?

[AR] It's probably the other way around. I think about what I'm going to write and put some music on that seems to fit what I'm writing. Driving rock music or something like that. Stephen King listens to Metallica and AC/DC and I think you can see that, it seeps through into the words.


[DGN] You mention Vaughan Williams, Future Sound of London, Radiohead and Soundgarden, among others, as music you've listened to while working on your previous novels.

[AR] I still listen to all that stuff as well. I still go and buy a lot of records. I'm always discovering new stuff and getting excited about it. Every time I buy a new record it's my favourite record ever. Three weeks later, I don't like it anymore.


[DGN] What have you been listening to as you write 'Century Rain'?

[AR] This is funny. I've been listening to all sorts of stuff that I normally listen to for pleasure. On the other hand, half of this novel is set in an alternate version of Paris in 1959, a kind of Paris where the Jazz age never ended, although it's stale and in its closing stages. I've been sitting down and kind of forcing myself to listen to jazz, which is quite scary to me really because I've never really listened to jazz. So I've been listening to Django Reinhardt, stuff like that. That's more research really. The other day I bought this record by Melissa auf der Maur, she was the guitarist in Hole, Courtney Love's band. She's got a solo album out, and that's my current favourite of the week.


[DGN] Oh, is it any good?

[AR] It's right up my alley, a sort of driving rock. The new 'Air' album as well, I've been playing that a bit.


[DGN] So you listen to all kinds then?

[AR] Yes, I've got a pretty wide taste. I got one of those MP3 players for Christmas so I've been walking around listening to Rolling Stones albums one minute and then something much more up to date the next.


[DGN] You have an excellent essay concerning the sub-genres of SF on your website. Just to touch on this, are terms such as hard SF still applicable in today's science fiction?

[AR] I've had that website in various incarnations for almost ten years now. One of the things I started doing years and years ago was putting up links to hard SF novels. There wasn't such a thing on the web and I thought it'd be quite useful. My whole view on this has changed gradually over the years. I'm now a little bit dubious about the whole notion of applying these labels to people. Particularly as people start putting labels on themselves and you get a little crabby about that. I'm a little wary of putting things in these hard boxes, such as "hard science fiction" and "space opera" and all that. It's useful up to a point. I don't feel threatened by it but I'm not particularly thrilled about contributing to it anymore, in terms of classifying things. I think one of the things that threw it for me was that over the last few years there's been a lot of interesting stuff coming out of the UK and other markets as well. There's a blurring of genre boundaries. Some of the best writing that's come out lately has been stuff that you can't easily classify as science fiction, fantasy, horror or anything. That's really been exciting me lately, probably more than a lot of hard SF'. So I took a step back and thought “If that's what you're really interested in, why do you continue to keep these links, and prop up the idea that hard SF is the way to go?”