B55 Mini Interviews with Victoria Sandbrook, Robert J. Sawyer, Flourish Klink & Karl Schroeder

Boskone has a literary vibe, but we’re still fans of quality science fiction and fantasy across all media. Find out which of today’s mini interview participants love Star Trek (enough to dress up for Halloween), who’s had their own TV series and who’s stories include worlds with live action role play (LARP). They also share their thoughts on the lasting friendships they’ve made at Boskone.

Flourish Klink

fklinkFlourish Klink is half of Fansplaining (“the podcast by, for, and about fandom”), co-founder of the Harry Potter fanfiction site FictionAlley, on the board of the Interactive Fiction Technology Association, and Chief Research Officer of Chaotic Good Studios. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter @flourish.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

I spend a lot of time engaged with internet fandom, with media fandom, and with newer styles of cons. Boskone reminds me of an earlier style of fannish engagement. I don’t get to go to filksings at San Diego Comic-Con, and even at some larger science fiction and fantasy cons, I don’t always see the same sort of long-term community that’s developed over the course of decades. Boskone is a delightful space that reminds me that fandom is all about community, individuals getting together to celebrate things they love.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

Most things I like, I don’t really want to experience again for the first time. For example, the Harry Potter books are a central part of my fannish life, but I don’t think that I’d like them if I experienced them for the first time now: my love for them has more to do with the community that grew up around them and my own growth process than it does the books themselves. Other things I love because of how big and repetitious they are: what would it even mean to experience Star Trek for the first time? I could hardly appreciate Star Trek until I got through huge chunks of it; going back to the first Star Trek episode I ever saw would have nothing interesting for me.

So that pretty much leaves monumental individual works of fiction. There’s lots of those I’d love to read or watch for the first time – Connie Willis’s Blackout/All Clear, for example – but most of them it’s just that I’d like to experience discovering it again. But there’s one that’s more complex than that: when I first read The Lord of the Rings, I was too young to really appreciate all of its elements. (I still may be too young to appreciate all its elements!) I just wanted to skip over the slow bits and get to the fighting. Today, the fighting still makes me weep (the Ride of the Rohirrim!) but the slow bits are infinitely meaningful. But what would it have been like to experience it all as an adult? So that’s my choice – I’d like to see what it would be like to experience LOTR for the first time, but with a fuller life experience, and see if that changed my reaction to it.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

Right now, I’m thinking a lot about the ethics of people lifting ideas from fan culture. I’m not sure what form this project will take yet; I’ve agreed to give a talk about it in the spring at Babycastles Gallery in NYC, but I’m not sure what else will come of it. I’m thinking especially of things like computational projects that lift fan fiction titles, or skim from forums, or similar. These issues have been dealt with more broadly many times, of course, but fandom is a peculiar space—a subculture that’s become more than subcultural; a space full of people marginalized in some ways but finding power in others; a space that makes its output freely available online, and encourages mashups and playful engagement, yet maybe doesn’t want people to come in and break tacit rules about how we interact with each other’s art… Who knows where it’s going, but I think it’s a necessary line of inquiry and wider discussion.

Robert J. Sawyer

rsawyerRobert J. Sawyer has won the best-novel Hugo Award (for Hominids), best-novel Nebula Award (for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (for Mindscan), plus the Aurora, AnLab, Galaxy, Seiun, Robert A. Heinlein, and Audie Awards, among others. He was the 2014 recipient of The New England Science Fiction Association’s  (NESFA) Edward E. Smith Memorial Award (commonly referred to as the Skylark), and that year was also one of the initial nine inductees into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. His 23 novels include Calculating God, Rollback, Wake, Triggers, Red Planet Blues, and Quantum Night. The ABC TV series FlashForward was based on his novel of the same name, and he was one of the scriptwriters for that series. Rob — who holds two honorary doctorates — has published in both the world’s top scientific journals, Science (guest editorial) and Nature (fiction), and he is a member of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the Canadian government, and the only person ever so honored for science-fiction writing. He lives just outside Toronto. Visit his website, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @RobertJSawyer.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Honestly? The number of professional writers: so many of my dear old friends and colleagues come every year, and this is one of my best chances to catch up with them over a meal or a drink. Writing is a lonely profession; many cons have a few writers in attendance but Boskone attracts a large number from all over eastern North America. It’s like a family reunion.

If you could relive your first experience with any book or film, which one would you pick? What is it about this book or film that you want to experience again for the “first time?”

2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s, in large measure, the reason I’m a science-fiction writer today. My father took me to see it in first-run in a great old Cinerama theater. I was born in 1960, and I was eight years old. The math was easy, even for a kid: by 2001, I’d be 41 — and my father, sitting next to me, was already 44: before I’d be his age, according to this film, the world would be full of talking computers, lunar cities, and interplanetary travel.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

Honestly, my most recent novel, Quantum Night. It was the culmination of everything I’d been saying philosophically for the 27 years I’ve been a novelist and the 37 years that I’ve been a published short-story writer. Indeed, I’m not sure how I could ever top it; it was intended to be the capstone, and I may in fact not write any more novels — although only time will tell.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I had so much fun working on the FlashForward TV series on ABC, based on my novel of the same name, that I’ve been devoting a lot of time lately to other TV projects. Everything in TV is a long shot, but FlashForward is very fondly remembered as a great concept in Hollywood, and so I have no trouble getting any meetings I want. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Victoria Sandbrook

vsandbrookVictoria Sandbrook is a writer, freelance editor, member of the Boston Speculative Fiction Writing Group (BSpec), and Viable Paradise graduate. Her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Cast of Wonders, and Swords & Steam Short Stories. She is an avid hiker, sometimes knitter, long-form talker, and initiate baker. She often loiters around libraries, checking out anything from picture books to monographs. She spends most of her days attempting to wrangle a ferocious, destructive, jubilant tiny human. Victoria, her husband, and their daughter live in Brockton, Massachusetts. She reviews books and shares writerly nonsense at on her website and Twitter @vsandbrook.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Boskone is one of the places I get to be my many selves all at once. I can speak as a writer with a few published stories to my name; as a critique partner whose networks converge in one geographic location for that short weekend; as a friend who gets to see everybody I haven’t seen since last year; as a fan who wants to hear from writers and editors I admire; and even as a mom who has had to nurse a fussy kid while attending (or presenting on) panels. The conversations–on and off the program–have always recharged me and left me ready to write. And with everything going on in life, I need that kind of space and encouragement!

When was the last time you dressed up for Halloween? What costume did you wear?

In 2015, I was a Star Trek: The Next Generation science officer and my daughter was a little chubby Jean- Picard. The intervening Halloweens with a toddler (who was Stitch and then a dragon, for reasons I’ll let you surmise on your own) have been a little too crazy to dress up. But I have a feeling I’ll find a way to do something fun again next year!

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

Between querying a novel with agents and playing “submissions tetris” with my shorter work, I’ve got a new novel on the drafting board. It’s big and fantastic and industrial and entirely second-world, which feels equally exciting and challenging after tackling several historical fantasy projects of varying sizes in the last few years. I finally have the creative license to make everything up! But, wait, that means I actually have to make everything up! So far I’d pitch it as part sword-and-sorcery, part court drama in an aging, industrializing empire, with a magical arms race, religious conflict, and a squad of assassins that would so be besties with Dorne’s Sand Snakes.

Karl Schroeder

kschroederKarl Schroeder is a Canadian science fiction writer and futurist. His ten novels explore ideas such augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and exotic worldbuilding. As a futurist, he has consulted with many government and private organizations and gives talks and workshops all over the world. He has several upcoming publications including a novella set in his Lockstep universe, and a new near-future novel about augmented reality-LARP-based alternative economics (and burglary). Visit his website or follow him on Twitter @KarlSchroeder.

There are a number of conventions that you could attend. What is it about Boskone that makes you want to attend this convention?

Over the years I’ve made many friendships with authors, editors, artists and fans on the east coast. A special treat for me in attending Boskone is spending with cover artists whose work I’ve admired since before I was published.

Looking back at your work, which character, piece of art, song, poem, article, etc. stands out as an all-time favorite? What is it about this piece that makes it stand out for you?

I have an inexplicable love for my character Gennady Malianov, a pathologically shy Ukrainian arms inspector whom I’ve written about a number of times. Gennady embodies every sense of awkwardness I have about myself; he prefers toxic nuclear accident sites to cities because at least in such places he knows he won’t have to talk to anybody. He’s my anti-James Bond–neither dashing nor brave, not a killer, manipulator or even particularly clever, Gennady is nonetheless more important than Bond: he’s the world’s janitor, cleaning up after the messes of the Cold War. I’ve loved writing every story I’ve told about him.

In the realm of “truth is stranger than fiction,” what experience from your past would people never believe if it were written into a story?

There are no such incidents. My life has been utterly ordinary and includes no moments anyone would be surprised to hear about. My apologies for that, but it’s true. Everything about me that is interesting is on paper.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’m just finishing a near-future thriller about blockchain technologies, next-generation governance, and larp-based alternate-reality post-market participatory economics. The hero’s a young woman who used to be a burglar; she goes on the run as her past catches up to her, only to find that in mid-21st century America, it’s impossible to disappear anymore–unless she takes a leap of faith into the gamified virtual economies that are replacing traditional markets…

About Brenda Noiseux

Product Owner by day/Sci-fi geek and community builder by night. Using my super hero powers for the good of all kind. I'm the organizer several groups, including the League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen, a women's comics discussion group and a writer for Women Write About Comics.
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