Tell us a little about how “Monsters in Space” came to be.
I’m an economist — specifically, I work in international development. So I try to incorporate the issues I see at work into spec fic. Things like poverty, crazy inequality, behavioral manipulation/the power of marketing, consumerism, social structures, power dynamics.
With “Monsters in Space,” I wanted to write something about the financial crisis of 2008, something sort of satirical, dystopian, and capitalist. And in space! Watching Neil Tyson’s “Cosmos” earlier this year really inspired me on the setting – there’s a bit when the Ship of Imagination flies around Titan, and he talks about it being mysterious and full of mine-able gas/oil/stuff. That was great: it was dark and beautiful and very promising.
The rest just tumbled out: I’m a big fan of teen angst protagonists, especially girls whose names could be “Sparky”; Baruch is Mandy Patinkin in a giant beard; “Doctor Who Bombshell” is just 2048 Doctor Who edition (beware: addictive); I grew up in Pittsburgh; I love labor rights history, blah blah. It was one of those stories that just wrote itself!
My favorite part of this story is the voice. How did you develop it?
It’s a pretty big rip-off of George Saunders, who is a genius (a GENIUS, I tell you! it’s even been made official). In fact, it’s such a big rip-off that I feel like I should be sending him money or something? Maybe this advertisement can count: BUY HIS BOOKS, PEOPLE. Anyway, he’s the master at this: the post-1980s/post-Reagan upbeat American voice of late capitalism, especially via a first-person unreliable narrator. The only thing I did was put it in space and make it a girl.
If you had to fight monsters in space, which weapon would you choose? Which weapon would you absolutely not choose, even if it would be effective?
My chosen weapon would be some sort of programming/hacking thing from a trashy 1990s cyberpunk movie. “I’ve got to hack into the system!” and so forth. Bashing at the keyboard while staring intently at scrolling 0s and 1s, sucking down neon soda and wearing smudged bottlecap glasses. I’d also want an opportunity to say, “You’re going to get us both killed!”, since I love that line.
Weapon I wouldn’t choose: the Death Star.
Have you read anything great recently?
Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet was soooo good.
It’s almost a new year! Do you have any resolutions?
No! I am actively not resolving! In fact, this whole resolution business is just part of that mentality that I’m taking a bit of a satirical shot at (a mentality that I am very, very much a slave to, to be fair): the constant quest to improve yourself, to be better, to do more, etc. To take all the online courses, learn all the things, read all the books, run all the miles, and so on. I’ll consider it an achievement if I *don’t* fetishize accomplishment or productivity in 2015.