Tell us how “Unclaimed” came about.
It was during the Google Books hearing, when the company had digitized hundreds of thousands of books without any author permissions, and proposed to set up a “book rights registry” to hold any licensing fees obtained for digitized books that didn’t get claimed by their authors. I was writing a nonfiction article about it and started wondering, what the hell would happen if one of these unclaimed books actually started making a ton of money? Anyway, Google was sued by the Author’s Guild, and it looks like their plans to make all these digitized books available online have been foiled. But I think this future is still very plausible. Well, except for the giant squid scorpion, who has the post-structuralist feminist power to destroy binaries with her mind.
You write both fiction and non-fiction; does one feed the other, or are they separate crafts?
Probably my previous answer makes it obvious that they definitely feed into each other. I love science, and both my nonfiction and fiction writing are ways that I try to think through how scientific discoveries will change the world, even in tiny, personal ways.
Talk to us some about i09; it’s such an awesome site, a delicious mashup of fiction and science and well, science fiction! How did it come into being?
I founded the site back in 2008, when Gawker Media invited me to cook up a site about the future. One of the first things I did was hire Charlie Jane Anders, and she and I worked together with our amazing team of writers to make io9 into the suicide soft drink of futuristic topics. I think the key ingredient is probably the bright purple soda.
What’s in your iTunes/Spotify/8-track lately?
The Kills and La Roux and — just for pure guilty pleasure value — Weezer.
What’s your favorite Ray Bradbury book/story?
The Martian Chronicles. It was one of the first science fiction books I ever read, and there are scenes in it that I still think about 25 years later.