matrix: the news and media magazine of the british science fiction association
Issue 188
July 2008
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ARCHIVE
- Matrix 187 - Mar 2008

 

 

FEATURES: Snatched Moments #2

In each issue of Matrix, we will attempt to bring you an ‘in brief’ interview with someone of interest to the SF community. The subject of this second 'Snatched Moments' column is Eric Brown.

A prolific writer of short stories and author of some twenty books including novels, novellas and collections, Eric is a Yorkshireman through and through, although he and his family currently live in exile in Cambridgeshire.

Interviewed for Matrix by Ian Whates

Eric BrownQ1: Is the type of science fiction you write a fair reflection of the type of science fiction you particularly enjoy reading?

Eric: It is. I like both action-adventure SF, planetary exploration etc, thriller and detective type SF (though not so much Hard SF) which I enjoy writing (for example, The Virex trilogy and the Bengal Station series); and I like slower, more contemplative SF, along the lines of that written by Chris Priest, Michael Coney, Arthur Sellings, and Richard Cowper – which I think is reflected in Kéthani.

Q2: Throughout your career you have written both novels and short stories. Which form gives you greater satisfaction?

Eric: By far the short stories. I think I'm better at them, and something about the short form, the turning of a plot within a matter of pages, gives a great deal of satisfaction during the process of composition. A novel is a bloody hard slog. Also, I prefer reading short stories to novels, especially within the genre.

Q3: You’ve been writing Kéthani stories over many years. What was the initial inspiration for the stories and their setting?

Eric: I wanted to do something very quiet, very English and particularly very Yorkshire; I wanted to write a series of emotional stories about a group of friends, and how their lives were changed by a single – if momentous – event. (Although it wasn't until I'd written the third or fourth tale that I realised I wanted to write a series of them.) And I wanted to write a series of SF stories in which I could mention Timothy Taylor's beer in every tale!

Kethani by Eric BrownQ4: Now that you have produced a Kéthani novel, which effectively provides a conclusion to the story sequence, is this your final word on Kéthani?

Eric: I think it is. There is enough material in the idea to go on, exploring every aspect of the changes that would come about if an alien race came to Earth and gave us immortality. But the whole aim of the novel was to be very oblique about the central idea. I feel that, if I were to expand upon what was already written, I'd be somehow contravening the ethos of the tales.

Q5: As a reviewer as well as a writer, you have to read a large amount of fiction. Do you ever find there’s a danger of what you’re reading bleeding over and influencing what you’re writing?

Eric: Yes, if it's good. We're always influenced by what impresses us. But I try to keep writing and reviewing well apart. It's difficult, as I'm a slow reader, but as a rule I never write while I'm reading.

Q6: What are you currently working on?

Eric: I've just finished the first draft of a novella, the sequel to Starship Summer, entitled, predictably, Starship Fall. I'll leave that a while and move onto the third book of the Bengal Station sequence, Cosmopath, which I have to deliver by December. And this morning, while waiting for a bus, I had a mini-idea for a short story, which I hope to do in the next day or so.

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