From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Beer Helps: Lavie Tidhar

Ultimately, “Monsters” was a story about metaphors (“spaceships” and “monsters,” for example). What is it about metaphors that make them so important for humanity as a mode of communication? Why, as writers, do we utilize them so often (both consciously and unconsciously)? Why do readers look for metaphors and try to understand them, and what do you think is the larger importance of doing so?

A metaphor’s just a way of putting something in a different light, of looking at a thing differently. Saying that, though. . . I wonder if metaphors are in reality parasites, feeding on human hosts, whether they evolve, mutate, recombine through RNA and transmitted by text. I try not to think about it too often. Beer helps.

How is space “a frontier of the mind”? If simply a “frontier of the mind” then why would we need spaceships to get there?

Do we “need” spaceships? I think the argument that’s been made repeatedly about science fiction, for a long time now, that the dream of space so central to its early premise has failed. Space, especially in the context of science fiction, is not a physical space but a powerful metaphor, if you like, about escape. I think Philip K. Dick had it best, in his books—we can’t really escape to space, because we’d still be ourselves there.

I often enjoy asking questions directly from the text of a story. So, for a moment, imagine “Your ship is sailing to a foreign sun. What will you find?”

Well, at the moment it seems like we’d find a hell of a lot of planets. Gas giants seem popular in this particular universe. . .

Being a SFnal story concerning Pacific island practices and customs, and since it contained use of a type of native pidgin language, I was reminded of a certain recent novella of yours published by PS Publishing. Is this story related to Cloud Permutations in any way?

Not directly. “Monsters” is actually atypical, because most of my explicitly SFnal stories do join together into a loose future history (including Cloud Permutations, and stories in Interzone, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere). But I love Bislama, the South Pacific pidgin of Vanuatu, and I think the idea of Pacific islanders in space is quite reasonable, in terms of labour forces and the people most likely to go to space this century, with the Asian space race in full swing.

So, what’s next for Lavie Tidhar? Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to mention?

Where to begin. . .

My first mass-market novel, The Bookman, is now out in the US, and the second, loosely-connected novel, Camera Obscura, will be out in May (April in the UK). 2011 is going to be a busy year—PS Publishing in the UK are bringing out my weird-lit novel Osama, which we’re all very excited about, and I’m doing a new project with PS that I probably can’t mention yet, but goes in the opposite direction—real pulp fantasy, very extreme, and a lot of fun! My novella An Occupation of Angels is getting its first North American release in a couple of weeks, from Apex Books, who are also releasing my very weird SF novel Martian Sands next year. So yes, it looks like 3 novels out in 2011! Plus new novellas and short stories. Exciting times!

T.J. McIntyre has seen his short fiction and poetry published in numerous publications including recent appearances in Everyday Weirdness, Ruthless Peoples Magazine, and Scifaikuest. He is a member of various writing organizations, including the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA), and serves as a moderator for the Lobo Luna and Western Writers writing communities on LiveJournal. Until earlier this year, he published Southern Fried Weirdness, an anthology and web zine celebrating speculative fiction and poetry with a Southern perspective. He lives in a busy household in the muggy heart of rural Alabama with his wife, two young sons, an aging Doberman mix, five tiger barbs, and three salt-and-pepper catfish.