Science Fiction & Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Author Spotlight: Carrie Vaughn

Hi Carrie! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us about your latest story with us, “Harry and Marlowe and the Intrigues at the Aetherian Exhibition”! First off, since this is the latest of a set of adventures from Harry and Marlow: How does it feel to return to them again?

It really doesn’t feel like I’ve left—I always have a Harry and Marlowe story or two cooking in my hindbrain, and I’ve got future plans. It’s just a matter of when I have time to write them.

After a couple of adventures with Harry and Marlowe, this seems to be a bit more of a quiet story, with more of a spy-thriller flair. Why the change?

I always planned to tell a story where we meet Harry’s family—the family of the Crown Prince of Britain—and see Harry in her role as Princess Maud. This was it. A story where Harry is balancing her two personae also makes a good fulcrum between what I see as two halves of the series—the early adventures where Harry and Marlowe begin their relationship and we learn about Aetherian technology, and the later stories, where the two will travel all over the world. Things will get much bigger and stranger after this.

We meet a certain Mr. Wells in this installment, who’s looking to write an allegorical novel about the alien crash and potential invasion. It’s a very meta moment, with one of the creators of the genre present in a genre story! Is there a certain level of allegory you planning with this world?

I’m not sure allegory is the right word. I see it as pure alternate history. I posit my alternate history as beginning when an alien spacecraft crash lands in Surrey—at some point I had to address the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the room, which is: What happens to H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds in a world that really did have an alien invasion of sorts? My answer is: The novel itself doesn’t change much, but its meaning does.

We see Wells, but do you have any idea of what a certain Mr. Verne is up to?

I would have to go back to the events of “Harry and Marlowe Escape the Mechanical Siege of Paris” and learn how Mr. Verne fared during the German invasion of the city . . . I imagine he has his own ideas of what people should be doing with Aetherian technology.

With four stories featuring Harry and Marlow under your belt, are we going to see more adventures from them, or possibly a longer work?

Yes, I’ve got more stories planned. My hope is to eventually collect them all into one large book, where something resembling an overarching storyline will become clear.

What’s next for the pair, and what should we be looking forward to next from you?

As you can see in this story, Harry and Marlowe have been charged by Queen Victoria herself to travel the world searching for technology that will give Britain a desperately needed edge in its war with Germany. That’s where we’re going next. As for what else: My urban fantasy series continues this year with a novel about bounty-hunter bad boy Cormac called Low Midnight, and my second superhero novel, Dreams of the Golden Age, will be released in January.

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Andrew Liptak

Andrew Liptak

Andrew Liptak is the Weekend Editor for The Verge. He is the co-editor of War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, (Apex Publications, 2014). His writing has also appeared in io9, Gizmodo, Kirkus Reviews, Tor.com, BN Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Clarkesworld and others. He lives in Vermont.