Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Nonfiction

Author Spotlight: Jo Walton

Lead us through the inception of “The Panda Coin.” When did you discover that it was a story you wanted to tell, and how?

I read Marguerite Yourcenar’s “A Coin in Nine Hands” and I thought that it would be interesting to do in a science fiction context. It’s purely an experiment in playing with form.

Which character did you most identify with when writing? Who did you find the most intriguing to write?

Definitely the android sex-worker who wants a keyboard! That’s the answer to both of those questions.

“The Panda Coin” has a strong element of class struggle ingrained into the narrative. Why do you think science fiction can tell stories about struggle in such compelling ways?

Stories let us simplify an issue so that we can see the essence of it. Science fiction lets us get closer to actual struggle by letting us find new contexts for telling stories so we can see them from new angles.

As the reader, we follow the coin as it traverses this world, hand-by-hand. What convinced you that this was the most effective way to tell the stories of these characters? How do you think the story would have changed if you’d not originally begun with the coin?

I don’t think I’d ever have thought of these stories or characters away from the coin—the coin was my starting point. I have written another story set in this universe, so the idea of the space station with the twelve seasonal sectors was already in my mind.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I hardly ever write short fiction, I’m afraid. I have a novel coming out on May 20th called My Real Children, which is alternate history, and then next year The Just City, which is a fantasy about people and Greek gods setting up Plato’s Republic.

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Patrick J Stephens

Patrick J Stephens recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh and, after spending the entire year writing speculative fiction, came back with a Master’s in Social Science. His first collection (Aurichrome and Other Stories) can be found on Kindle and Nook.