Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Nonfiction

Author Spotlight: Marc Laidlaw

Your short story “Forget You” is one of our original fantasy stories for this issue, but I found it a bit horrific, maybe because the mind is so powerful, and the idea of it being unreliable, or alternatively, so powerful that one can actually undo a memory, is chilling. Will you tell us about where this story came from?

It came entirely from the first image in the story: wondering how cats do that thing where they seem to edit reality and retroactively insert themselves in your lap after you’ve repeatedly tried to keep them out of it.

The opening of “Forget You” gives the impression that this might be a love story. Even after reading it, I think the main character really did love the woman, especially given his previous loneliness. Yet his obsession took his life, and hers, in a different direction. Why do you think he couldn’t let the origins of their relationship go?

Is he the main character? I think of it as her story, but told from his point of view.

You’re a computer game designer for Valve. How has working on games like Half-Life and more affected your writing speculative fiction?

The reader is a bit less of an abstraction now. I’m a little more aware of wanting to connect with readers—whether I want to be entertaining, or risk deliberately mystifying them. I deal with fans of our games, and have a better understanding of how different people are going to take away very different things from whatever I do. This isn’t just the result of working on games though . . . it’s partly a result of the fact that the internet currently allows a lot more direct interaction between creators and fans.

For that matter, which came first? The gaming or the writing? And have you always been drawn to speculative fiction?

I started writing when I was a kid. This was a couple decades before computer games existed. I read mainly fantasy, horror, and science fiction back then . . . it took a while for my horizons to broaden.

For our readers that are new to your work, where should they start first?

I like to think there’s no such thing as a typical Laidlaw story, but then I’m a little too close to myself. Easiest thing is to find stuff that is online: A near-future SF piece, “Sleepy Joe” is at Infinite Matrix; my Lovecraftian fungus story “Leng” was recently reprinted at the Weird Fiction Review; and a more realistic piece, “The Boy Who Followed Lovecraft,” is up at Subterranean. These are all very different types of stories, so . . . I guess that’s as good an overview as any. None of my novels are currently in print; I’m preparing ebook editions of all the ones to which I have rights.

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Erin Stocks

Erin Stocks Lightspeed Assistant Editor Erin Stocks’ fiction can be found in the Coeur de Lion anthology Anywhere but EarthFlash Fiction Online, the Hadley Rille anthology Destination: Future, The Colored Lens, and most recently in Polluto Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @ErinStocks or at www.erinstocks.com.