Science Fiction & Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Nonfiction

Author Spotlight: Robert Reed

Thanks for coming back to Lightspeed to talk with us! First off, how did “Flowing Unimpeded to the Enlightenment” come about?

There might be several inspirations, but I want to talk about pundits. I have a long list of pundits that I don’t particularly like. Thomas Friedman is near the top. I don’t consider him as evil as some of his peers, or most of them, but he embraces certain qualities that make me nuts. He seems to know everyone who matters, and he burns a worrisome amount of fossil fuel going everywhere, and his house is enormous, and he has opinions that run inside well-tended ruts. But maybe what bothers me is that the man intrudes on my business, which is making predictions about the future—and he does a credible job of crafting a narrative that allows his readers to feel both informed and confident about tomorrow. I don’t generally like storylines that lead to clear lessons and optimism. Any half-assed examination of my career shows a careless skill at generating new principles and thought problems that make every past effort seem like a wrong turn. So if you want, consider this story as being my reaction to know-it-alls who aren’t as lost and despondent as me.

This story jumps around from character to character to show the main story: Why did you go this route?

I get bored. Changing viewpoints is a good way to fight boredom when I’m working. It challenges the readers, but long ago I gave up losing sleep over that issue.

How important are these random encounters in the long term when it comes to influencing our actions?

Who knows?

Not me.

You talk a little about the future of copyright protections in this story. In a world with continually changing technology and person-to-person interactions, how do you see copyright laws changing over the next couple years?

Over the next two years? Not much change. In twenty years, I have no idea. But if what I write is stolen or made free for the taking, then I will probably write for private files and maybe a few good trusted fans who will throw me some money and then promise not to share.

Hey, that’s kind of an interesting idea.

Kartar is also heavily involved in searching for extraterrestrial life and comes across the realization that civilizations may simply not talk with one another. If there is a wide variety of intelligent life out there, how do you think that they could connect with one another, if at all?

I assume that intelligence evolves along certain lines, and that nothing is new. Whatever humans are, we aren’t important. We don’t see our neighbors because they don’t want to be seen, or they have launched into a new realm or reality that we can’t fathom yet, or maybe we’re a game program playing out inside an artificial universe that has no purpose except to make us fucking crazy.

 Lastly, what do you have coming up next that we should keep an eye out for?

I’m working on a trilogy in the Great Ship universe—my most robust universe. The first book, The Slayer’s Child, comes out next year from Prime Books.

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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.