In your story “Our Town,” Desmond and Roarick are sculptors of something a bit unusual. Will you tell us a little about the origins of this story?
The story derives from a single image, a kind of Pygmalion variant. My wife and I traveled in Asia on our way to Switzerland, in 1985, which was the first time I had ever been in the developing world. I wrote the first half of the story on a night train between Bangkok and Kohsamui, and the second half on a night train between Cairo and Luxor.
Why do you think Desmond changes his opinion of their lifestyle while Roarick clearly does not?
I don’t like to speculate about questions like these. Different people see things differently.
Ectogenesis is a volatile subject these days. Do you see this as becoming a reality any time soon?
No, the complexity of mother-child interactions in utero are so many, and there are surely unknown interactions as well, that it would be extremely dangerous to try to grow humans in a vat. It could only happen in a distant future, with different and more careless values.
What’s keeping you busy these days?
In May of 2012, Orbit will publish my novel 2312. By coincidence, this novel has a bit of a relationship to “Our Town,” in that one of its protagonists is an artist, but instead of the expensive and exploitative art form described in “Our Town,” my character Swan Er Hong practices landscape art and body art, in both cases using “found materials” to make art that speaks to her time. These new art forms are based on the current work of the landscape artist Andy Goldsworthy, and the performance artist Marina Abramovic. They are in effect inventing, or vastly expanding, new genres. This is interesting in itself, a great pleasure to watch, and also extremely suggestive for a science fiction writer. So I guess I’ve come back to a question that “Our Town” explored, as well as my novel The Memory of Whiteness: What will new art forms of the future be like? [Editor’s Note: Look for an excerpt of 2312 in the May issue of Lightspeed!]
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