How did “Cale and Stardust Battle the Mud Gobblers of Hudson Valley” originate? What inspirations did you draw on?
I believe the initial idea came to me after I watched a video on how Singapore imports and dredges sand to shore up its land mass, spawning illegal dredging operations and disputes with neighboring countries. As climate change worsens, these battles for every resource—even sand—will increase. Most Americans still think of climate change as a problem happening somewhere else or in the future, so I thought, why not bring this already existing dystopian climate reality back home?
I live in NYC and it was pretty easy to imagine a (near) future where storms are increasing, sea levels are rising, and the rich and powerful do whatever they can to protect their Manhattan investments. (Not that the characters in this story don’t have their own privilege and narcissism of course.)
What are you reading lately? What writers inspire you?
I try to read as widely as I can, across genres, countries, and time periods. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of history books and horror stories. For some reason, that combination seems to speak to my present state of mind.
In terms of authors who directly inspire my fiction, some of my favorites are Italo Calvino, Ursula K. Le Guin, Yoko Ogawa, Franz Kafka, Octavia Butler, Joy Williams, Kobo Abe, and Jorge Luis Borges. But I could swap in dozens of other names of course.
Where are you in this story?
I’m not someone who writes too autobiographically, at least in a straightforward way. I certainly steal lots of snippets from real life to recycle and remix in fiction. I think most writers are like birds flying around and looking for shiny objects on the ground to snag. I steal from whatever and wherever I can to build my fiction nest.
That said, maybe some of my stories involve multiverse “what if?” versions of myself. What if my life had taken a different path, or will take one in the future? Etc. I don’t have a child or own property in the Hudson Valley (or anywhere for that matter). On the other hand, I do have friends who have those things. So perhaps I imagined a pair of multiverse Lincolns on that life path.
What trends in speculative fiction would you like to see gain popularity in the next few years?
This might put me at odds with the greater SF/F world, but I’d love to see a return to more expressionistic and surreal worldbuilding. There’s nothing wrong with the logical “realistic” worldbuilding that’s popular today. I love a lot of books like that. But some readers seem to think that’s the only way to write. So many of my favorite classic SF/F books would never hold up to the current worldbuilding expectations. Imagine trying to apply those standards to, say, The Martian Chronicles?
Often the surreal, the bizarre, and the impossible can capture the feeling of reality better than anything else. Especially these days.
What are you working on lately? Where else can fans look for your work?
Well, my debut novel, The Body Scout, was recently published by Orbit so that’s a pretty good place to start! It’s a sort of body horror cyberpunk noir set in a futuristic baseball league. It has philosophical Neanderthals, genetically edited CEOs, cybernetic loan sharks, and lots of other fun stuff.
In terms of what I’m working on, I’ve been revising a new novel that I’m calling “Pale Fire meets Star Trek” but I probably shouldn’t say more than that until it’s done.
You can find links to my stories and books at lincolnmichel.com.
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