This month we are reissuing the fantastic trilogy of space adventure that is Gary Gibson's Shoal trilogy. Our all-new cover livery was put together by illustrator Steve Stone and our in-house designer Neil Lang and it looks terrific.
1. What would be your brief ‘elevator pitch’ to describe the Shoal series, for new readers?
I used to joke that the working titles for the books were SHIT BLOWS UP, MORE SHIT BLOWS UP and NOW I'M REALLY GOING TO BLOW SOME SHIT UP, but that may be doing myself something of a disservice, and implying I don't try and write anything really thoughtful, when in fact I try and do exactly that.
'Elevator pitch' makes me think of myself trapped in a lift with some Hollywood executive with a look of dawning horror on his face as he realizes I'm a writer about to make a pitch. I see the look on his face as if, verily, the doors were about to open on the spiraling flames of Hell itself, and I am its gatekeeper. But in reality, the 'pitch' is very straightforward: what if we lived in a galaxy filled with sentient species, but only one of them had ever figured out how to achieve faster-than-light travel? ... and what if, one day, a human expedition suddenly stumbled across a star-ship, lost and abandoned somewhere in the depths of space? Heck, is Noomi Rapace doing lunch this week? Because after seeing Prometheus, an otherwise terrible movie, she's clearly a shoe-in for the part of Dakota. ARE YOU LISTENING, HOLLYWOOD?
2. What excites you about the far future, as a setting for fiction?
It's not just fiction, it excites me full stop, as it should everyone. We still live in the Enlightenment, in an ongoing revolution of science and technology. It's impossible to live in such an era and not write about the impact of such change, however you choose to frame your stories.
3. When you are in the midst of writing, what are your reading quirks? For example, do you ban yourself from reading fiction in the same area, immerse yourself in it, only read non-fiction or read no books whatsoever?!
I don't really have any hard and fast rules, although sometimes I read similar books to what I'm writing, or look at books I've already read, to get a handle on how other authors handled particular situations or scenes. Not to steal their ideas, far from it, but when you know what other people are doing, you have a better idea of where your own path lies. The only time I banned myself from reading anything was a clear decision not to read Carl Sagan's Contact, because it drew on Kip Thorne's theories about wormhole travel, and I was writing a book, Final Days, based on those same theories. I still haven't read Contact, but I will eventually. I was worried about being unduly influenced by what I might find in
Sagan's book (although I'm certainly familiar with the film, which is wonderful).
4. Can you name any recent scientific developments that you would have thought were the stuff of science fiction, say five years ago?
I don't even know where to start. We're definitely living in the future already. Private spaceflight companies, iPads like something out of Star Trek, exo-planets, advances in genetic engineering and our understanding of ageing, Google Glasses ... I could write a whole article in itself just about that. If anything, things are moving fast enough it's getting harder to figure out a way to write anything that feels genuinely futuristic.
5. Lastly, there’s a lot of science-fictional confectionery around for some unknown reason, thinking Galaxy, Milky Way, Mars bars etc. But what would you name a new one or do you know of any futuristic fads that got lost in the mists of time?
As a child of the Seventies, I vote for Space Dust.
* * * * *
Gary Gibson's Shoal trilogy consists of Stealing Light, Nova War and Empire of Light and all are reissued this month. Then next month, we reissue his stand-alones Angel Stations and Against Gravity. The month after, is his outstanding standalone Marauder, set in the same universe as his Shoal books, but much further into the future. Enjoy! And you can see more posts on and by Gary on our site here.