Aug 22 2016
Part of a series of interviews with the writers for the upcoming speculative fiction anthology, Clash of the Titles. the anthology is the brain child of Glen Bavel, who conceived of an endearing conceit: he provides a list of titles and the members of his Facebook workshop, Writing the Short (SF) Story, use it as a starting point for a short speculative fiction story.
Alex Shvartsman is a writer and game designer. Since 2010, Alex has sold over 80 short stories to a variety of magazines and anthologies. His fiction has appeared in Nature, Daily Science Fiction, InterGalactic Medicine Show, Galaxy’s Edge, and many others. Alex won the WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction in 2014 and was a finalist for the Canopus Award for Excellence in Interstellar Fiction in 2015.
Alex is also no stranger to anthologies, editing the highly successful anual anthology series of humorous science fiction and fantasy, Unidentified Funny Objects. He’s also the editor of Coffee, Dark Expanse and Funny Science Fiction anthologies. Alex shared with me some of his thoughts about his contribution to the wildly anticipated upcoming new anthology, Clash of the Titles.
First, please, tell us a little bit about your background.
I spent my childhood in the Soviet Union where, from the age of ten or so, I devoured both domestic and translation genre fiction. I read every science fiction book I could find; even so, my genre “education” was far from complete as the Soviet government only allowed certain authors and titles to be translated, and also published mostly golden age SF which they could get away with translating without paying the authors because those works predated an international copyright treaty they became a signatory to in the ’70s.
Why Speculative Fiction?
Speculative fiction offers writers the freedom of creating the most imaginative, unusual, and subversive works they can. It also grants readers the freedom to dream, to grow, and to contemplate pasts that could have been and futures that could be. Most importantly, it allows us all to ask “what if,” and to train our minds to seek all possible answers.
Who are your favorite authors, and who influences/inspires your work?
Pre-1970s SF had the greatest impact on me as a reader. I grew up on a steady diet of fiction by Robert Silverberg, Clifford Simak, Harry Harrison, Edmond Hamilton, Robert Sheckley and others. It wasn’t until my family moved to the United States and learned English that my reading options grew exponentially. Over the following decades I’ve become a big fan of fiction by Mike Resnick (a co-author in the anthology), Joan Vinge, Timothy Zahn, Simon R. Green and Peter F. Hamilton. With any luck, some of their influences can be found in my work.
What do you think is the most important thing that readers , booksellers, etc. know about Clash of the Titles?
Anthologies are particularly good for auditioning new authors. They offer quick bites of different authors’ work and encourage the reader to seek out further writing by their favorites. Clash of the Titles runs the gamut from grandmasters like Mike Resnick and David Gerrold, from solid pros to brand-new authors. It is a great discovery opportunity for anyone looking to find their next favorite author or several. (And what dedicated reader doesn’t seek to increase their already-enormous to-be-read pile?)
What other projects are you working on, besides Clash of the Titles.
Last month I turned in the manuscript for Humanity 2.0, an anthology I edited for Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick. The book is due out in October and I’m especially excited about this one because this is my first hard SF anthology as editor (I’m mostly known for editing humor.) And speaking of humor, I’m currently working on Unidentified Funny Objects 5 — all the stories are in, and they’re undergoing edits now. As a writer, I turned in several solicited stories to anthologies so far this year but most of these I can’t announce yet. Once the bulk of my editorial work is completed, I hope to get back to work on my novel, Eridani’s Crown. As a side project, I’m also working on a non-fiction book about the business side of short fiction, detailing researching markets, cover letters, contract negotiation, and all the other things genre writers need to know once their stories are ready for submission.
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