Interview for Ali Mirenayat

No idea where this went. I really ought to record the destination of these interviews when I save them. Too late now. This was in 2017 and is a tad terse. Their comes a point when answering the same questions again and again becomes tiresome and I detect that tone from me here.

 

Please give us your biography.

I was born in 1961 in Essex, Great Britain, and divide my time between there and the island of Crete. I’ve been an SF and fantasy junky ever since having my mind distorted at an early age by JRRT, Edgar Rice Burroughs and E C Tubb. Sometime after leaving school I decided to focus on only one of my many interests because it was inclusive of the others: writing. Finally taken on by a large publisher, Pan Macmillan, my first full-length SF novel, Gridlinked, came out in 2001, and now in total have 23 books to my name, also in translation across the world.

How did you become a Science Fiction writer? Which genre your novels are category?

You have written many science fiction novels so far. Which ones do you like the most?

I started off writing fantasy and still have on my computer a trilogy and the first book of a second trilogy that remain unpublished. While I was trying to get stuff published I found the small presses in England and started submitting to them. By then I was writing more SF because it interested me more. I then proceeded to SF novels and it was these that were taken by Macmillan and I have felt no urge to change genres since. I try not to categorize my novels but others do. They call them space opera and cyberpunk. Whatever. I like all my novels in different ways, but I guess my preference is for The Skinner and Brass Man.

Which ones are the best science fiction writers to you? Why?

Many of them are very good in their own particular way. When I look at my shelves of books I find it difficult to say this one is better than that one. In my acknowledgements in The Skinner I wrote ‘Thanks to all those excellent people whose names stretch through the alphabet from Aldiss to Zelazny’ which about covers it.

Which SF novels are the best to you? Why?

As above.

How do you show the subject of dystopia in your novels?

My Owner trilogy is dystopian. In these books I show a future in which the world is overpopulated and running out of resources, but the main dystopian element is, as it always has been as in books like Orwell’s 1984, the State controlling every detail of how we live, up to an including how we think.

How is the representation of virtual utopianism in your novels?

Despite the drama of the books – the action usually taking place at the border – my Polity books are utopian. There is no lack of resources, all human ills have been cured and people potentially can live forever. Also the Polity is run by benevolent artificial intelligences who do not have the drives of human politicians, whose scramble for power and money is, in the end, just an evolutionary imperative.

You already have identified the fictions such as The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Amber as significant creative influences. Why is that so?

I just enjoyed them as a child along with many other books. They led me into reading fantasy and SF but I am not sure I would describe them as significant creative influences.

Please simplify for us the Polity universe. What is that?

A utopian society as above.

Hive minds is one of the themes which is used in your fiction. Would you please explain it?

These are minds that are distributed throughout a number of units. Each unit is capable of some independent thought but the drive and reason for existence is overall. Here you have both parallel and serial processing and the result is synergetic. They are minds based on the social structure of hive insects.

How do you see Science Fiction in 2050? What changes do you think will it have?

I think in this age of the computer the lines between books, films and virtual reality will continue to blur. I see the creators of stories like myself working with software that turns what they produce into more than just the print on a dead tree or a kindle. I am not sure that the book as we know it will survive – people already prefer the easier fiction fixes.

Many people mistake Science Fiction with Fantasy Fiction. How do you differentiate them?

For me the difference between SF and fantasy is that for fantasy one must be more adept at ‘suspending disbelief’, especially if it is inclined to utilize magic and the supernatural. SF must have logical consistency, fantasy often does not.

To what extent, your science fiction is close to the reality?

In some details it is close to reality and the questions it poses a real: how will we deal with AI, with extended life spans, with the ability to transform ourselves, with a vast civilization, with nanotechnology and super weapons? However, I am no prophet. My aim, first and foremost, has always been to entertain.

How do you get all those ideas in your novels? Do you have any studies on any specific science before that?

My ideas germinate at the keyboard. They stem from years of reading science fiction and science. Occasionally I will make specific studies as I did for the Owner trilogy when I read about zero-point energy and the Alcubierre Drive

What is your view about the role of cinema in science fiction? Which science fiction movies could be the great masterpieces in literature?

The role of cinema in SF is much the same as the role of books, only dumbed down to snare a larger audience. Many of them could be great masterpieces of literature like the Alien franchise – I think some attempt screen-wise is being done in that respect for these films, but is failing. I was going to mention Blade Runner, but that comes from the SF literature (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – Philip K Dick).

What is your idea about posthumanism? Could it give humans immortality and enhancement?

Yes.

How do you see the changes in twenty century science fiction and contemporary science fiction?

Nothing dates quite like SF. Books I read in the past, where the astrogator used a slide rule to make his calculations might still be enjoyable but are old and used up now. SF must always incorporate the now, and extrapolate from it, to remain relevant. It is and it does and so will continue to survive, though in what form who knows?

Many thanks for your responses in advance.

Ali

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