Geoff Ryman on Wikipedia
Geoff Ryman is a Canadian citizen living in
the UK. He divides his time between writing and teaching at the Centre
for New Writing, University of Manchester. His books and
stories have won 14 awards. He is the author of The Warrior Who Carried Life (1986),
Child Garden (1989), Was
Countries : Four Novellas (1994), the hypertext novel 253 (print edition:
(2005) and The King's
Last Son (2006, 2008 (US)).
with Geoff Ryman, editor of
When It Changed
How long did it take you to get together all the stories in
GR: Off the top of
my head, about two years. We had to recruit the scientists and
the authors. The authors then looked at the scientists' interests and
then picked a subject that appealed. The scientists are
researchers and academics, very busy people, so it some times took a
while for them to respond. We had some teething troubles. In
all we had six authors drop out or move on. In one case it was
because the writer and the scientist got on so well they developed what
turned into a novel! So it was thanks, Geoff, sorry, but it's
a novel now. We also had scientists drop
out, which meant I to go ring up new ones and try to recruit all over
I got a lot of help from people within the University of Manchester and
the research labs, often people like Teresa Anderson, Dr Tim O'Brien
(who also collaborated on two stories) and Tony Buckley all of whom had
responsibility for outreach of science. I also had to
encourage, cajole, edit, etc the scientific afterwords that followed
each story. Comma
Books were very helpful in getting the final three authors
TSR: Where did the idea
for the anthology come from?
GR: Well, I'd got the
Mundane movement going, which was an agreement to write stories that
left out old, tired, and often unscientific tropes in order to get
fresh ideas based on science. That worked well... we got the
Mundane special issue of Interzone for example. But I'd wanted
to turn the whole thing around and say, here's a great piece of
research going on in the real world, write a story about
that. I know Comma
Press approached me to do an anthology. But I
can't for the life of me now remember if it was Ra or me who
came up with the final idea. I do know the University of Manchester and
the Manchester area Beacon
responded enthusiastically. Comma Press
meant I could go to writers and say in effect: I'm not just
fishing for a story, I'm commissioning this, you have the
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
GR: The stories
weren't chosen, the writers were and they worked with a scientist whose
work interested them from a list of scientists who wanted to
take part. The writers who agreed soonest got first
crack at the scientists. One of the later entries came with
one of his own. He'd found that someone at the University of
Manchester was printing human skin! Just the kind of idea we
were looking for. Sadly, he then dropped out.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
story: I'll go with Edgar Allan Poe... a short piece of fiction that
can be read at a single sitting and that works on more than one level
for a unified effect. Otherwise I distinguish between plot...
a credible chain of cause and effect... and story, which is how you
choose to tell it.
Do you have a reader in mind when you put together this anthology?
GR: Sometimes. It
kept shifting. In the end, I was imagining science fiction
fans with an interest in the genre, or people with an interest in both
science and fiction. I guess I'd sum it up as New Scientist
readers... of which there are a number. Turned out I got that
bit right, New Scientist
gave it a rave review. My own story, YOU which was about
archaelogists on Mars... I guess I had in mind archaelogists I knew.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read this book, anything at
GR: Do you now want
to read more science fiction. Do you now want to write more
fiction like this.
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
I want to say, I'll let you know when it happens! Actually,
it's lovely knowing people buy or read your stuff but you need to keep
perspective. It's not John Grisham or X-factor. Those
are the cultural events that have real impact. In the case of Avatar, Battlestar Galactica,
etc, I see myself and a lot of my friends' work as sitting alongside
that, the media or commercial material, somewhat in contradiction to
all that stuff. It's trying to do something different than
just make massive sales. Try pitching that to a publisher.
What are you working on now?
GR: Two different
novels, one very serious, the other a short light, very unscientific
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
GR: 60th Anniversary issue F&SF, the
last Gardner Dozois book,
the Nebula collection.