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Completely Frivolous Interview: Alastair Reynolds

Monday, February 19th, 2007 at 15:38 by Simon Kimber

Part whimsy, part psychological test, The Slant’s Completely Frivolous Interview side-steps the usual spin and book-plugging in an attempt to find out what people in the public eye really think, without actually asking them directly.

Alastair Reynolds is the author of seven Science Fiction novels;  Revelation Space, Chasm City, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap, The Prefect, Century Rain, and Pushing Ice.  All of which are cracking and come highly recommended.  Reynolds was born in 1966 in Barry, South Wales. He spent his early years in Cornwall.   In 1991, he moved to Noordwijk in the Netherlands where he met his wife Josette (who is from France). There, he worked for the European Space Research and Technology Centre, part of the European Space Agency, until 2004 when he left to pursue writing full time.

So, let’s waste his time with some pointless enquiries…

1) Tell us your name and an interesting fact about it.
Alastair Preston Reynolds. Buggered if I can think of anything interesting about it.

2) What is your favourite mythical creature?
The dragon, obviously (being welsh).

3) In a surprise move the whole of humanity comes together and votes you dictator for life. Tell us your first three laws.
 - 20 years forced labour for Jeremy Clarkson, building cycle paths with his bare hands.
 -
The use of peas to be banned in all take-away curries, on pain of death.
 -
Bands shall be limited to 10 tracks on a CD, on pain of death.

4) Humanity has decided you were a terrible dictator, as punishment you will have one song implanted into your mind. It will play continuously for the rest of your life. However, we will let you choose the song, what is it?
On the basis that a LONG song will be better than a short one (it’ll get fewer repeats) I can think of nothing better than all 22 minutes of Gates of Delirium by Yes.

5) Now we will place you in a time machine and exile you to a time period of your choosing, you may take nothing with you, when do you go to?
Any period since the invention of anaesthetic will do. 1880 or thereabouts will do nicely.

6) OK, we relent, you may take one companion, one of the Muppets, which one?
Animal, obviously.

7) And one convenience, you cannot sell it or make money from it, what do you want to take?
An MP3 player with a lifetime’s supply of batteries.

8) You must find employment in your new time, what do you think your unique talents will allow you to be?
Reading and writing already puts you into the elite bracket in most periods of history. Since I can also do a bit of maths and drawing, I could quite fancy being a late Victorian engineer.

9) Tell us about a smell that holds the key to a memory.
Whenever I’m coming out of a heavy cold I get a smell somewhere in my head that takes me back to my childhood in a very nostalgic way. But I couldn’t tell you what that smell smells like, unfortunately.

10) We love the word campervan. What is your favourite word?
Treecreeper.

11) Spiders make us scream and run off, even though we’re aware this is foolish. Does anything have a similar effect on you?
Peas.

12) OK, so we’re big girly wusses about the spiders, but we’d still like to exterminate them as a species. Of which species would you like to carry out the mandatory slaughter when you take back your rightful place as dictator? (Thankfully, due to our magic there will be no long term environmental effects)
Pigeons. I’m a bird lover but you have to draw the line somewhere, especially when one sets up camp outside your bedroom window at five in the morning and starts cooing in that bloody infuriating way they do.

13) Do you like Soya Milk?
Don’t think I’ve ever tried it (sorry, boring answer!)

14) Black cats, lucky or unlucky?
Luck-neutral.

15) Actually, having thought about it, we were far too lenient on you with that whole dictator thing and you’ve admitted to planning a coup. You’re going to have to die. We’ll go with tradition and give you a last meal, what would you like?
Chip butty. The finest culinary invention in history.

16) As we have access to time travel, are there any famous people you’d like to go back in time and beat up? (No killing mind, we’ll have no paradox here.)
I’m too soft to beat anyone up. I’d quite like to shout “shortarse” at Napoleon, from a safe distance.  Only problem is, he wasn’t actually all that short. It’s due to the confusion between the French and English versions of a “foot”.

17) Anger is an energy, fill yourself with rage and rant about a pet peeve.
Bloody lifestyle programs on TV really get my goat.

18) Do you regularly carry out any superstitious acts?
Quite the opposite - I’ll deliberately walk under ladders. Which is a bit silly, really, as things can drop on you from ladders, when you think about it.

19) Maybe you don’t have to die, or maybe we’re just playing mind games with you. Whatever, justify your existence and we may show you mercy.
Sorry, I wouldn’t dare be so presumptuous!

20) End of interview, now I’m afraid you must die. But, you can either die from a horrible tropical disease and further the cause of science or be mauled to death by wild animals on prime-time TV and provide entertainment for the masses, which would you prefer?
I’ll take a mauling, I think. Obviously, I’d rather be mauled by a large number of lions (quick) than a small number of gerbils (slow). Actually, is there an accepted lower-limit on mauling capability? When does mauling become nibbling?

So, if you ever find yourself milling around Victorian England and spot a Welshman walking under ladders, stringently avoiding peas and dragging a cart full of AA batteries behind him while extolling the virtues of keyboard driven prog-rock that hasn’t been invented yet… well… It’ll probably be Alastair Reynolds.

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2 Comments on “Completely Frivolous Interview: Alastair Reynolds”

  1. Stephen Ball Says:

    I’m reading Revelation Space at the moment, and it’s bloody brilliant.

    Top marks on “Animal” and “Gates of Delirium”, too!

  2. Sue Stewart Says:

    I’ll take a mauling, I think. Obviously, I’d rather be mauled by a large number of lions (quick) than a small number of gerbils (slow). Actually, is there an accepted lower-limit on mauling capability? When does mauling become nibbling?

    Superb. Perhaps you could cunningly select a non-mauling species as your method of execution? You could probably lead quite a long and happy life while waiting for a bathful of earthworms to maul you to death.

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