Interview

Interview with Neil Gaiman

In this interview, Neil Gaiman discusses book publicity, his new book Chu's First Day of School and the American Gods television show. Enjoy!

The interview happened because the sifu at my kung fu school happens to be friends with a director of book trailers. He sent me a Twitter message that Neal Stephenson was going to be filming one at the school and if I happened to be there at the same time I might be able to meet him. I showed up, Neal Stephenson novel in hand to be signed, only to discover Sifu had gotten the writer wrong. "It'd be really funny if you got him to sign that," said the director when he saw my well-worn copy of The Diamond Age.

I've met Neil Gaiman before, briefly and even more briefly interviewed him, but he's one of my favorite writers so I rushed out to a local bookstore, picked up a copy of a book I hadn't read yet for him to sign (The Ocean at the End of the Lane) and rushed back.

Interview: Richard M. Stallman, Inventer of Open Source, Free Software Crusader

"Did you see the crazy person handing out anti-ebook flyers?" someone said to me while I was at ReaderCon. Indeed, the man with the giant hair and beard handing out flyers looked a bit like a vagrant. I went up to see what it was about, saw his face and did a double take. I checked his name-badge just to be sure.

"You're Richard Stallman," I said in disbelief.

"Yes," he said, and handed me a flyer. "If you care about books you should read this."

A copy of the anti-ebook flyer can be found here.

For those of you who don't know, Richard M. Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation in 1984 with the mission of creating software that could be freely distributed and wasn't tied down by nasty licensing restrictions (software that had been 'freed'). Eventually, this transformed into the "Open Source" movement, that term popularized by Eric S. Raymond as way to ease corporate adoption of free software. Stallman also wrote key components of what would become the Linux operating system (or "GNU/Linux" as he refers to it, a reference to his own GNU operating system project which Linux draws from), as well as the Emacs text editor which I use in my programming job every day, the Gcc C compiler which is now a cornerstone of Unix-based software development, and many other important applications.

So what was one of the greatest software engineers of our time, a recipient of the MacArthur "genius" grant, doing handing out flyers at a science fiction convention? I asked him.

Stallman insisted, however, that I not put the video of our interview on YouTube, because you have to use non-free software in order to view it. So, I uploaded the interview in the free Ogg Theora format. Does this make things less convenient for everyone? Yes. But Stallman is more concerned with freedom than convenience, as he makes clear in the interview. For him the use of free over non-free software is a moral proposition.

So here is the video, embedded using HTML5. Enjoy.

I apologize for the background noise. I made the mistake of conducting the video in a hallway, which seemed like a good idea at the time. I'll try to noise reduce the video later and see if I can improve it.

Interview with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Recently ran into Dr. Tyson at a holiday party and recorded this interview with him with my cell phone. All apologies about the quality.

Dr. Tyson graciously answers some questions about scientific topics.

Some context:
The Willamette meteor at the museum is considered holy by the Clackamas tribe of native Americans, who were upset when the museum cut off a part of the meteor for research.

Potentially Earth-like planets were recently discovered by the Kepler team: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2011/1222/Earth-like-planets-How-will-we-know-if-they-can-sustain-life-VIDEO

Scientists at the CERN supercollider discovered a new particle in their search for the Higgs-Boson: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/science-and-technology/2011/12/22/large-hadron-collider-scientists-discover-new-particle-as-search-for-god-particle-goes-on-86908-23654100/

The ReaderCon 2011 Interviews

Once again I interviewed many wonderful people at ReaderCon, though I aimed for fewer interviews with more in depth questions this time. Click "Read More" for video interviews with Junot Diaz, Samuel R. Delany, Barry Malzberg, John Clute, Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman and Neil Clarke!

Larry Marder Interviewed at NYCC

An interview with Larry Marder, creator of Beanworld and former CEO of Image Comics, talks about a most peculiar comic book experience, 25 years of anthropomorphic beans and making comics vs. running a comics company.

Larry Marder's Website: http://larrymarder.blogspot.com/

I've been a fan of Beanworld since I first discovered it as a kid, and you will not find a stranger, more giddily wonderful comic.

The ReaderCon Interviews

ReaderCon is the science fiction and fantasy convention devoted specifically to books and reading, and attracts some of the best authors in the field (and in some cases, out of it). Below are my interviews, mostly about the future of publishing and genre, conducted with (in chronological order) Gavin Grant, Charles Stross, Barry Malzberg, Cathrynne M. Valente, Junot Diaz, Samuel R. Delany, Elizabeth Hand, John Clute, John Kessel, Alexander Jablokov, Ted Chiang, Gary K. Wolfe and Peter Straub.

Michael Moorcock: The Wet Asphalt Interview

This is part of my series on the work of Michael Moorcock.

Today marks the 70th birthday of Michael Moorcock, and for more the vast majority of those years the man has been publishing fiction read by millions. For more on his career, refer to my review of The Best of Michael Moorcock, from earlier in this series. Our interview took place via email over the course of a few months, and ranged widely in topics, including genre, ethics, feminism, imitation, comics, Jung and more.

In my initial email to him, I described my own introduction to his work. Normally, I would edit this sort of thing out of the interview, but I leave it here because it becomes important to his initial responses. In some cases where multiple questions were asked in one email and responded to in another, I spliced the emails together, or moved follow ups next to the questions they referenced, to make the whole thing read more fluidly. I apologize for any clumsiness caused by this technique.

Michael Moorcock's most recent book is Elric: In the Dream Realms.

Jeff VanderMeer: The Wet Asphalt Interview

Purchase the books from Indiebound:

This past weekend I interviewed Jeff VanderMeer during his national book tour. He is a writer known for fusing Post-Modern literary sensibilities with fantasy and genre tropes. His most recent books are the fantasy noir Finch and Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer.

His website can be found at http://www.jeffvandermeer.com

The interview has been broken down into four parts.

Note: In this portion of the interview I refer to the "grey caps", a non-human species in the Ambergris books (City of Saints and Madmen, Shriek: An Afterword and Finch), as "a kind of intelligent fungus". VanderMeer told me later this was not exactly right, they are not fungus but some other sort of non-human creatures.

Michael Moorcock's BoingBoing Interview

One of my favorite writers, Michael Moorcock, recently did an interview with the readers at BoingBoing, and just wow:

The reason for using newspaper reports and other quotes is not because I approve of those quotes but because they replace exposition and show the 'subject' speaking for itself. Readers aren't asked to agree or disagree with the quotes. The quotes demonstrate what I'm trying to get at. By setting a story about, say, the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Russia (from The Tank Trapeze, 1968) against a cricket match in Mandalay, I can make comparisons between various forms of imperialism and authoritarianism while also achieving a particular kind of distance.

Go read the whole thing.

Interview: Brian O'Leary at BEA

This is my interview at BEA with Brian O'Leary of Magellan Media, who has been studying the effect of free ebooks and ebook piracy on publishing. (Please forgive my amateurish interview style.) The interview was filmed by Ed Champion, and his excellent analysis is available on his site.