Karin Lowachee on “Ozymandias”

The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee
The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee

Q: Tell us about your story in Bridging Infinity?

The concept of the anthology intrigued me, but to be honest I cycled through a handful of ideas before settling on the one that became Ozymandias. The title refers to the sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of my favorites since I was young, because of the theme of inevitable collapse or destruction that follows some great creation. At the center of the story is a n’er-do-well named Luis Estrada and the AI SIFU who occupy a giant “light station” in space, which is essentially like a lighthouse in the cosmos, albeit military owned. Hijinks ensue.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your story?

I thought of the enormity and isolation of something that would essentially be a beacon and replenishment depot for military convoys in space. It would be mostly run by an AI, but for redundancy purposes, entail a human live-in engineer. As Luis came alive on the page, I realized I wanted a more light-hearted approach – a character who is not in awe of any feat of engineering, but would rather just make a buck. He would be the perfect point-of-view to kind of de-romanticize these massive creations that humanity tends to take such pride in. I wanted to explore the concept of destruction, the fact that things built by hand (or robots) can still be taken down. We shouldn’t get too cocky about our achievements.

Q: What do you believe makes a good science fiction story?

To me, science fiction is a genre of ideas, metaphor, exploration. It’s a boundless genre with the potential for great depth – of both emotion and concept. Everything from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series can be folded under the umbrella of science fiction. This is why I love writing in the genre. It can take any number of avenues – some people are deft at exploring the scientific side, others the psychological or sociological. Ideally, for me, there’s some combination of a few facets. Science fiction is a literary thought experiment that writers pursue to some sort of conclusion.

Q: What are you working on now? And if people like your story in the book, what other work of yours should they seek out?

“Ozymandias” takes place in the same universe as my Warchild science fiction series, albeit in an earlier era. The tone is a little different from the series but it’s essentially the same style. I just wanted to toss in another note to the world I’d created in the book series. I’m currently writing the fourth novel in that series, as well as other projects that will hopefully take flight before too long.

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