Episode 588: Let’s Talk About Space (Opera), Baybee…

With Gary about to leave for the World Fantasy Convention to be held in New Orleans next week, and with Jonathan in the process of assembling anthologies on the most recent iterations of space opera, we spend most of our time discussing the characteristics, history, and too-common misuse of that venerable term.

While we do touch briefly on the etymology of ‘space opera’, and on the pulp-era adventures that Wilson Tucker had in mind when he rather contemptuously coined the term in 1941, most of the discussion focuses on how the idea has evolved since M. John Harrison set out to demolish the old-school space opera with The Centauri Device in 1974, the efforts of Paul J. McAuley and others to define a new space opera in the 1980s (and Jonathan and Gardner Dozois’s The New Space Opera anthologies of 2007 and 2010), the influence of media, and more recent examples ranging from James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series to Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya universe, Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti series, and other authors who have energetically begun to reclaim space opera for a more diverse cast of characters. We fully expect enthusiastic disagreements.

As always, we hope you enjoy the episode. See you all again after World Fantasy!

Episode 587: Eileen Gunn and the Night Shift

Night Shift, Eileen GunnThis week Jonathan and Gary are joined by the wonderful Eileen Gunn, whose Night Shift Plus… is the latest volume in PM Press’s ongoing series of “Outspoken Authors” collections, which combine fiction and nonfiction with an author interview by series editor Terry Bisson.

We discuss Eileen’s stories, her essays on Ursula K. Le Guin, Carol Emshwiller, and Gardner Dozois (and her essay on William Gibson’s Neuromancer that she could not include in the collection), her earlier collections Stable Strategies and Questionable Practices, the early days of the online zine Infinite Matrix and what it was like in the early days of Microsoft, her wide range of connections in the SF world, and her fascinating novel in progress. As usual, there are digressions, but they’re pretty interesting, too.


Episode 586: Ray Nayler and Breaking Down Communicating

mountain.jpegWith the fall season of Coode Street underway, Jonathan and Gary sit down with the brilliant Ray Nayler, whose first novel The Mountain in the Sea has just been published. We touch upon the many themes of the novel, from the problems of alien communication to artificial intelligence, the nature of consciousness, the ethics of science, and corporate malfeasance—not to mention lots of octopuses.

We also chat about his eclectic reading habits, from his early passion for Shakespeare to allusions in his novel as varied as Mary Shelley and Jack London. He also discusses his relationship to genre and how his reading and writing fit into the considerable demands of his professional career.

As always, we hope you enjoy the episode!