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Exclusive Interview: Adam Roberts

Adam Roberts, author of Jack Glass kindly agreed to be interviewed for Books and Reviews after I loved his novel, a perfect mix of sci-fi and crime fiction. I highly recommend you to check his website where he usually posts about sci-fi. Thanks to Adam again for the review copy and for answering my questions.

British author Adam Roberts (2008). From Wikipedia.
1. Jack Glass is an extraordinary blend of sci-fi and crime fiction. How did it all start? (Where did the idea come from, the characters, etc.).
The idea came, as I say in the post-script, out of a desire to crash together some of the conventions of ‘Golden Age’ SF with ‘Golden Age’ whodunit crime fiction. Just that! One of the axioms of Literary Criticism is that SF as a mode is ‘ontological’ – to do with ‘being’, worldbuilding, the nature of possible reality and so on – where Crime fiction is ‘epistemological’ – to do with knowing, finding things out. Some critics think the two modes are immiscible, and certainly there are relatively few successful SF whodunits. I just wanted to see if that was true! The particular future, and some of the characters, came out of a long poem I wrote, in the style of Rudyard Kipling, for an anthology of stories edited by Ian Whates. But that’s a different golden age.
2. In Part II you make the most of both genres and denounce some very current social issues from sexuality to economics and most importantly, the commercialization of information. Why did you choose to set it in an all-female universe?
 Really, only for the structural reason that part 1 was all male (being in a prison, and all), and the book needed some balance.
3. I was immediately interested in your book because of the moral issues. I see in your website that you studied English literature, but are you also a reader of philosophy and morality? Also, I found a lot of similarities to Margaret Atwood’s sci-fi novels. Are you a fan?
 I love Atwood – she’s clearly one of the major writers working today. Her ongoing SF trilogy is full of extraordinary writing.
I do read philosophy, actually, and one of the things about SF is that it seems to me a way of ‘doing’ philosophy in a popular idiom.
4. Jack Glass is one of those books that demands the reader’s participation because it challenges our own morality and how we see (and judge) the world. Did you have this in mind while writing or were you “just” telling a story?
 I never ‘just’ tell a story. It might improve my commercial profile if I did! But subtext, intertext and metatext interest me too much. Also: pararext, grumpytext, sneezytext, bashfultext, sleepytext, happytext, dopeytext and doctext. Especially dopeytext.
5. What are you reading at the moment? Any sci-fi or crime fiction recommendations?
I’ve just finished Karen Lord’s The Best of All Possible Worlds, which I heartily recommend! And I;m in the middle of writing a new novel, about animals: it will be called Bêtes.

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