martes, 20 de noviembre de 2018


UK Teacher and full-time writer. Author of novels and short stories that, through the principles of science-fiction, addressed from the analysis of the nature of communication through language to the universe of Warhammer RPGs, from magic to nanotechnology, temporarily anticipating to issues of current political and social relevance. Owner of an ironic and pyrotechnic style, both popular and sophisticated, Ian Watson is the true protagonist of our first post in English. And all thanks to Javier Mora, who interviewed him exclusively for us. 

When did your love for literature start? Who influenced you? 
I was a single child, and my parents didn’t socialise much, so books (and comics) became my friends fairly early. There were quite a lot of ‘classic’ books in my parents’ house, such as the complete works of Charles Dickens and of Walter Scott, but I ignored these in favour of such things as a big 10-volume popular illustrated encyclopedia of the 1930s called The Wonderland of Knowledge. From this Wonderland, for instance I became excited about the history of Babylon, resulting many years later in my novel Whores of Babylon (Putas de Babilonia, Editorial Torre de Marfil). There were a couple of other multi-volume 1930s encyclopedias too, called Countries of the World and Peoples of the World. In the former I vividly remember a colour picture of the inside of the mezquita in Córdoba, which seemed very exotic and magical to me. In the latter were ‘native tribes’ —this was long before political correctness— and other ethnic societies far away from England. I date my desire to travel from an early age, resulting later in my going to work in East Africa, and setting parts of my novels in Amazonia, Bolivia, and so on—which I have still never visited except in my imagination. 

Also, there were 3 big illustrated volumes from the 1890s called the Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend.‘North Country’ because I was growing up in the north-east of England, where the Chronicle had been a local newspaper which published every week a supplement of a few pages of strange stories and anecdotes from the past—once a year these pages were collected into a big volume. One of those stories resulted much later in my SF-Horror novel The Fire Worm (El Gusano de Fuego, Transversal). I especially liked to read travel books, and books about natural history including exotic plants, and adventures rather more than traditional literature; of the English Literature which we had to study at school, I think I only particularly liked Christopher Marlowe’s play Edward II. The books which I remember liking most, of those which I bought with my own pocket money, were (in translation!) the Histories of Herodotus and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Oh yes, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. One of my motives for liking books was if there was any sex in them, however mild this might seem nowadays. The 1950s in England was a time of ignorance, banality, and boredom. (I realise that things were much worse in Spain, under Franco.) So, from early on, science fiction provided a great escape. My local library in an otherwise boring town of N____ S____ (yet so much more of a library than most UK libraries of recent decades!) wonderfully provided me with the newest Golden Age SF, from Alfred Bester, Van Vogt, Asimov, as well as with story anthologies. And from back in 1921 there was the wonderful A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay (recently translated in Spain as Viaje a Arcturus from Defausta). And let me not forget Arthur Clarke’s Childhood’s End, very influential for me. 

I think that the modern (as of the Nineteen-Fifties) novelist who most influenced me—as far as my first three SF novels anyway—was Graham Greene, because of his foreign settings, his tripartite plot structures, and the personalities of his characters; I read many of his novels as a schoolboy. The early influences are the dominant ones. Even books which I read about cacti. “The child is father to the man,” wrote the English Romantic poet Wordsworth—although you might not realise this fact until you are much older because youth is often a time for rejecting youth. 

When did you decide to become a professional writer? 
I resigned from my job as a senior lecturer in Birmingham’s School of History of Art in 1976 after my second novel won prizes, just as the first had done—and began accumulating foreign language translations, just like the first. The money I earned from writing wasn’t vast but it was sufficient for me to quit my job and write full time; and the future looked bright.

But back then was a different age. In Britain there were only about a dozen of us SF authors; every new book was eagerly awaited—and Fantasy had only begun its ascent towards eventual dominance of the genre market. Media SF was still in its infancy; the first Star Wars movie only happened in 1977. Nor were there any computer games to compete with paper books because there were no personal computers. The field was clear for us SF authors. And there were still numerous independent, family-owned publishers who published whatever books they pleased without reference to corporate overlords. When I wrote my fourth novel, I well remember my publisher, John Bush, saying to me, in an avuncular way, “It’s an annuity for life, my boy, this writing business; these books will go on earning and earning.” (This proved to be very untrue, alas! —the landscape began changing after the election of Margaret Thatcher). Back then, publishers were loyal to their authors; they would continue publishing new books by you for years and years even if you never produced a best-seller. Even the job which I resigned from—doing half-time work for full-time pay!—was a gift for any would-be writer, yet only two people in the whole of the UK had applied for it when it was advertised nationally, me and somebody else. Nowadays hundreds would apply, and the employers would want a mountain of work out of you. 

When I was starting out as a writer, there were many opportunities. This said, you still needed to write books which were noteworthy and original, and to continue doing so. Energy and imagination needed. 
Do you think you are a Science Fiction writer? What other literature genres are you passionate about? 
Back in the past occasionally I tried to write a ‘mainstream’ story and it turned into SF after a couple of paragraphs. Nowadays I realise that ‘mainstream’ itself is merely a genre. Culturally the mainstream dominates, but in fact it is more imaginatively restricted than SF. 

Other genres... Well, horror, yes. During the later 1980s I was very enthusiastic about the potentials of Horror because Horror seemed to illuminate life in a disorienting, destabilising way which opened the doors of perception. So I wrote a couple of horror novels, choosing themes that were almost guaranteed to stop my books from selling well, and certainly not selling at all to the USA—namely, nuclear disarmament, and animal liberation. One US editor remarked, while rejecting the books, that having the equivalent of the Black Panthers as your heroes was a recipe for commercial failure. Silly me. But I was feeling a bit bleak at the time, for financial and other reasons. My third horror novel, The Fire Worm, was the climax of my flirtation with Horror. Having climaxed, I moved back into SF. 

The crime genre... I have written half a dozen bizarre crime stories—such as putting Agatha Christie’s Poirot in outer space, and a murder of an alien in Oxford pastiching the ‘Inspector Morse’ investigations, and an assassination at the Semana Negra. But the bizarre elements probably disqualify these from being regarded as crime stories. I watch crime dramas but I have read very little crime fiction. Probably I would enjoy the genre, but there isn’t time. My daughter enjoys vintage Crime for Art Deco reasons. 

Which is your opinion about Science Fiction nowadays? Which are your favourite writers? 
There is a lot of SF nowadays, and much of it is unnecessary, even if it very literate compared with much early SF. The desire to become a published author and see a book or story with your name on it is not an adequate reason for writing. Passion is needed, but not passion about oneself. 

To give a list of favourite writers would inevitably miss numerous names —including those who would be favourites if only I’d found time to read them— so I’ll only choose one writer: the very clever and literate Adam Roberts, especially his novels Yellow Blue Tibia, Jack Glass and The Thing Itself, stimulated by the philosophy of Kant.

How is your creative process? How do you turn your ideas into a reality? 
I wrote outlines only for my first few books. Basically, I improvise. I vacuum up interesting ideas and information, and then I just start writing to discover what will happen. There is a dynamic by which order emerges spontaneously; so far, this has worked for me. After a couple of pages, I always start again from the beginning because the direction of the story has changed. I will always rewrite text afresh instead of cutting and pasting. I rewrite a lot.

I personally think that your sense of humour makes possible this strange mix between brilliant ideas and absurd elements. Could we speak about a surrealist style? 
I did propose in an essay which I wrote about 15 years ago that I don’t write SF, “Science Fiction”, so much as SS, “Science Surrealism”. Unfortunately, double “S” is dirtied by the Nazis! 
As regards humour, I myself have almost no ability to remember jokes, but I very easily and quickly respond wittily to situations in real time. Wit and humour are a bit different. “The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel” —said Horace Walpole, whom I quote about another matter as the epigraph for my Whores of Babylon. Most of the time I am serene and happy, which encourages good humour. I enjoy my dreams, if I relate them to other people, though other people often regard my dreams as nightmares. Sometimes I laugh aloud during a dream, and this wakes me up. 

Do you think your work is provocative? May it challenge any kind of conservative moral? 
I try to provoke readers to perceive the world in a different way that will reorganise their perceptions of reality, but realistically I doubt that many ‘conservatives’ will even encounter the challenge to their world-views, let alone benefit from this. The majority of people have delusionary world-views, which may be necessary to uphold their sense of identity. 

Let us look over your main works. In your beginnings, how do you access to publish your stories in New Worlds? What did the movement New Wave mean for you? 
Back in the 1960s, I really did like reading adventures in outer space (including “surreal” adventures such as stories by Robert Sheckley). Spaceships and aliens, please! 

While I was living in Japan, in about 1968 I subscribed (by airmail, paying by cheque) to New Worlds magazine, expecting to receive the traditional New Worlds; but what arrived was the revolutionary large-format new New Worlds edited by Michael Moorcock. At first I was a bit annoyed by the lack of spaceships and aliens compared with previously. However, I was increasingly feeling the need to write some sort of SF as a kind of psychological survival mechanism to cope with the “future shock” (Alvin Toffler’s phrase) of life in Tokyo. 50 years ago, a lot of things in Japan seemed very futuristic compared with England, such as—just to take one example—the high-speed bullet train. Hey, in England a bullet-train still seems futuristic.

After experiencing a few issues of the new New Worlds I thought: I can write this sort of stuff myself! So I typed my first published SF story, Roof Garden under Saturn, and airmailed the pages to New Worlds. Basically my story was a description of the roof of a Japanese department store, slightly exaggerated. This must have seemed exotic back in England because New Worlds quickly accepted the story and wanted more. In fact the new New Worlds was the perfect outlet for me at the time and I quickly became enthusiastic about the ‘New Wave’, although I wouldn’t say I was part of it considered as a movement or as regards socialising. William Gibson once told me that the Japanese-themed things I had in New Worlds affected him. 

Which is your concept of language in The Embedding? Which linguistic theories influenced your work? 
This is explained at length (a) in French in a new edition oL'Enchâssement and (b) in Spanish in the introduction by me to the new translation published by Gigamesh just recently, in the omnibus volume Incrustados, so I don’t want to repeat myself. But I do wish to mention —as a huge generalisation— that the theories of Sapir and Whorf (namely, that the language you speak causes you to perceive the world differently from speakers of other languages) gave way to the more ‘scientific’ theories of Chomsky (namely, that all human languages are united on a deep structural level, genetically programmed) and now Chomsky in turn is no longer top guru, ‘disproved’ by a tribe in the Amazon called the Piraha... and the excellent 2016 film Arrival (La llegada) bases itself upon Sapir and Whorf once again and even quotes their names. It’s as if nothing much has happened since The Embedding (Empotrados, now Incrustados) was published over 40 years ago; the book is still contemporary enough. That’s nice for an author, but a bit strange. 

Chris Sole and their colleagues in Haddon experiment with children. To what extent can Science cause abuse of humans? 
Bad science, can cause abuses, but usually ideology is to blame. For instance, Stalin’s political support for the wrong-headed theories of Lysenko led to the starvation of masses of people in the former USSR. Lack of science certainly produces abuse of human beings, as we will witness soon if ignorant Trump and his ignorant gang continue in power. 

In Alien Embassy aliens help humans to develope the concept of Social Ecology. Is this novel your portrait of the great failure of utopias of the sixties? 
Beware (spoiler!): the aliens might not be real... I’m very interested in ‘designed’ societies, as in Alien Embassy, as in Whores of Babylon (Obviously a generation starship would need a cleverly designed society aboard, although I feel no desire to write about a generation starship—although, immediately I say so, perversely I feel a challenge). I didn’t read Social Ecology texts; I think I was more influenced at the time by Herbert Marcuse and by The Limits to Growth (Club of Rome). 

Now, with The Jonah Kit, you reflect on human spirituality. Paul Hammond, one of its characters, sets out an alternative theory between atheism and deism: God exists but he is in another place. Irony? 
My fictional uses of scientific theories often function metaphorically; likewise my fictional use of a ‘God’ which doesn’t exist. Cosmologies, which were far out and very speculative 30 or 40 years ago—such as the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics—are becoming more ‘plausible’ nowadays. One mystery is that the Big Bang ought to have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter, which would therefore have promptly annihilated one another; however, our visible universe of galaxies is made of lots of matter (and of mostly ‘empty’ space—ignoring all the bound-up energy of virtual particles in the void). The latest theory I read to explain our universe of matter-only is that at the Big Bang almost instantly all the antimatter was inflated away. So maybe ‘God’ only applies in the corresponding antimatter universe now extremely distant (An Anti-God, perhaps?). This sort of fits in with The Jonah Kit. Though for me ‘God’ is only a useful metaphor, which reflects a major delusion of human beings. 

A different theory of our universe, according to which everything that we observe is only a fraction of existence—which emerged subsequently to The Jonah Kit -is the current orthodoxy that unobservable Dark Matter explains how the outer parts of galaxies rotate faster than ought to be possible without the galaxies coming apart. But there is no actual evidence for the existence of Dark Matter, and now it’s beginning to seem that a modification to our understanding of gravity may explain the observations without invoking vast amounts of undetectable mysterious matter. Likewise, there’s no evidence for vast amounts of unobservable Dark Energy which is allegedly speeding up the expansion of the universe. Since mainstream cosmology has based itself for many years on what is purely imaginary (even if mathematically consistent) I feel justified in imagining a few cosmologies.
Maybe I should add that this sceptical comment about one area of science has no connection with my view of Climate Change, which is here right now on Earth along with a full package of valid scientific evidence. 

The “ufo” phenomenon is one of the main elements in Miracle Visitors. Pharaphrasing Jung: Do you think the ufo is a modern symbol in the collective subconscious? 
Maybe! The problem is that people’s reported experiences all seem unreliable in one way or another. I regard the ‘phenomenon’ as an exotic altered state of consciousness, which is what I needed a whole book to explore, thus I can’t provide a simple paragraph as an answer. It’s interesting to look at the original reports which Kenneth Arnold made in 1947 about the very fast, flat ‘objects’ which he saw in the sky (and which sound to me like atmospheric phenomena). Very quickly this became a newspaper sensation about piloted ‘flying saucers’ which isn’t what Arnold said at first; the media created this myth—and, once you have a potent myth, you have caused a mind-set by which people can interpret unusual experiences. Arnold’s comparison of what he saw as being like “saucers skipping on water”—invoking the game of skipping flat stones across water—makes me wonder who the hell has ever used crockery for this purpose. “Sorry, Grandma, me and the boys lost the dinner service in the lake...”. 

Through The Gardens of Delight you develope an emotional tribute for Hieronymus Bosch. Why do you choose this particular work of art to inspire you? 
In the late 1950s the works of Henry Miller were mostly still banned in the UK on grounds of being pornographic. So I naturally wanted to read Henry Miller. And I found a non-banned book by Miller in my public library, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, its dust jacket showing part of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. Wow. This looked like a brighter side to A Voyage to Arcturus with all that book’s bizarre bodily transformations and metaphysical messages mysteriously concealed therein. Miller’s essay about Bosch pointed me to a book by Wilhelm Fränger, The Millennium of Hieronymus Bosch, which I found a copy of on a visit to my aunt in London (12 hours by bus) when I was about 15. I think I spent 30 shillings on the book, which was a lot back then, though it is only 1 Euro 50 cents now. The book was an interpretation basic upon heretical Gnostic ideas—perfect! The germination, or pregnancy, for my novel lasted at least 20 years. 

On the other hand you live in a certain Renaissance environment in Queenmagic, Kingmagic. Orson Scott Card in the September edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1986 wrote a brief review invoking the figure of Pirandello. What do you think this refered to? Do you agree with that? 
This must refer to Pirandello’s best known comedy, Six Characters in Search of an Author, where characters rebel against the story they are in and invade a different story, somewhat as happens with my protagonist in very different circumstances in Queenmagic, Kingmagic —my own novel being a fantasy which questions reality in a fast-paced tragicomic bittersweet way, set inside of chess and some other games, as if those are real worlds. I don’t think I ever read, or saw, any of Pirandello’s work myself—there are lots of things that I haven’t read, which I ought to have read. But I have just re-read Card’s review, because I keep such things—in a semi-orderly, though not obsessively orderly way—and he actually says: “Queenmagic, Kingmagic can’t be compared with anything, except perhaps a screwy comparison like ‘This is how Pirandello might have written Lord of the Rings’ or ‘With Queenmagic, Kingmagic, Franz Kafka meets T.H. White’” (Psst, I haven’t read Tolkien or T.H. White, but I did read everything by Kafka!) So, Card’s comment isn’t exactly a comparison with Pirandello so much as a witty surrender as regards the possibility of comparisons.

In The Fire Worm you confront the horror genre. What do you consider more terrifying, a creature such as Lovecraft used to create or the obsessions and fears that can make it real? What do you think are the main fears of our society? 
The main fears of our society ought to be nuclear war, climate change, overpopulation, a pandemic mutated disease with very high mortality, and at least somewhere else on the list an extinction event due to an asteroid impact—those things which can destroy civilisation. 
The actual fears of the majority of people are none of these, due to inadequate education, lack of scientific understanding, religion, prejudice, nationalism, lack of foresight, short term goals, manipulative and trivialising media, corrupt or stupid self-centred politicians. 

You explore sexuality in Orgasmachine. Which is the origin of this work? What kind of role do women play in your work? Do you think society needs to have women as simple objects of desire? 
I don’t think I would have written Orgasmachine without the Women’s Liberation Movement that arose in the UK and the USA in the late 1960s. The experience of living in Japan from 1967 to 1970 was also important. I remember how the very efficient and English-speaking secretary of the English department of my university announced that she was leaving the job because it was time to get married. She was not in reality getting married; it was just the traditional time when she ought to get married according to the norms of Japanese society, consequently she must leave her job. Her replacement, who was suitably younger, couldn’t speak any English and wasn’t efficient. 

My early novel Alien Embassy has a woman as narrator —a young black African woman (because I had lived in East Africa, so this seemed a natural choice). My trilogy written in the 1980s, The Book of the River, The Book of the Stars and The Book of Being, has a female main character and narrator, and is partly set in a feminist utopia—though reviewers seemed not to pay much attention to this vital feature of the books. Women play important roles in my books, often leading roles. About 80% of my novel Mockymen (2003) is narrated by a woman. 
Women as objects of desire easily becomes ‘women as objects’. In that respect the society of elephants is healthier than ours. 

Was it difficult for you writing novels setting in the Warhammer universe? How did you get to combine your personal style with this popular fantasy? Do you think your participation and the work of other writers as Dan Abnett was decisive to push this company? 
I had always loved space opera but I never thought I was equipped to write space opera. The Warhammer 40,000 universe liberated me to have grotesque, lurid, baroque fun—provided that I treated the background completely seriously. So each morning after breakfast, using no drug stronger than coffee, I would hallucinate myself into that grotesque, deranged, psychotic future universe. I was the first writer to tackle 40K; other early writers for Games Workshop (GW) opted for generic medieval fantasy or near-future post-apocalypse backgrounds, because these didn’t require reading the encyclopedias of information produced by GW for games players. 

As regards the participation of fiction writers, always remember that GW is a games company and its Black Library is essentially a sideline, not the main thrust. The main business is selling games, especially 40K, and the miniature models. The games designers are the guys with power. No fiction writer could ever be “decisive” to the company. A writer can influence details of the 40K universe, which Dan Abnett certainly has done, but not influence the corporate momentum. 

Chekhov’s Journey is an ucronic recreation of the journey of the Russian writer in 1890 through Siberia. Why do you choose this character? How do you get to join together this kind of theme so dissimilar? 
I like connecting things where other people see no connections; in fact, this is the way my mind works. Previously, I had written a short story featuring the genteel though satiric early 19th century novelist Jane Austen in an ecocatastrophic England of the early 19th century, where the British navy pulls icebergs from Antarctica to provide drinking water. This was decades before recent tongue-in-cheek versions of Jane Austen’s novels with added horror, such as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. The Tunguska event -where a small asteroid (probably) exploded over a remote part of Siberia, flattening millions of trees- came to my attention, and I thought: which Russian writer can I juxtapose with this big cosmic event, as I did with ecocatastrophe and Jane Austen? Dostoevsky, perhaps? No, no. Dostoevsky is an erupting literary volcano already! But ah... Anton Chekhov is a bit like a Russian Jane Austen. And then I discovered that ‘quiet’ Chekhov had made a journey across the whole of Siberia—bingo! In reality Chekhov’s journey happened about 20 years before the Tunguska event, but that isn’t a problem—that is a challenge, to a science fiction writer. 

You wrote two novels in collaberation: Under Heaven´s Bridge with Michael Bishop in 1980; and recently, in 2009, The Beloved of my Beloved with Roberto Quaglia. What do you think about working together other writers? Are there differences between them? What can we get of Ian Watson in each of these works? 
I need to be very much on same wavelength as a collaborator, to the extent that what we write will seem interchangeable as regards authorship. Afterwards—especially a few years later—I no longer know which one of us wrote what. 

UHB was written, with remarkable speed and ease, by typing and airmail post; the Beloved book using talk then computers and email. It’s well over 30 years since UHB and I haven’t reread it since, so any comments I make would probably involve false memories. The Beloved book initially arose as a single story, The Grave of My Beloved, which was conceived in an otherwise deserted hotel outside the second ugliest town in Hungary where Roberto and I were guests of a convention. A third guest was Darth Vader (David Prowse the actor) who was very late for breakfast, consequently Roberto and I began talking about virtual necrophilia; after a while I proposed a story, which I would start and Roberto would continue, then I would revise and write more followed by Roberto writing some more, etcetera. This first story was a bit less transgressive than later stories in the book, and it sold quickly to Weird Tales, encouraging us. The second, more transgressive story, The Penis of my Beloved, arose on a later occasion during a coffee break in a snowy Austrian valley while Roberto was driving me from Budapest to Genoa. Talking to each other in different parts of Europe was essential for these stories to get started. At first, for the sake of spontaneity Roberto wrote his parts in Italian, which he translated into surreal English, giving a unique flavour to the prose, which I was happy to sustain. With later stories, Roberto wrote directly in English. The stories are all different, not like chapters in a novel, but there’s a framing narrative, of bedtime stories told to a giant tumour —you need to read the book to understand how and why. Finally we had a book of eleven stories (plus the framing narrative), of which five had already appeared in anthologies or magazines, and Ian Whates’ small press NewCon Press published this beautifully; no ‘commercial’ publisher would have risked such a book—hoorah for small presses. And one of the stories, The Beloved Time of Their Lives, won the BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) Award for Best Short Fiction of the Year 2009. That story, in fact, was more Roberto’s doing than mine; he wrote a bittersweet time-travel romance which was in part a parody of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife, a book we both loathed; for a crazier narrative I jazzed up the story with added surrealism, in a way performing a reversal of our usual roles. (Roberto had already published a brilliant parody of the soulful, self-help book Jonathan Livingston Seagull under the title Jonathan Livingshit Pigeon.) By now Roberto and I were able to exchange identities. This is collaboration! 

Your collaboration with Stanley Kubrick in the script of A.I. was very famous too and it was an adaption of a Brian Aldiss’s tale. How was your work method? Did you feel the creator of the story or you had to adjust you to Kubrick´s rules? What did Sarah Maitland bring to the project? 
Sara Maitland says that Stanley hired her in 1995 to provide a female and a feminist viewpoint as regards what she refers to as “the nuances of interrelationship, of the minute movements of human hearts and especially, since maternity was an important theme, of women's hearts” —and also for her understanding of fairy tales. I’m sure that the latter resulted in the use in the film of W.B. Yeats’ poem The Stolen Child —“Come away, O human child / To the waters and the wild...” What Sara says happened, as of 1999 after Stanley’s death, is here. Sara says that she worked with Stanley for a year; she doesn’t mention how often she may have visited him, although she does describe begging for a holiday from the job. She also mentions signing a confidentiality agreement—something which I was never asked to sign, perhaps because Stanley was in a hurry to get on with the project immediately (now!) and the confidentially aspect simply got forgotten. Stanley wanted many things immediately, though could also wait patiently for years till he felt that a project was perfect. 

I do remember the then-head of Warner Brothers UK phoning me after the film was fully finished to tell me that screen credit had been assigned to me, consequently when exactly did I want my bonus in Dollars to be converted into Pounds to send to me, and quoting the exchange rate on that day and hour. He mentioned that he had already phoned Sara to tell her that she wouldn’t receive screen credit and that she accepted this. Screen credit (and a bonus) was based, according to my contract, on whether what I wrote “substantially resulted” in a film. I believe that a panel adjudicated upon and approved credits. 

After Stanley’s death almost everyone rushed to sell their memoirs of working with Stanley to magazines and newspapers, with more or less accuracy as regards these memoirs. My own extended memoirs, with full details of the work method, are here. Parts of this appeared previously in The New Yorker and in Playboy.  
Recently I heard that Sara Maitland wrote a full screenplay for A.I. for Stanley and that she regards this in some way as her "Pension". I do not understand in what way. 

In 2001 you published your first book of poetry The Lexicographer’s Love Song. What does mean poetry in your creative universe? Is poetry a escape mechanism to escape from prose fiction? 
At the Eurocon in Barcelona recently I did a long interview with Mariano Martín Rodríguez, focused upon my poetry, which is in Hélice (in English) here, so I don’t want to repeat myself. 

In 2012 you and Cristina Macía founded Palabaristas. In the website you say your target is “to promote gender literature”. In what sense? What do you think makes the difference between Palabaristas and other publishing houses? Are platforms on the Internet like Lektu the best idea to promote an independent editorial as yours? 
“Literatura de género” means “genre literature”, not “gender literature”. “Genre” = non-mainstream literature such as crime (novela negra), science fiction, etc. “Gender” = male, female etc. As regards gender, the Alucinadas series of anthologies are SF written by women authors only, intentionally so, since women’s voices too often get marginalised or excluded; but Palabaristas publishes many male authors too. (“Palabaristas” = “palabras + malabaristas” = “jugglers of words”). 
We obviously think that a non-DRM platform like Lektu is a good route, and so do an increasing number of publishers in Spain who are joining with Lektu. 

To conclude, which are your next projects? 
I’m updating a novel, The Waters of Destiny (co-written with my friend Andy West), which Palabaristas previously issued as an ebook. It’s about how, in the 11th century, an Arab doctor of genius—realistically, within the mind-set and medical technology of his time—isolated and stored the true causes of the big killer Black Death (which has nothing to do with the fleas on rats). Horrific consequences follow in our own near future, due to terrorist fanatics, descendants of the Assassins of Alamut. 
Subsequent to the ebook, the Syrian war has completely destroyed one city (Homs) which our modern characters visit. I can cope with the Syrian catastrophe fictionally, whatever my personal feelings—but the deranged and very dangerous Trump throws all plans and plausible forecasts into chaos as regards the world at large. 

I am also busy with a sequel to my novella The Brain From Beyond: A Spacetime Opera (which Gigamesh published in Spanish as El cerebro del más allá as a promotional gift for San Jordi’s Day 2016). The narrative of The Brain From Beyond was improvised; that wasn’t the title in the beginning. I did read several books about the nature of Nothing, and I took a risk using the dwarf planet Ceres when our Dawn probe was heading there for a close look, but Dawn has been in close orbit since 2015 and I haven’t been invalidated, not yet, phew. 

Invalidation by progress in scientific knowledge isn’t necessarily fatal to a good SF story —the jungles of Venus of bygone days can still thrill us. But an SF writer ought to stay alert. The nearby star Tau Ceti was a good destination till ten years ago; I used the Tau Ceti system in a long story published in 2001 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. But now we know that Tau Ceti’s solar system contains ten times more debris than our own solar system consequently, vast and mostly empty though even space within most solar systems is, it might be a bad idea to send a starship there.

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