Friday, January 4, 2008

Never Throw Anything Away!

Before I write a word, I should note that I will be appearing at the
New York Review of Science Fiction Readings at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City, along with fellow Philadelphia writer Judith Berman, this coming Tuesday, January 8th. The doors open 6:30 PM, and the requested donation is $5. That means that if five bucks pinches, you can just breeze in without paying and nobody will say boo. I'd be happy to see anybody who cares to show up.

For today's blog, I was going to finally write about bottled stories -- but then I couldn't find the photo of one I took. So I decided to write about my as-yet-unpublished review of the miniature book show at the Grolier Club -- and while I could find the picture, I couldn't find the review! Luckily, in the course of looking for it, I ran across the following unpublished (and that's rare for me) item. A couple of years ago, Capclave solicited a Dewar's Profile style series of answers to canned questions. They were going to run it in their program book if they got enough responses.

Well, they didn't. Not everybody was as good a sport as I am, apparently. And I was stuck with an item of orphan writing, for which there was no obvious market or venue. However, now -- God bless the Web! -- there is. And so here it is.

(The 11th question I added myself, incidentally. The fantasy novel in question was the exact same one I'm flogging here. So, mirabile dictu, I was telling the truth.)

Capclave's Profiles
Michael Swanwick

1. What is the first science fiction or fantasy novel you remember reading?

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron.

2. It is the year 2020; what kind of computer are you using?

Probably one of Charlie Stross’s cast-offs. I just hope it isn’t too condescending in its opinion of my writing. I know it’ll sneer at my programming skills.

3. Superman has kryptonite; what is your weakness?

A new Gene Wolfe novel or the latest episode of The Immortal Yi Soon Shin will incapacitate me for as long as it takes to finish it. I can always save the world later.

4. If you were forced to move to another country, where would you go?

Ireland for the conversation; Canada for the neighbors; Finland for the saunas. Maybe I could commute?

5. Who is your favorite fictional villain?

Odysseus. He was a wily bastard and a murderous thug but, alone among the Greeks, capable of using his brain.

6. What is your favorite herb or spice and who taught you how to cook?

Marianne’s sweet red bell pepper and garlic rub; she dries, grinds, and mixes it herself. Good on close to everything. Living with a brilliant cook, as I do, it would be presumptuous of me to claim that I have learned how to cook yet. I can make a pretty good tuna goo, though.

7. Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

Let’s see. Paul Klee’s Fish Magic inspired a scene in “Slow Life,” a Marc Chagall retrospective was responsible for “A Midwinter’s Tale,” and “The Blind Minotaur” was based on the etchings in Picasso’s Vollard Suite. So, yeah, a thousand words seems about right. If the picture’s good enough.

8. What do you want to be when you grow up (i.e., what would be your dream profession)?

A writer like I am now, only much, much better. I’m working on it.

9. Would you trade places with J. K. Rowling (i.e., be the author of the Harry Potter books)?

No, but then she wouldn’t trade places with me. She does her thing, and I do mine. Let history judge which of us was misguided.

10. What is your favorite alcoholic (or non-alcoholic) drink?

A Boodles martini, very dry, straight up, with a twist.

11. When are you finally going to finish that fantasy novel you’re working on?

Soon, soon, I promise. Real, real soon. Really. Soon.


Oz said...

"1. What is the first science fiction or fantasy novel you remember reading?

The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron."

Ack! First one I read, handed to me by my older truly bizarre to see that. They recently reprinted it, in fact. (F'ing guilty pleasure of mine.)


Michael Swanwick said...

Alas, parts of it are a cheat. How did that green ad get into the one newspaper and no other? How did the spaceship the kids built turn out to be larger and better-built than they remembered it when they got to Mr. Bass's house?

Still, it inspired me to begin building many a rocket ship when I was a kid.

Frederick Paul Kiesche III said...

"Rock to Limbo" by Alan E. Nourse. I totally forgot the author and title, but not the story. So when I ran across a paperback reprint years later, it was a trip down memory lane. Still a good tale.