Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chit-Chat With a Space Cowgirl


  • I've been reading these two books by some crazy Texan by the name of Katy Stauber. They're a little lighter than the usual heady stuff I push on you around here, but that's not a mark against a book that pursues lightness honestly. Fun isn't a dirty word, after all. Everyone likes a good space cowboy romping caper now and then. As summer winds down, you have time for another summer read, I reckon.
    I asked Katy a few questions about the science fictional things happening in her books, which are a complex mess of what is very possible on our current cultural destination.
    •  What parts of your imagined futures do you most desire to happen?

  • July 11
    Katy Stauber
    • Oh, well, there is much of the 'space cowboy' fantasy aspect that is more personal fantasy than things I'd actually like to see. Although, the whole Texas cattle ranchers in space aspect comes more from a belief that I should write about what I know, in so far as that is possible in science fiction. I grew up in rural Texas so rednecks and ranchers is what I know.

      In my small southest Texas town, we had a large immigrant population from Mexico and I definitely patterned many of the characters off my first generation Texan friends and their parents when writing this because I grew up watching them as they struggled with surviving and thriving in a totally different culture, language, and world, really.

      I really think near Earth orbital/Lunar colonies or mining colonies are the next step before a Mars colony although I've gotten into long arguments with the Spacex and NASA guys over that.

      I follow the progress they are making on those manufacturing printers because I think that's definitely something that needs to be the next step and because they are frickin' cool.


    • Why are your space cowboys different from the rest?

  • July 24
    Katy Stauber
    • Ach. I could have sworn I answered your question, but I don't think it went through. Basically, I gave the main characters the last name of Vaquero because I wanted my space cowboys to be more like the vaqueros, traditional Texas cowboys, than the Hollywood version. Growing up in a small Texas town, I went to school with what's left of these guys and they were always impressive. It was easy to envision them in outer space charging off to mine meteors, stop space stampedes and shoot it out with pirates. 
    • Okay... Let's do a couple more. You're dealing with some high-tech stuff, and I'm curious where and how you find inspiration for all this technology, and if you wish you could unimagine any of it from your own mind, or the minds of others? (Okay, super high biotech scares me...)

  • August 2
    Katy Stauber
    • Much of the tech comes from spending way too much time trying to imagine the future and how it will work followed by doing a bunch of research on the Internet and then having subsequent horrific nightmares. I used to find the whole "Gee, look, yet ANOTHER way humans could destroy the world with a touch of a button" aspect of tech news mildly amusing until I had kids. Now I don't find it amusing at all.

      I do frequently wish I could unimagine this stuff. Much of my impetus to write science fiction is more of an attempt to find some useful outlet for the ridiculous amounts of time I will spend researching what's going on in biotechnology or robotics or whatever.

      I get so excited that I feel like I need to tone down the tech, take more time to present each one to the story instead of trying to cramming in one more cool idea. It is hard to do that, though, without slowing down the action or infodumping until the reader's eyes glaze over.

      Getting other people to unimagine this stuff has its appeal as well. I don't want to take the classic science fiction route in which I present cool new cutting edge technology and then have it immediately try to kill everyone on Earth. It always makes for a fun story, but that story has definitely been told and now I think we need a more positive, more complicated story to tell.

      For example, right now, I've horrified myself by reading up on quadmotor drones. After two night of nightmares about flying drones popping through the window to kill my babies, I am finding it difficult to write a short story about them without being depressing about it. I mean, yes, the story will be about someone accidentally confusing the TSA's No Fly List with the Drones Kill List, but I don't want it to be a total bummer, you know?

  • There's books you should and could be checking out. SPIN THE SKY and REVOLUTION WORLD!

    Thanks to Katy for answering some questions about the magical place known as the FUTURE of TEXAS and SPACE and stuff.

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