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Interview d'Alastair Reynolds (VO)

Interview d'Alastair Reynolds (VO)

ActuSF : We can notice in all your books that you are really specialized in science fiction and space opera. Why are you so passionate about stars and interstellar travels?
Alastair Reynolds : I don't think you have a choice about the things that fascinate you. I have been attracted to space and space exploration since I was tiny. I don't know where the obsession came from. My parents gave me a poster with the planets on when I was little - maybe it was, or Star Trek?
ActuSF : How is born the idea of Pushing Ice ?
Alastair Reynolds : I wanted to write about alien intelligences from a different perspective than was possible in the framework of the "Revelation Space" books and stories. In the RS universe, the aliens are generally much more advanced than us, often godlike, often vanished. In Pushing Ice, they are generally at a similar or close level of technological development. I had to think through the rules that would make that logical.
ActuSF : Do you think your book Pushing ice could have a following? For example about the story of Svetlana and Parris? Or of the human colony in the Structure?
Alastair Reynolds : Very much so. I've always intended to return to that universe, and I hope to do so one day. It will be a few books before I get a chance to think about it, though.
ActuSF: What is the strongest message that you could summarize from you book, if there’s any of course?
Alastair Reynolds: Cooperation in the face of adversity? The humans must first learn to cooperate with each other, and then later with the aliens. Beyond that, I don't know!
ActuSF : In your book, you gave a special importance to humans’ reaction facing a first alien contact. In your opinion, what could be the worst situation?
Alastair Reynolds : The worst situation would probably be first contact followed immediately by our annihilation as the aliens wipe us out! I don't think that's very likely though. What might be more probable is that contact is followed by our getting access to alien "knowledge" that might not be very good for us. I don't mean in the sense of blowing ourselves up, but that we might lose our intellectual curiosity if we were suddenly given, for instance, a complete final theory of physics, or something like that.
It's also likely that the aliens would have worked out the answers to some other questions that interest us – what is the scope of life in the universe, is there a higher intelligence (God?), an afterlife etc. We might not like the answers very much. It's not that I think we should wallow in ignorance but it may not be good for us to have these things handed to us on a plate, rather than working them out for ourselves over centuries.
ActuSF : Do you think that in our actual world situation, humans would be able to handle a first space contact?
Alastair Reynolds: In all likelihood - apart from the scenarios above - I don't think it would change us that much. Unless the aliens arrived in huge spaceships, hovering over our cities, I think life would continue more or less as it did before. There would be a period of intense interest, rather like the situation that happens now with a war or natural catastrophe, and then the news would fade back into the noise, drowned out by chit-chat about celebrities, scandals, the stock market and so on.
ActuSF : In your book, you’re describing a situation in less than 50 years where humans will be operating comets for its ice and have colonies on the Moon and Mars. Do you think our actual economy and biggest interests and strategies for future will produce such technological advances and developments? What in your opinion, would be the major event capable to move the world toward such situation?
Alastair Reynolds: It's not impossible that we could achieve these things in 50 years - we achieved a lot between 1919 and 1969, as I am fond of pointing out - but on the other hand we did have a world war and the aftermath of another to accelerate technological development. For now, if war is ruled out (which I fondly hope is the case) the biggest obvious driver would be economics, a new gold rush, with private enterprise springing into space. In some respects, that seems to be happening - but it's far too early to say what the long-term consequences will be.
ActuSF : What is you preferred book(s) and why?
Alastair Reynolds: I am very fond of both Pushing Ice and House of Suns, both of which (I hope) have interesting things to say about our possible destiny in the universe. In the same vein, I'm quietly pleased with my most recent novel, Blue Remembered Earth, for similar reasons. But since I've just finished it, I would say that.
ActuSF : What are your projects, now ?
Alastair Reynolds: I am now working on a sequel to Blue Remembered Earth. I'm about a quarter of the way through it. It's a very different book, set centuries later.

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