Sci-Fi November: Interview with Tobias Buckell

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

As an awesome Sci-Fi November feature, today I am happy and honored to feature my interview with Tobias Buckell, the sci-fi author of the novels Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, Sly Mongoose, Halo ®: The Code Protocol, and Arctic Rising!

Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling author born in the Caribbean. He grew up in Grenada and spent time in the British and US Virgin Islands, which influence much of his work.
His novels and over 50 stories have been translated into 17 different languages. His work has been nominated for awards like the Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Author. 
He currently lives in Bluffton, Ohio with his wife, twin daughters, and a pair of dogs. He can be found online at

What inspires you to write science fiction? What excites you about the genre?

I've always loved science fiction’s boundless imagination. There’s a lot of room in the field for me to pursue whatever excites me. When I started reading it, my mind was always blown by these big ideas, this imagination, the daydreaming. Thinking about what the future might be like. Or other worlds. It took me to places far away from my humble and strained childhood.

Now I get the entire universe to play with as a writer, including time and space. What if is a question I get to ask every day. And whether I want to experiment with different styles, or kinds of stories, there is room for it. It gives me tremendous freedom as a creator.

Who are some of your influences?

They range extremely wildly, from John D. MacDonald’s Florida mysteries, to oral folk tales I heard growing up, and to the science fiction books that left a big impact on me as a kid. Arthur C. Clarke was a favorite well known writer, but Cordwainer Smith is one of my favorite lesser known authors. The cyberpunk writers of the 80s got me started writing, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling featured people from the Caribbean in their books and that convinced me there was room in the genre for me to write the stories I had in mind.

You wrote in the foreword for the anthology Diverse Energies that you 'wanted to see all the sides of families in your stories about the future... the whole human race'. Do you think that sci-fi fiction is moving toward a more diversity/inclusive space or exclusivity?

The field has come a long way since I first joined it. But it still has a long way to go to represent the demographics of a rapidly changing US, or just to reflect the world at large, which is the field we all stand on. Western culture at large struggles with inclusive space and diversity, and a lot of the genre’s struggles mirror that back. I see similar struggles in many other genres to bring diversity to it, so I think it’s a society-wide thing. In our genre, we are getting more voices, but I’d like to see many more.

Do you have any recommendations for someone new to sci-fi?

Sample widely! It’s a genre like any other else, with a wide range of authors and books, not everything will be to your taste, but I’m betting something will be. I usually recommend a friend just read a number of first chapters, and if you find yourself still reading, you’ve found a book! A lot of people are intimidated by the ‘science’ in the name of the genre. That’s just a reference to where some of our original artists found, and still find, inspiration. But that doesn’t mean you need to have a science degree to read it anymore than you need a degree in couple’s counseling to read a good romance, or be a detective to read a mystery; a good writer can bring the reader along and get them up to speed on the way.

What are you working on right now? Any projects you want to highlight in particular?

My current projects are still under wraps, sadly, but I’m still doing some promotion for my most recent novel, Hurricane Fever. It’s a thriller set in the near future in the Caribbean. It was a tremendous amount of fun to write, including a research trip to Barbados to see the ruins of an experiment to launch satellites into orbit using a massive cannon.

A big thank you again to the author for taking the time to answer my questions!  Readers -- have comments or thoughts on the interview?  Leave them in the comments below!!

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