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Pat Cadigan: Queen of Cyberpunk

At this year’s FantasyCon in Peterborough, Breaking the Glass Slipper was lucky enough to interview one of the guests of honour, Pat Cadigan. Pat is a writer of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, a three-time winner of the Locus Award, twice-winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and one-time winner of the Hugo Award. And yes, Pat is ‘that guy’, the one whose phone goes off several times while being interviewed! Lucky for her she was a great guest, so we forgave her!

Pat was easily one of the most engaging and energetic guests we have ever had. Even for those of you who don’t know or don’t like her writing, this is one episode that you really *must* listen to (and I’m not biased at all). She talks to us about her ‘unique’ sales figures, how autodidactic she is when it comes to learning about science that inspires her writing, and how most of her stories need ‘a lot of help’. While she always writes stories with a fantastic element, these choices come from the plot, not from her setting out to write a certain genre.

Interestingly, Pat declares that she is the kind of writer that ‘hears voices’. The characters and stories come to her as voices or ‘extra-loud thoughts’. In case you don’t know what cyberpunk is, fear not, Pat is here to enlighten you! She tells us how it began, why there was a lull on new cyberpunk fiction, and why it has come back with a bang.

Having seen the industry over the last thirty plus years, she assures us that we are doing better than we might think on representation and diversity in genre fiction. At the end of the day, Pat says, people want to include others and be included.

And one of the best lessons we came away with was that ‘If someone’s mad at you for something you wrote, you might be doing something good.’ All writers, especially women in genre friction, should remember this. If you manage to enrage people, you must have struck a nerve! Keep on doing what you’re doing!

Texts and authors mentioned in this episode:

  • Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind-Brain by Patricia Churchland
  • Justina Robson
  • Lauren Beukes
  • Tricia Sullivan
  • Liz Williams
  • N K Jemison
  • Octavia Butler
  • Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
  • ‘The Watchers in the Glade’ by Richard Wilson
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Isaac Asimov

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