If you keep up with new publications in the science fiction genre, it’s likely you have heard of Medusa Uploaded. It has been popping up on almost every ‘must read’ list I’ve seen of recently published genre fiction. You may not have come across Emily Devenport before – at least not under this name. She has published nine novels under various pen names.
Her latest novel, Medusa Uploaded, is a scifi thriller featuring an artificially intelligent generation ship. You can read an excerpt of the novel here.
Medusa Uploaded is out now.
What is it about science fiction paired with the thriller genre that works so well?
Science fiction and thrillers were originally sub-genres of adventure fiction. Since those early days, they have both evolved into genres all their own, with their own sub-genres, but they still fit comfortably into that earlier model. If you look at the basic premise of mysteries and thrillers, Things aren’t what they seem, that’s also a natural for science fiction. You can put your characters in danger, give them problems to solve, gradually reveal the truth to them, and still fit both genres.
‘Generation ships’ often appear in science fiction. Are there tropes associated with them that you feel are done to death? What would you like to see explored with this idea?
You see a lot of stories with people waking up from stasis because something has gone wrong with the ship. But that scenario makes sense. There’s a lot of risk associated with that sort of gambit, and Murphy’s Law is going to apply. I don’t think that trope is a problem unless your reader can see where you’re going with it and gets bored. Engaging characters and an interesting setting can make up for a lot.
As for what I’d like to see explored, I never know that until I see it. I think the permutations are endless.
You have written under a number of pseudonyms throughout your career. What were the reasons behind this choice?
The first time I used a pseudonym, my book company was trying to fool the buyers for the big book chains. At that time, the chains used a model that was destructive to writers; they only ordered as many of your new title as they recently ordered of the last title. That meant if their last order was one copy (probably as a re-stock order), the first order of your next book was one or two copies. (Probably this issue affected mid-list authors more than the best sellers). So we changed my name to fool those rascals. It didn’t work, but that book was nominated for the Philip K. Dick award.
As I mentioned – our evil plan was foiled. So my publisher wondered if the problem might be gender perception. They believed that most science fiction fans were male (and probably white), so they asked if I would be willing to use a gender-neutral name. That has long been a tradition in the fiction world (one of my favorites is Andre Norton), so I said yes. And it seemed to work pretty well with the next couple of titles, but then something happened that wrecked all of us. Someone flew a couple of airplanes into the World Trade Center. Publishing went through a lot of big changes since then; the Borders book chain went under, ebooks became a thing, and many revolutions in attitude about gender and race have occurred.
So it’s okay to be myself again. And it’s a relief, because I was starting to suffer from Multiple Pen Name Disorder.
How important do you think it is to have realistic and cutting-edge technology represented in science fiction? Are you a stickler for scifi that never blends with fantasy?
Suspension of disbelief is a writer’s first job with any fiction. If you can do that, accuracy isn’t as important. But most of us try to get the science right. We fail a lot – even scientists fail when they speculate about how things are going to work. But my feeling is, if you give it the ol’ college try, you’re doing your job. You’re never going to please everyone. Scientists have come to blows over some of this stuff (usually in bars, but that’s another story). And we should never forget that young people are often inspired by our stories to try to become scientists and make some of this stuff come true.
I see no reason why writers shouldn’t blend science fiction and fantasy. Once again, the trick is to get the reader to suspend disbelief. If you can do that, anything goes.
Why should we be reading Medusa Uploaded?
This kind of question always stumps me. I can never think of one good reason. Seriously, if it were up to me to petition every reader to pick up my book, I’d be in big trouble. I guess what I would ask people is – are you a hungry reader? Do you look for tales that are going to feed your habit? (Oh lord, now I sound like a drug dealer.) If you’re that kind of reader, you already have a pretty good idea what satisfies you. So take a look at the sample pages if you shop online. Or walk into a bookstore and read the first few pages of the hard copy. I hope I can hook you. I hope you have a good time. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.
Nine of Emily Devenport‘s novels were published in the U.S. By NAL/Penguin/Roc, under three pen names. She has also been published in the U.K., Italy, and Israel. Her novels are Shade, Larissa, Scorpianne, EggHeads, The Kronos Condition, GodHeads, Broken Time (which was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award), Belarus, and Enemies. Her ebooks, The Night Shifters and Spirits of Glory are available from Amazon, Smashwords, etc. Her two novels from Tor are Medusa Uploaded (May 2018) and Medusa in the Graveyard (forthcoming, 2019).
Her short stories were published in ASIMOV’S SF MAGAZINE, the Full Spectrum anthology, The Mammoth Book of Kaiju, UNCANNY, CICADA, SCIENCE FICTION WORLD, ALFRED HITCHCOCK, CLARKESWORLD, LONGSHOT MAGAZINE, and ABORIGINAL SF, whose readers voted her a Boomerang Award. She is married to artist/writer Ernest Hogan, works as a buyer for the Heard Museum Book Store, studies geology, volunteers at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, and blogs at www.emsjoiedeweird.com. (Whew. Em needs a vacation.)
Buy Medusa Uploaded now.