Trampoline: an interview
John Gonzalez (Impala)
Were there any particular writers or stories that influenced the writing of the story that will be appearing in Trampoline? If so, how exactly did they influence the writing of your story?
The only outright influence was a scholarly book entitled Postmodernist Fiction, by Brian McHale. His thesis was that modernism was primarily concerned with epistemology (how does the mind work, what can it know?), whereas postmodernism was primarily concerned with ontology (what world is this, or is there more than one?) My ambition for the first draft of Impala was to write a story that equally supported two disparate interpretations, by the first of which the father was insane and had kidnapped his son, and by the second of which the son was an AI construct and the father was on a journey through space. Fortunately, once I had the sound of the child’s voice, all the intellectual pretension was revealed to be exactly that, and it dropped away in subsequent drafts.
What’s your favorite cocktail?
A Strawberry Daiquiri. I’m exceedingly manly, so I can get away with froo-froo drinks.
Which of the seven deadly sins is your favorite these days?
Lust is my perennial favorite. So why do I live in Michigan?
What’s your favorite rule of thumb?
-No one can die if the sun is shining.
So, come out with it, already — you really believe in alien abductions. Don’t you? All sci-fi writers do…right?
It’s mass hysteria, man. No different from the satanic ritual abuse craze. There are lots of people out there who desperately (and unconsciously) need a way to explain why they feel so flawed and weird, and plenty of crackpot gurus to serve them the explanation de jour. Were I a betting man, I’d put my money on “no abductions.”
Who’s been eating my porridge?
Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Alexander the Great, wearing Isotoner gloves, or Luis Bu�uel, slicing at his iris with a straight razor.
What has it got in its pocketses?
The one pirogue that rules them all.
What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?
Lou LeFeber, State Farm Insurance Salesman.
What has it got in its ‘pocalypse?
A twenty megaton pirogue.
How far is it to Babylon?
Down the street, left at the light, past the Parthenon, past the pyramid, hang a left, there you are. If you hit the Great Wall you’ve gone too far. Turn around.
Can I get there by candlelight?
You’ll need a mood ring.
Can this cockpit hold The vasty fields of France? Or may we cram Within this wooden O the very casques That did affright the air at Agincourt?
Can you call spirits from the vasty deep? Will they come when you do call for them?
What have you done with Dr. Millmoss?
I did nothing with the man. He left town suddenly. He gave no word as to his destination. He is certainly not in the basement, so there is no need to look there.
Biographical sketch of someone you know:
Born in 1962, hydrocephalic. Recruited by CIA to provide bio-power for massive glandular spike computer. Pinpointed locations of socialist atomic scientists 1971-1989, laying groundwork for extraction/assassination activities. Transferred to Cerberus attack Satellite A-51 in 1991. Used mind control amplification rig to force Kurt Cobain to write songs on the Nevermind album, deliberately triggering the grunge cultural moment for massive corporate exploitation. Current whereabouts unknown.
What office supply best captures your personality, and why?
A smart, well-oiled, comfortable office chair.
When’s the last time you changed your mind about something? I think I mean a radical shift of personal values — regarding art (“Suddenly, I’m not crazy about Billie Holiday, in fact, I’m not even sure I’m spelling her name right”), regarding anything (“Actually, you can go home again”).
I used to think that achievement was more important than happiness. It’s not.
What book or books do you press upon friends?
Neuromancer and The Forever War.
What can we, as a group, do to increase the popularity of multi-stage bicycle racing as a spectator sport in America?
Join forces with radical right-wing militia groups.
I once had a creative writing teacher tell me that he didn’t understand why authors used science fiction or magical realism to tell a story or impart a theme. Why do you think we do, when good old realism might do the trick?
Of course it’s just a matter of taste, but realism seems awfully limiting. Fiction should celebrate the act of imagining. It seems unhealthy to restrain one’s imagination to what one can see looking out the window. If an author wants to be the eight-six thousandth person to vividly imagine and evoke in words the tragedy of a failing marriage, that’s fine by me. But I want equal respect accorded to the author who sets the failing marriage on a space station that’s getting sucked into a wormhole that is actually a pock mark on the face of a barbarian who’s swinging a broadsword at an angst-ridden vampire aristocrat who leads an elite platoon of space marines whose last battle… well. Let’s just forget I said that.
What is the meaning of life?
Don’t touch the green stuff! It’s toxic.
Next — Alex Irvine