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Alastair Reynolds Book and Novel

Alastair Reynolds - Author


Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St Andrews Universities and has a Ph.D. in astronomy. Since 1991 he has lived in the Netherlands, near Leiden. He gave up working as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency to become a full-time writer. Revelation Space and Pushing Ice were shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Revelation Space, Absolution Gap and Century Rain were shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Award, and Chasm City won the BSFA, and Diamond Dogs was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award.

Below is a Q & A with this author.

Who’s your favourite author? Considering his career as a whole, and the effect his writing has had on me, I would probably say Arthur C. Clarke. I can still remember the unbearable excitement of reading The City and the Stars for the first time.

Typewriter, word processor or pen? A computer if it's available, but I've written a lot on a typewriter, and am quite happy to write in longhand if necessary. I get a lot of inspiration from doodles and random word-association, so I tend to have a lot of paper around when I'm writing.

What educational qualifications do you have? Have you had any formal tuition in creative writing? If so, where and what? Did you find it useful? I have the usual science-graduate background: degree and doctorate. I wanted to keep studying English (and Art, which I was also good at), but it wasn't possible – it was one or the other. I still bitterly resent that! I've never had any formal tuition in creative writing, but I'm open-minded as to the usefulness of it.

Name your top five pieces of music. Really difficult, this one. When I'm in a classical mood I tend to listen to Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich, Sibelius, but picking one or two choices would be impossible. When I want to rock out I listen to everything from early Who through to recent stuff like Grandaddy and The Flaming Lips. My favourite defunct band is probably The Chameleons, a British group from Manchester who made some fine records. My favourite solo artist would probably be Neil Young.

What were the first pieces of writing that you produced? e.g. short stories, school magazine etc. I wrote stories as soon as I could write. I used to illustrate them myself and staple them up into little books. I wrote two novels before I was 18, and vast numbers of short stories. A story of mine was published in a South Wales regional schools magazine in 1984 – that was a big boost to my confidence. Someone compared it to Malcolm Bradbury, so I went away and read all Bradbury's novels (and then David Lodge). That was good for me as it encouraged me to read beyond science fiction.

Tell us about your best or worst holiday experience. Best experience was probably horse-riding up a precarious mountain pass in Chile. Amazing views, with the sun going down.

How do you write each novel – i.e. do you block out the narrative first, take each page at a time, create the central character, build a cast of characters? I just dive on into it, like a bulldozer rampaging through a shopping mall, leaving a trail of chaos in my wake, and making most of it up as I go along. This entails a huge amount of rewriting, and throwing away of surplus material, but I find it preferable to working to a rigid plan. My characters need to grow organically through their interactions with other people in the story – they don't have any reality for me until I'm at least halfway into the project.

What is a typical writing day? Get up. Have breakfast. Check email and surf the web. Aim to get a good chunk of work done by lunchtime – say a thousand words. Two to three thousand a day is my usual target. I usually break the afternoon up by going for a run or a swim. Drink vast amounts of coffee. After years of doing all my work in the evenings, I really like having them back now – although I'll often write just because I feel like it. I also tend to be a tiny bit more creative in the evening, for some reason.

What do you do when you are not writing? How do you relax? What are your hobbies? I do some sports: running, swimming, cycling and a bit of horse-riding. My partner and I watch a lot of films, in the cinema and on DVD. I like scratchy British black-and-white films, mainly. I'm also a great fan of anything to do with trains. I'm an anorak, basically, but at 38 I've long stopped caring.

Have you started your next book? Can you tell us a little bit about it? I've made a tentative start on something, which may or may not become the next book. It's a far-future, hard-SF space opera, with lots of interacting alien cultures. The main characters are people from near our own time, catapulted into the distant future. I have every intention of doing another book in the Revelation Space universe, but it won't be the next one.

If you like Alastair Reynolds you might also like to read books by Richard Morgan, Neal Asher and Kevin J. Anderson.

Featured Books, with extracts, by Alastair Reynolds

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
Revenger
Alastair Reynolds
Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future - a tale of space pirates, buried treasure and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism ...and of vengeance...
Format: Paperback - Released: 16/05/2017
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
Revelation Space
Alastair Reynolds
A Special Edition of Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds to celebrate Orion's 20th anniversary. REVELATION SPACE: a huge, magnificent space opera that ranges acrioss the known and unknown universe ...towards the most terrifying of destinations.
Format: Paperback - Released: 20/02/2012
Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds
Terminal World
Alastair Reynolds
TERMINAL WORLD is a snarling, drooling, crazy-eyed mongrel of a book: equal parts steampunk, western, planetary romance and far-future SF.
Format: Paperback - Released: 07/02/2009
House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds
House of Suns
Alastair Reynolds
His massive space sagas make the Star Wars movies feel like a trip around the neighbourhood block. Imagination, intrigue, IMAX-size adventures on a mega-scale make this hard SF at its very best. HOUSE OF SUNS is the latest in...
Format: Paperback - Released: 20/12/2008

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