Apologies for much posting this afternoon; this is what happens when you have six hours between flights and can’t think straight due to getting too little sleep the night before, and you have only an intermittent internet connection in an airport lounge.
To remind you all of the rules:
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I respond by asking you five questions so I can get to know you better.
3. You will either update your LJ with the answers to the questions or post them here.
4. If you repost you will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the post; if you answer here, then any of my friends (or me) can do a set of follow up questions, but you get to ask them stuff too.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you can ask them five questions.
6. Or you can just ask me five question in comments here if you prefer.
Two more sets of questions here:
1) Imagine the perfect sci-fi novel. What are the important elements that make it so compelling for you?
Brian Aldiss put it awfully well in a televised interview I saw at least twenty years ago, when he was publishing the first Helliconia book: that really good sf is not just about asking “What if…?” but about shouting, “My God! What if…???!!!” And I think that’s the extra demand that we sf readers make of our writers, that they should push the boundaries of our imagining as well as making us laugh and cry and care about the characters they have written.
Having said that, I am a sucker for good descriptive writing even if it masks uneven world-building and characterisation, as my fondness for Roger Zelazny demonstrates.
2) Suppose that you could acquire a single thing (inanimate or not) from any period of history. What would it be, and why?
Can I have the entire Library of Alexandria, from just before it was burnt? Does that count as a single thing?
Perhaps not. I must say that I do like having Things. I treasure in my office three rocks given to me by the late President Ibrahim Rugova of Kosovo. At home I treasure my autographed books. I’m a bit puzzled by your suggestion that a Thing might not be inanimate (if it’s animate, surely it is no longer a Thing?) but I’ll stick with my understanding of a Thing as a single, inanimate artifact. It would be quite fun to have a piece of the True Cross, but I think for the wow! factor I will choose Shakespeare’s manuscript for Love’s Labour’s Won.
3) Aside from those which already have been, which of the worlds/enemies/allies from old school Doctor Who might you like to see revisited in the new series?
Well, Gallifrey… but I suppose we have got as close as we can with those clips from The Sound of Drums. I was just listening to The Wheel In Space and thinking that it would be good to encounter Zoe in a slightly more CGI’d future tech setting than they were able to provide for her in the 1960s, but I guess the circumstances of her departure make that unlikely. I think as one who really got into the series with early Fourth Doctor, I’d love to see the Zygons return. I know that there is an unofficial video out there featuring them, and even a semi-official novel. While we are in that general period, it’s difficult to believe that we won’t see the Brigadier again.
4) What’s the last thing that made you righteously indignant?
I have been fuming since Monday night about the EU and US backing down on their proposed UN resolution to give Kosovo independence. Since this is a professional thing I shall be largely silent here, but I am very pissed off about it.
5) What do you think of contemporary media coverage of politics?
In the US it is pretty dire, as far as I can tell. It’s not a lot better (but it is a bit better) in Europe. The best journalist covering EU issues on the Balkans writes for the Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List and the Kosovo newspaper Koha Ditorë and seems to me to have a better understanding of the EU dynamics affecting his region than most of the officials whose behaviour he describes. On the whole I like and respect the Guardian – we are coming from similar places – and when they get their political analysis right and incisive they are fantastic; but when they get self-righteous they are just annoying.
I get very little of my primary information from the media, and in the rare event that I do hear something new from a media source, I always check with either the person quoted or the journalist before taking it seriously.
And another five from
1) Your job has something to do with math. This confuses me. What is it that you actually do?
Hah, I really have managed to confuse you! The only mathematical aspect of my job is filing my monthly office accounts to headquarters in London.
No, my day job is as part of Independent Diplomat, a non-profit organization that provides diplomatic advice to marginalized actors in international affairs. The fact that my first degree is in astrophysics is a bit exotic (but only a bit) in my line of work.
2) Who’s on that shirt in your icon?
The Sandman! As written by Neil Gaiman. Not sure which artist is responsible. Someone emailed me a while back asking if they could buy the shirt. I said no.
3) How fast, approximately, do you read?
Roughly a page a minute, but it’s difficult to be more precise.
4) What is your favorite book?
Probably still The Lord of the Rings. Lots of other good ones, but somehow Tolkien still works for me.
5) I see from a previous interview meme that you have run for office in the past. What office(s)? Where? How did you fare?
In 1990 I stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Newnham ward in the elections for Cambridge City Council in England. The result was, frankly, not good; there was a ten per cent swing against the Lib Dems to Labour (I got a bit under 18%, coming a resounding third), and a ten per cent swing back again the following year (when I was the agent rather than the candidate). The Lib Dems have won the area most years since. The last time they came third I was the agent, and the second last time they came third I was the candidate.
In 1996 I was the Alliance Party’s candidate for the elections to the Northern Ireland peace talks, standing as their lead candidate (out of three) in North Belfast, a district where the Alliance Party had squeezed in against the odds in previous elections in 1973 and 1982. I had no such luck; we came seventh in terms of overall votes in North Belfast, with a shade over 4%.
Next time I will stand with a clear intention of winning. But I think that is some way off.