In May of 2023,Ji Zhu
,Brand manager of Mecrob Team,decided to interview Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
,Spanish editor and author, in US after around 2003;
Alvaro’s book of interviews with Robert Silverberg, Traveler of Worlds, was a Hugo and Locus award finalist. Alvaro’s more than thirty stories and one hundred reviews, essays and interviews have appeared in magazines like Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Analog, Lightspeed, Nature, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Galaxy’s Edge, Lackington’s, and anthologies such as The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016, Cyber World, Humanity 2.0, and This Way to the End Times. Alvaro has a book review column at Intergalactic Medicine Show, a film review column at Words, and he edits the roundtable blog for Locus. He has a degree in Theoretical Physics from the Universidad Autónoma Madrid.
Ji:Could you share with us some information about yourself and your writing, Alvaro?
Alvaro:My parents were avid readers, inspiring a love of books in me at an early age. I grew up in Spain, the U.S., and Germany, and reading provided constancy during the times of changes. I found myself gravitating towards storytelling's more overtly imaginative possibilities. My curiosity led me to science, which I eventually studied, and to science fiction.
In the last decade or so I've published over fifty science fiction, fantasy, horror and weird stories in professional venues. I've also penned a few mainstream pieces, like last year's "The Cliff" in The Book of Extraordinary Femme Fatale Stories. I've published one non-fiction book, with another on the way, and have a novel coming out. I've also written droves of reviews and essays, mostly related to genre or genre-adjacent books.
Ji:what led you to become a science fiction writer?
Alvaro:Loneliness, and ego.
Ji:Can you share what written work has motivated or influenced you?
Alvaro:Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver, by the German writer Michael Ende, El Pirata Garrapata, by the Spanish writer Juan Muñoz Martín, Russell Hoban's The Mouse and His Child, and Fiódor Dostoyevski 's White Nights, were four early books that utterly transported me to other places. As a child, Gillian Rubinstein's Space Demons, which I wrote about for Tor.com, also moved me.
A little later, in my teenage and formative years, I discovered the whole pantheon of classic science fiction writers, and from there rapidly progressed to and fixated on the New Wave, specially short stories and novellas. I also enjoyed Golden Age stuff, and then-contemporary material (90s onward), while catching up on literary classics and exploring a lot of eclectic voices and poets along the way.
I'm often excited by the work of folks outside of genre, like Samuel Beckett or Ottessa Moshfegh, where the curvature of sensibility becomes difficult to differentiate from the skewness of reality itself. Growing up in Europe exposed me to literary artists I might have otherwise missed, for which I'm thankful.
Ji:Is inspiration necessary in writing? Why or why not?
Alvaro:I've found that parameters of constraint are helpful to me in my creative process—maybe it's the rebellious nature of a writer's mind craving a prison so that it can immediately set upon planning a great escape. The stimulating nature of restraints, thematic or otherwise, is one of the reasons I've enjoyed writing for many different anthologies, which often impose quite specific criteria.
Ji:What is the most favorite book you have written so far, and could you give a brief introduction?
Alvaro:I'm excited about my novel, forthcoming in September 2023, titled Equimedian. It's about a science fiction fan living in an alternate 1979 New York City where science fiction books are the same as ours but history is different. He's at a point of crisis in his life when he discovers the world may not be as it seems.
Ji:In recent years, China has experienced a surge in popularity of science fiction, particularly due to the success of the novel 'The Three-Body Problem'by Cixi Liu and its television adaptation. Have you read or watched it, and what is your opinion of it?
Alvaro:I haven't yet read The Three-Body Problem. I did get the chance to look at Hua Li’s Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw and would definitely recommend it. Li details the publication and reception of hundreds of works by dozens of fascinating writers, putting everything in its historical context.
Ji:What are your thoughts on Chat GPT, particularly with regards to Clarkesworld magazine cutting off submissions due to a flood of AI-generated stories recently?
Alvaro:I'm interested in the kinds of literature that AIs will develop in the future. I envision one AI writing a mega-novel that's 8 billion words long and its AI peer taking it all in and chuckling in appreciation of its majestic superstructure in 0.7 seconds, while three generations of humans couldn't read the whole thing even if they expended their entire lifetimes doing nothing else. AIs will put Proust and Knausgård in their place—not to mention the rest of us.
Ji:What are your thoughts on Cyberpunk nowadays? How do you think cyberpunk has influenced science fiction literature?
Alvaro:Cyberpunk can provide beautiful avenues with which to explore our technology-facilitated traumas. As long as we continue to unleash bruising inventions, cyberpunk will shade in the blues and purples.
I'm looking forward to seeing The Big Book of Cyberpunk, edited by Jared Shurin come out later this year. l note that it contains a reprint of my short story "wysiomg."
Our Cyberpunk spider lamp
takes inspiration from Alexander Trufanov
,Concept artist on Artstation and clarkesworldmagazine, and We use the art of remaking to turn it into an Assembled toy. What do you think about this combination?Is it possible to combine scifi story to our toys?
Alvaro:This has a beautifully eerie and striking design. The story weaves itself, so to speak.
Ji:Are you working on any new or upcoming projects? Can you introduce them to our readers?
Alvaro:Besides the novel Equimedian, to be published by Hex Publishers, I have a non-fiction book in the works titled Being Michael Swanwick. It's a series of interviews with the brilliant Michael Swanwick, taking a deep dive into his short fiction, and will be published by Fairwood Press, also later this year. It's intended as a tribute to a great writer, a discussion of craft, and an anecdotal genre history.
I have a new story in the anthology Multiverses, edited by Preston Grassman, and another in the upcoming Unioverse-related Stories of the Reconvergence anthology, edited by Angie Hodapp and Joshua Viola, with more in the works.