Interview with Ian Williams, author of scifi novel The Clockmaker’s Tale
In The Clockmaker’s Tale: and other stories, Ian Williams takes us to the near future and beyond. From a moon base where androids conduct experiments on human test subjects, to futuristic tours of the ocean depths that hide a terrible secret; from a society governed by harsh rule of law that is enforced by AI, to a humble clockmaker tempted by the promise of increased productivity through technological augmentation.
Covering issues such as environmental decay, the end of facts and proven truths, our growing waste problem, and humanity’s tendency to divide when we should come together, this collection of six science fiction stories relates as much to our time as it does to the many possible futures.
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We lost the Earth today. Well, not physically lost it. It’s still there. In fact, I’m looking at it right now, as I write this report. No, I just mean that we’ve lost contact with it. Earth ‘went dark’ (as Test Subject #47 put it), never to see the light again. What light? You may ask. The light of a stable civilisation is the best answer I can currently offer you.
As I sit here staring at that blue marble in space, I swear I can hear the last of the bombs dropping, smell the stench of decay stretching across every continent, feel the last vibrations of warring nations. You may think I’m being overly dramatic, and you’d be mostly correct. The past ten years have been hard to bear, watching as the people who created me descended further into chaos. They gave me life, now I fight to save theirs.
Even though all communications have ceased, I will continue my work in silence. But don’t fear, dear future reader, I am not alone out here. There is another here just like me. We share this moon-based facility equally as we do our work. His name is Arthur (originally designated R4).
“Today sees you fully functional, Rachel?” Arthur greeted me with this morning. He’s trying something new today, something a little more personal than my model number; I was originally designated R8CH-L.
An Interview with Ian Williams
-What inspired you to become a writer?
Throughout my childhood, I was surrounded by books. They were scattered about the place, from the kitchen table to the shelf in the upstairs bathroom. I can remember vividly my father’s immense love for books. He read a varied selection too. One day it might be John le Carré, the next it could be John Wyndham, and then the next could be a Stephen King novel. He was a member of a book subscription club, and I would often watch in childish amazement as he opened the box of hardback books that were delivered to our door each month. That began my love for books and storytelling, which inevitably led to writing my own.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
Out of the six stories featured in The Clockmaker’s Tale: and other stories, there is only one I would choose to visit for a day, and that is the world of The Last Bus to Freedom. Written with a focus on the action, it tells the story of a small group of POWs as they attempt a daring escape from a future war prison. There are many elements to this story that are touched upon which I would love to explore further. Plus, who wouldn’t be excited by the thrill of an escape? The question is, would I survive this world, even for a day visit? I have my doubts.
-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
George, the main character of the title story, The Clockmaker’s Tale, I expect, would shake me awake and insist I prove to him that this world is real. In the story, he is enticed into trying a brand-new piece of technology that allows a person to continue working while their mind is asleep. But when such a thing goes wrong and there is a growing suspicion of deception, the mind will struggle to believe what is and is not real. George would warn me not to follow in his footsteps.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
I think that would have to be Rachel (designated R8CH-L by her makers) from the story, 10,000. The chance to converse with an android over drinks (if that is, androids consume liquids) is too good to pass up. I would love to understand how such a being sees the world and the humans that shaped it.
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
I would ask Lieutenant Commander Data to scan the strange lifeform to discern its weaknesses, ask Counselor Troi to give me a summary of my adversary’s mental state, then request that Lieutenant Worf beam down with his favourite Bat’leth (Klingon weapon). Meanwhile, I would have Commander Riker come up with a possible way to end the hostilities through peaceful negotiations.
Sorry, did I forget to mention that in this scenario I am Star Trek’s Captain Picard and this all happened on an unknown alien planet?
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
There are no genres that I would rule out entirely. However, there a few that I tend to gravitate towards. I prefer writing Sci-Fi, Horror, and the odd thriller story because I understand those genres better. But those that I shy away from will always remain an option if a good story idea comes to me that fits into one of these other genres. I never lock those doors behind me, only keep them ajar, in case I want to use them in future.
About Ian Williams
Ian Williams is a Science Fiction writer from the UK. He lives in a small town not far from London. Ian had a short career in the UK Court Service but was forced to quit that job when his medical condition worsened. Now, from the comfort of his wheelchair, he writes the stories he has always wanted to read. His writing spans lightyears of space, to near-future Earths; from small changes to society, to entirely new civilisations.
Find him online:
Ian Williams will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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