Friday, July 14, 2006

The Interview Meme

Here's how it works:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."

2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your journal with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

I put myself at Greg's mercy, and here's what he asked:

1. Do you ever fear that we're writing fiction mostly for the people who read our blogs and hang out with us at cons?

Some, sure. (They're cool people, though.) With as few short fiction readers as there are in general, and in the genre in particular, it's hard to tell how much attention folks really pay to what we do. Still, I think that the Intranets have been a really good thing for short fiction, 'cause of the accessibility of archives at places like Strange Horizons and the plethora of links pointing folks at good stuff. I hear periodically from readers whom I've never met, and it does seem to be true that for every person who speaks up and says "I liked that," there are ten others paying attention. So I think that the online profile is a huge factor in visibility among people who like the sort of stuff we do.

2. Did you adopt a different persona when you tended bar?

Y'know, I made good money slinging drinks, but I don't think it was because of my personality. I'm bad at being anybody but myself. Which is not to say that myself is not a scintillating fella, but there's a definite art to the schmooze and I never mastered it. It takes an ability to be (or at least fake being) comfortable with just about anyone, and to make them feel comfortable, without actually presuming any real connection. And the truth is that in most situations I'm very shy. I can't be "on" at the drop of a hat. So the folks who sat at a bar hoping to be entertained didn't get what they wanted from me.

That said, when I worked tech support I did adopt another personality in order to relive the soul-crushing boredom. "Cyrus" was much more patient with folks who didn't understand that their computer needed to be turned on in order to connect to the Internet. Sometimes I miss Cyrus.

3. African, Indian, wooly mammoth, columbian mammoth, pygmy . . . Who's your best friend?

I'm partial to African elephants, I have to say, on account of the big ears and the way they fit into their landscape . . . there's something about a family of pachyderms crossing a dry plain, with a cloud of dust kicking up behind them, that is terribly majestic and fragile and wonderful. But don't tell the other elephants, 'cause really I like 'em all.

4. You're dropped in a foreign country, you know nobody, you've lost your wallet, you don't speak the language ... and you're starving. What's the first thing you do?

Man, this is a tough one. I suppose the first thing I'd do is kill one of the local dragons. Not only would this raise my estimation in the eyes of the local inhabitants (except for possibly the dragons), but it'd be something to eat. I'd be sure to take a taste of the dragon's raw blood before cooking up some of his flesh, since everyone knows that dragon's blood gives you the ability to understand bird language. I'd ask the birds where the nearest town was, what their favorite discos were, and who'd pay good money for dragon hide, teeth, bones, etc. Although probably I wouldn't want to sell the entire hide. I'd want to cut out a vest, first, for protection against xenophobic locals. Maybe some pants, too. Although leather pants really tend to cut off my circulation . . . chaps, then. Maybe gloves and a cap, too, if I was cold. Then I'd offer one of the birds a payment of dragon giblets to be my translator. Her name would probably be "Beetle-Chaser" or something like that. We'd head into town, and I'm sure there'd be some sort of difficulty to overcome there. There'd probably be a local sheriff or disco owner or some sort who resented my presence, and a young woman, small child, or fashion designer who needed my aid, so I'd have to spend some time sorting all that out. I consider myself a pacifist, so I'd prefer to talk things out, but for a lot of folks the fighting is sort of ritual. So there'd probably be some kind of battle royale, and things would look bad for me, and then suddenly there'd be an unexpected ally, or perhaps the dragon chaps would come into play in an unexpected way, or maybe Beetle-Chaser would turn the tide in a humorously unintended way. Perhaps there'd be a beetle on the dance floor during the disco contest or something, and in her dogged pursuit of it she would manage to trip up my antagonist's henchmen, thereby evening the fight. (Or dance-off.) Then the fashion designer or young woman or small child would give me some token of their affection--maybe a snazzy pair of boots, or a peck on the cheek, or maybe some mysterious object which is inextricably linked to my destiny--and I would be on my way out of town with my bird friend, my chaps gleaming in the sun, still trying to find my way home.

5. Will there be libraries in 50 years? What will they look like?

We talked about this a lot in my Master's program; at least, we talked about the fact that libraries are in the midst of a huge shift in focus. There are far too many books being published today for any library to collect them all, and some people are operating under the belief that all the information anyone could need is on the Internet. There are three problems with that last assumption. 1) There's plenty of information that isn't on the Internet, and even with things like Google's digital library initiative, it would take decades of concentrated effort to put "everything" at your fingertips. 2) Plenty of what is on the Internet isn't free, and the cost of subscribing to many databases is prohibitive for individuals. 3) There's a lot of BAD information on the Internet, and not all users (particularly young users) are cognizant enough of this to consider the authority of their sources.

For those reasons, and plenty of others--a need for community space being one of the most important--we'll still need libraries in fifty years. Whether we'll still have them will depend on a lot of things; the willingness of the government and the public to fund them, whether current copyright trends continue (extension, consolidation, etc.), and whether, on the other side, libraries can continue to serve as helpful gatekeepers to information on the printed page as well as to the exponentially increasing number of pages on the 'net.

Finally, in the future, libraries will look like a series of tubes.


Blogger haddayr said...

Do me, baby.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curse you, dragon murderer!

10:39 AM  

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