The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Karina Sumner-Smith

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by Karina Sumner-Smith, a Canadian fantasy author. Her short fiction has appeared in The Living Dead 2, The Best Horror of the Year Volume Three, and Children of Magic, and her work has been nominated for the Nebula Award. Her new novel, Radiant, is the first book in the Towers trilogy—available now from Talos!

We definitely want to visit Karina’s dream-shop in Diagon Alley. Join us to find out why we love it so much!

Do you have a favorite under-read author?

Sean Stewart. I absolutely love his fantasy novels—Mockingbird and Galveston especially. Nuanced and beautiful work. Of course, he’s happily writing for games these days, but I still yearn to read the books he’ll never write.

Battle to the death, which weapon do you choose: A) Phaser, B) Lightsaber, or C) Wand?

Really, how could I choose anything but a lightsaber? (I grew up watching Star Wars instead of Saturday morning cartoons; it might have influenced my thoughts on the matter.) Now as to the color of my lightsaber… well, that’s still up for debate.

What’s your favorite sandwich?

A bacon and tomato sandwich. And by that I mean thick slices of fresh summer tomato, crispy bacon, homemade mayonnaise, and a little sea salt and ground pepper for seasoning, all on lightly toasted cashew bread. Lettuce need not apply.

Karina Sumner-Smith RadiantWhat literary or film science fiction technology do you wish existed in our world right now?

A teleporter, no question. To travel the world in an instant? Watch the Northern Lights in the Northwest Territories, see the sun rise from a mountaintop, go for a quick swim in the Caribbean—and then pop home for a nice pancake breakfast. And just imagine my options for fresh groceries!

Though there are some days when I’d use a teleporter for nothing more exotic than jumping to visit with far-flung friends, or even see a new movie without the hours of driving time otherwise required. I’d risk being turned inside-out or being materialized in solid rock for that.

If you could open a new shop in Diagon Alley, what would you sell?

I’d have a magical tea shop. There’d be walls of special teas kept in mismatched jars and tins, only some of them labeled, others dusty and just slightly out of reach. There would be a few little tables and chairs outside for when the weather’s nice, and thick clay mugs that keep the tea warm on even the coldest days, and special offerings of tea-infused pastries, cookies, and little crumbly-topped muffins.

Though, I admit, I think tea already has semi-magical properties. Tea makes everything better.

What is your ideal pet (real or fictional)?

A fire lizard. I’d say a dragon—though I rather imagine that the care and feeding of a full dragon would be somewhat problematic on a freelance writer’s income.

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