The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

Space Badasses and Cranking Basslines: Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Pop Quiz Interview

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 Nicole Kornher-Stace, author of Desideria, Demon Lovers and Other Difficulties, and The Winter Triptych. Her latest novel, Archivist Wasp, publishes May 5th from Small Beer Press—you can read an excerpt here! Find her on Twitter @wirewalking.

Join us to find out which future tech Nicole has valiantly offered to test drive for the sake of humanity!

Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.

The first thing I ever wrote was a rhyming couplet at the age of two, which I wrote down and my mom kept. The first thing of any length I remember writing was at the age of 10 or 12—ridiculous self-insert Star Wars fanfic wherein I teamed up with Boba Fett and we went off to be space badasses together. Only now as I type this do I realize how precious little I have changed in the years since.

What is your favorite short story?

I’m not sure I have one favorite. “Jack Daw’s Pack” by Greer Gilman is the last short story I remember reading that muscled its way into my head and gnawed on my brain for a few days while I frantically tried to figure out what it wanted and how to convince it to leave. That, for me, only happens once every several years and it’s the best part of discovering a new-to-me writer. You write something that takes over my brain for the better part of a week, I’ll read you forever.

The most fun short story I’ve read recently was absolutely, hands down, no question: “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander. If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, go on and give it a peek. Trust me. I’ll wait.

Describe your favorite place to read or write.

Archvist WaspI do the actual words-into-file part of writing at my desk, though I hate chairs and sitting still and staring at a screen for hours. Unfortunately I’m incapable of writing longhand or dictating. For some reason the sentence-level-writing part of my brain is only activated when I type. So I do a lot of the plotting/ideamaking part of writing while walking. I think so much more clearly when I’m moving around.

I’ll read anywhere. I particularly love reading outside on a nice day. I am right now glaring balefully out the window at the two feet of filthy snowpack in my yard.

If you could choose your own personal theme music to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?

The Pacific Rim theme. Crank up the bass.

Do you have a favorite unknown author?

I feel odd answering this one because it’s not like I’m famous myself, but way more people should be reading Ysabeau Wilce and Patty Templeton. You want something unlike anything else you’ve ever read before, you can’t go wrong with either of them.

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

Lightsaber. Definitely. I mean, if I’m magically able to wield it without lopping my own parts off. Realistically, there’s gonna be quite a bit of an unforgiving learning curve there, and I’m pretty prone to Clumsy Misadventures. What about if I got a wand that produced lightsabers that come with lightsaber trainers? Or lightsabers that know not to damage their owners? Can those be a thing? I’ll take one of those, please. I’d like it to be in that weird piercing blue that I only tend to come across in some Christmas tree lights. I have a strange relationship with that color. It sears my poor light-sensitive eyes and I adore it.

What literary or film science fiction technology do you wish existed in our world right now?

I know everybody’s going to say “teleportation” for this, and so was I, but! I think I want to stretch the question slightly and say PORTAL GUN. But if everyone could just go out and buy one at the mall, things could get pretty messy pretty fast. So we’d better start with just the one. I hereby volunteer to field test it. And the anti-fall-damage boots that come with it, ’course.

What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?

When I was in fourth grade, I had to do a diorama book report, but nothing in the school library jumped out at me that I hadn’t already read. So my dad let me loose in his old-school SF collection, and for a while there existed in the world a The Stars My Destination shoebox diorama. Rendered in LEGO.

What is your ideal pet (real or fictional)?

I’m pretty fond of ferrets, which are basically like puppies that never grow up. But they are the most accident-prone creatures on the planet, because they like to tunnel into stuff and they can fit. into. anything. They like to do things like climb up into recliner chairs and take naps in the laundry pile on its way into the washing machine. I’m sitting here trying to picture a golden retriever-sized ferret. It’d either be the best or the worst pet ever. Let’s teach it how to make coffee while we’re at it. And run errands. What could possibly go wrong?

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