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 authors Steven Brust and Skyler White—their upcoming novel The Incrementalists is available September 24th from Tor Books! Brust is the author of twenty-six novels, including the Vlad Taltos series and The Khaavren Romances. He also has one solo record. White’s novels are populated with angels and rock stars, scientists, demons and revolutionaries, and her dark stories explore the secret places where myth and modernity collide.
Join us as we cover subjects ranging from interstellar vacations to WB Yeats, and more!
Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.
Steven Brust: Dracula
Would you rather discover the fountain of youth or proof of life on Mars?
SB: I’d rather discover proof of the fountain of youth on Mars.
What D&D character alignment best describes you first thing in the morning?
SB: Chaotic neutral
Choose your preferred fictional vacation spot: Narnia or Middle Earth (or some other fictional realm)…
SB: For a vacation, oh man, put me on Serenity!
What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?
SB: Every Boy’s Book of Science Fiction (not sure who wrote it, was in my Christmas Stocking one year)
What’s the most embarrassing guilty pleasure you’ll admit to? (music, movies, pop culture, food, drink, etc…all fair game!)
SB: It’s a tough call between “The Cutting Edge” and circus peanuts.
Name your three favorite fictional villains of all time. Alternately: Heroes vs. Villains―which are more fun to write?
SB: Heroes are more fun to write, because you get to make them horribly flawed, but you still must make the reader sympathize with them. I love walking that line.
Cast the main characters of your new/upcoming novel (in other words, choose your dream cast for a Hollywood adaptation of your book).
SB: Phil: Lou Diamond Phillips
Ren: Summer Glau or Felicia Day
Oskar: Alexander Skaarsgard
Irina: Nichelle Nichols
Ramon: Lance Reddick
Jimmy: Sayed Badreya
Celeste: Meryl Streep or Susan Sarandon
If you were secretly going to write fanfic (or, even better, slashfic) about any two characters, who would they be?
SB: I don’t think I could write it, but I would love to see crossover fanfic of Toby from The West Wing being treated for some horrid disease by House.
Do you have a favorite word/phrase/etymology?
Skyler White: Petrichor—I love it for its definition and its etymology. It means the smell of rain after drought, and it derives from the Greek words for stone and for the blood in the veins of the gods. Smells like redemption.
Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?
SW: It’s hard to pick a single strangest thing about the Victorians,—pregnancy corsets, phrenology, jewelry made from hair (human, horse, cat) opium parlors, but their “hidden mother” photos—in which portraits of children are staged with the mom disguised as a chair or awkward curtain—are pretty dang weird.
If you could name a planet after anyone (other than yourself), who would you choose and why?
SW: I’m going to cheat this just a little and ask to name not a planet, but a moon, for WB Yeats. Ideally it’d be a moon with a slowly decaying orbit around a reddish planet (which we could go all kinds of crazy and call “Maud”) but the moon I would have called “Gyre.”