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 author Ann Leckie, who has published short stories in Subterranean Magazine, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, and other fine publications. Her story “Hesperia and Glory” was reprinted in Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, 2007 Edition edited by Rich Horton. Ann has worked as a waitress, a receptionist, a rodman on a land-surveying crew, and a recording engineer. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri. Her first published novel, Ancillary Justice, is available now from Orbit.
Join us as we cover subjects ranging from Philip Glass to laboratory refridgeration, and more!
What’s your favorite method of procrastination?
How to choose? There are so many. There’s Twitter, of course—just as soon as you think you’re caught up a bunch more people tweet and you just have to read what they have to say. And there’s research reading (which is doubly seductive because you can tell yourself you’re really working, and sometimes that’s true, but sometimes, not so much), and there’s writing blog posts—that’s an excellent one, a good, carefully written, long blog post can take all day and sometimes a couple of days!
Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.
Godzilla! Really, there’s no competition.
Would you rather discover the fountain of youth or proof of life on Mars?
Life on Mars! “Fountain of youth” is actually kind of ambiguous—does it mean a way to make everyone healthy and let them live indefinitely? Or are we talking about something that would reset you physically to the way you were in your youth, which for various reasons not all of us would be enthused about? Would it include internal things like maturity and skill and knowledge, so that yeah, you’re young again but also just as ignorant and inexperienced as before? Because in a lot of ways, being young kind of stinks and it’s much, much nicer to be a grownup.
Oh, gosh. That’s actually tough—I can think of a lot of music from different sources that would make a good soundtrack. If I were forced to choose one, it would be either Philip Glass or AfroCelt Sound System.
What D&D character alignment best describes you first thing in the morning?
Two roads diverge in a yellow wood: one leads toward a mysterious laboratory in which a mad scientist is currently ensconced. The other winds its way toward a tower inhabited by a powerful wizard. You could really use a snack, and it would be nice to have somewhere to crash for the night—which road do you choose?
I suspect the laboratory will be better lit, probably heated or air conditioned, and have decent refrigeration facilities (and thus less chance of foodborne illness) and indoor plumbing. Towers can be damp and drafty, not to mention inhabited by spiders. I don’t know how long that stew’s been over the fire or if it’s been kept at a safe temperature for all of that time. I’ll take my chances with the scientist.
What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?
Pretty much Andre Norton. I read way, way more Andre Norton than could possibly have been healthy. It was a short hop from her to the rest of the library’s science fictional and fantastic holdings.
What’s the most embarrassing guilty pleasure you’ll admit to? (music, movies, pop culture, food, drink, etc…all fair game!)
So, actually, I don’t really have guilty pleasures. I like what I like, and I don’t worry too much about whether it’s supposed to be cool or sophisticated or show that I have good or bad taste or whatever. But I do realize the impulse to classify people by the food and art they consume is strong—sometimes I have to remind myself not to do that.
Which language, real or fictional, would you like the ability to speak fluently? Who would you talk to?
I think I’d like to speak Ragi. If nothing else, it would improve my math! And of course, one would be honored beyond measure to speak to the paidhi aiji and his aishid, or Cajeiri or ’Sidi-ji.