The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: John Shirley

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 John Shirley, author of more than a dozen books, including Demons; Crawlers; City Come A-Walkin’; Really, Really, Really, Really, Weird Stories; and the classic cyberpunk trilogy A Song Called Youth: Eclipse, Eclipse Penumbra, and Eclipse Corona. He is the recipient of the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award and won the International Horror Guild Award for his collection Black Butterflies. His novella, Z-Boyz in the Robot Graveyard, is available from IDW Publishing. He also writes songs for the Blue Oyster Cult!

Join us as we cover subjects ranging from Frank Zappa to The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more!

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

Let’s see… no, I can’t tell you that—the statute of limitations hasn’t expired yet. Oh, how about this: I feel that I’m from Mars, although no one is.

Here’s a two-parter: If you could go back in time and change one thing in the past, what would it be? And if you could time-travel to the future, who or what would you most like to see?

Soon before World War II, Jewish refugees from the Nazis were turned away by the USA. I would go back and work to change that, so that we let them in, instead. As for the future, I’d want to see the end of time, of course.

Z-boyz in the Robot Graveyard John ShirleyDescribe your favorite place to read or write?

To read, in bed; to write, only at my desk. I wish I could say, “in a treehouse” or “a cave” but—not true. Treehouses shake in the wind, and caves are too chilly.

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

“Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett. “I’m never gonna care about my bad reputation…”

If you could name a planet after anyone (other than yourself), who would you choose and why?

Frank Zappa because he deserves one. He created a galaxy of musical expression.

Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.

The creature from the black lagoon—left over from junior high school. All junior high school boys identify with the creature because they all think girls find them ugly and disgusting.

Would you rather discover the fountain of youth or proof of life on Mars?

A better person than me would prefer proof of life on Mars (but as I said, I am proof of life on Mars).

Choose your preferred fictional vacation spot: Narnia or Middle Earth (or some other fictional realm)…

That Halloween land in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

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

Edgar Rice Burroughs books, George Pal movies like The Time Machine, and then Robert Heinlein novels.

What’s the most embarrassing guilty pleasure you’ll admit to? (music, movies, pop culture, food, drink, etc… all fair game!)

Singing along with Iggy Pop or Mick Jagger.

If you, as a ghost, could regularly haunt one celebrity, author, or literary figure, who would it be?

Edgar Allan Poe.

Which language, real or fictional, would you like the ability to speak fluently? Who would you talk to?

French. Cyrano de Bergerac.

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