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 Ben Peek, an Australian author who lives in Sydney with books, a cat, and a photographer named Nik. He has written several books and contributed to many, many anthologies. His first novel in the Children trilogy, The Godless, publishes August 19 from Tor Books in the US and Thomas Dunne in the UK.
What is your favorite short story?
‘Why Don’t You Dance?’ by Raymond Carver.
I could pick another story on another day, but I do love Carver unreservedly. I particularly like the final lines of the story, but I won’t spoil them here, in case someone plans to go and read it. In which case, you should.
Do you have a favorite under-read author?
I think Anna Tambour is criminally under-read. Her novel, Crandolin, was released last year by Chomu Press, and is excellent for anyone who is a lover of good fiction. She will have a new short story collection out next year by Twelfth Planet Press, which I urge everyone to check out.
Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?
At one point, I found myself down the medieval torture device hole of the internet. The brazen bull, a brass, life sized casting of a bull was one of the oddest. It had a trapdoor in it and a person would be put inside, before the bull was pulled over an open fire and cooked alive. Apparently, there was an opening in the mouth for steam, but also so that the screams of the person could be heard—they were delightfully amplified from within.
What’s the most embarrassing guilty pleasure you’ll admit to?
I have a real weakness for Generation One Transformers. Only Generation One. I loved them as a kid, and I will, when I have the money, search occasionally for the toys that I could not afford but deeply desired as a child.
Heroes vs. Villains—which are more fun to write?
Well, anti-heroes, really. Both villains and heroes are a bit boring, really, unless they’re flawed and broken, somehow. If they’re not flawed and broken, then clearly they need to be broken and made flawed. That’s what an author does, if he or she has any dignity.
What kind of apocalypse (zombie, robot, environmental, etc.) is most compatible with your survival skills? And what kind of apocalypse would you like to avoid at all costs?
Y’know that peace apocalypse that everyone talks about? You know, the one where we all become peaceful and all industries of violence stop and our world is forever changed in a fire that destroys military industries? That one. That’s the apocalypse I could survive. I could totally get by without my guns.
I’d like to avoid the environmental apocalypse, if I could. Zombies, robots, I don’t know, I’d probably do alright hidden in the middle of the herd, and sacrificing people to keep myself alive—but where you gonna hide when all the food is gone?
And by that, I mean all the people.
List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.
My work is not a survival guide to any of the above apocalypses. I’m sorry, it’s just not. I know how tempting it is to think that a book with dead gods everywhere offers salvation, but I am afraid it is not today.
My books do not turn into a robot, especially not a Generation One Transformer. If they did turn into anything, it would probably be a sword, and the fwoosh, the sword could catch fire…
Probably not what you want a book to do, though, I guess. I mean, with all that paper.
And, lastly, I am sad to report that Raymond Carver did not endorse my book. I suspect it was because he was dead, but doesn’t everyone hanging out for the zombie apocalypse have that excuse these days?