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 Tom Fletcher, author of standalone horror novels The Leaping, The Thing on the Shore and The Ravenglass Eye. Gleam, the first novel in Fletcher’s new fantasy trilogy The Factory, is available now in the UK from Jo Fletcher books.
What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?
An undead undertaker. Quite a nice frockcoat and top hat, a dirty shovel, good make-up, and some very realistic cobwebs. It’s just a shame that it I wore it to work in a call-centre, and not somewhere more interesting. It’s something to be aware of when you ring some customer services department up; in those places, people dress up a lot.
Cast the main characters for a film or TV adaptation of your new novel.
Wild Alan would have to be played by the young Nick Cave—circa Kicking Against The Pricks. (Doable via CGI, probably?) Bloody Nora should definitely be played by Grimes. Churr by Noomi Rapace. I think Kristofer Hivju would be perfect for Eyes—in full Tormund Giantsbane mode for the young Eyes, and then playing the older Eyes very differently. Spider Kurt is more or less based on Warren Ellis (the Bad Seed, not the writer) so Ellis would play him in my dream adaptation, too.
If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your latest book, who would it be?
Tom Waits. I think a lot of his protagonists would fit right in in the Discard; the precariousness, the decay, the diet, and the crumbling architecture would suit them down to the ground. But I’d want it instrumental; that thing he somehow does that manages to be both industrial and rural gothic
Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.
The Gelatinous Cube, from Dungeons and Dragons. A ten-foot cube of transparent ooze. Just so daft.
What is your favorite short story?
I love ‘Crabs’ by Haruki Murakami. Calm, simple, completely disgusting, and deeply resonant.
Do you have a favorite word?
Utopia. It doesn’t mean ‘good place’, it means ‘no-place’. It means, in a way, ‘imaginary place’. Somewhere that doesn’t really exist. Quite possibly it’s a favourite word because I grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy, which obviously are full of utopias.
I love the word Dystopia, too. It’s handy to have shorthands for ‘good imaginary place’ and ‘bad imaginary place’. (And dystopia is lovely to say). But also, being able to separate the words and concepts like that reminds us that they’re one and the same thing. An individual’s most perfect world has to house people with different values to that individual, and so it won’t be perfect for them. For them, that utopia is a dystopia.
Except Gleam’s Pyramid. The Pyramid is completely utopic in every possible way, of course.
What literary or film science fiction technology do you wish existed in our world right now?
Iain M. Banks’ Culture AIs. Then they can get to work on the post-scarcity society and ships and suits and neural laces and orbitals and everything else. (I don’t think that’s cheating).