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 Lavie Tidhar, the World Fantasy Award winning author of such books as Osama and of The Violent Century. Lavie works across genres, combining detective and thriller modes with poetry, science fiction and historical and autobiographical material. His latest novel, A Man Lies Dreaming, is available now in the UK from Hodder & Stoughton.
Join us as Lavie faces our toughest question yet—what’s the best sandwich?
Do you have a favorite under-read author?
I think in science fiction, Cordwainer Smith. I adore him. He’s influenced a lot of what I’ve been doing with my short story “future history” cycle, as well as my novella Cloud Permutations. And my other favourite is C.L. Moore. She’s influenced Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God, and its companion volume (which is out now), Black Gods Kiss (the title is of course a reference to Moore’s classic short story). And I have a fun story in a forthcoming anthology from George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Old Venus, called “The Drowned Celestial”—which I kind of think of as “Brokeback Mountain on Venus”—and it’s homage to Moore’s hero Northwest Smith.
Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?
Two things I never managed to find, rather than the other way around. When I was researching Osama I tried to find out what exact make of shoes the “shoe bomber” used, and couldn’t (I’ve seen hints online to a sort of cover up by the global shoe industry, so there you have it! You heard it here first).
And the other thing was for my new novel, A Man Lies Dreaming—I spent about two years living in Adolf Hitler’s head, but one thing we’ll never know for sure is if he really had only one testicle or not. I suspect it was effective propaganda but, like a lot of elements of Hitler’s private life, I don’t think we’ll never prove it one way or the other.
What’s your favorite sandwich?
This is such a difficult question. I don’t think you can beat a hot salt beef bagel however, with gherkin and hot mustard. From the legendary Beigel Bake on Brick Lane in London, ideally!
If you could design a line of clothing/accessories based on your favorite fictional character, what would it look like?
It’s funny, in that I actually sort of get to do that now. I’ve got a forthcoming comics mini-series/graphic novel from Titan, called Adler—it’s a sort of “league of extraordinary gentlewomen,” I think that’s the pitch. And so I’ve been working with my artist (the amazing Paul McCaffrey, and believe me, you’ll be hearing a lot more about this guy when it’s done) and I’m kind of saying, Paul, you know, there’s this vaguest possibility that someone might actually one day cosplay one of these characters! So we really need to think about the costumes. So they’re these cool Victorian steampunky outfits. You’ll see them soon, I hope!
Choose your dream cast for a Hollywood adaptation of your book.
The “hero” of A Man Lies Dreaming is Wolf, an Adolf Hitler who never came to power in 1933. And the conception I’ve always had of the character (which was made visual in an earlier graphic novel of mine, Adolf Hitler’s “I Dream of Ants!”) was: “It’s Hitler, but without the moustache.”
And my artist on that graphic novel, Neil Struthers, had a blog post about it that, to draw Hitler without the moustache, you had to draw him with it and then take it off. Otherwise it’s just a guy.
So who could play this guy? Obviously Gary Oldman already did a sort of future Hitler in The Fifth Element, as Zorg, but personally I’d be curious to see George Clooney do it. He’d need the slicked back hair and slightly crooked walk and a sort of barely-suppressed anger throughout that just informs everything Wolf does or says in the book. Less Chaplin, more Bogart. I think Peter Lorre would have been amazing doing it. It needs to be equal charm and creepiness!