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Five Questions with Lavie Tidhar

This month’s story from Lavie Tidhar, The Hubbard Continuum, is a lot of fun. It takes Scientology at its word and considers the implications. Lavie is a prolific author who’s quickly establishing himself as one of the new voices of modern science fiction. Although he is legendarily elusive, Lavie took time to answer a few questions for us. I think you’ll enjoy the results.

What is most memorable about living on a kibbutz?
Crikey, there’s a question! I think I’ll answer it as a lead in to the next question: living on a kibbutz is a lot like living on a remote South Pacific island. I don’t mean it entirely facetiously – there really is a remarkable similarity as both systems (kibbutz and village) are to a large extent communal. Of course, a village comes without the Marxist ideology – I can still say “the dictatorship of the proletariat” without blinking and have a life-long aversion to any form of committee, both of which are ubiquitous in a kibbutz environment.

It was a weird way to grow up – communal children’s houses, I remember, for instance, our clothes – we used to go the kibbutz laundry once a year and they’d put a big pile of last year’s clothes on the floor, and we’d go and pick our clothes for that year. I guess it was a mix of Oliver Twist and Das Kapital!

I guess the best way to think about it now is to say: it wasn’t all bad.

How does one arrange to live on Vanuatu?
Generally, if you’re not a Ni-Vanuatu, you need to be either a dodgy Australian land speculator or an American Peace Corps volunteer. I’ve drunk with both, at various times.

Ok, that’s probably not entirely fair, but…

Living in Vanuatu was remarkable – in many ways, as I said, it reminded me of growing up on a kibbutz, so there was that weird sense of familiarity about it – I’d like to think I fit in quite well! We lived on one of the most remote islands, Vanua Lava – no electricity, phones, clean water – but incredibly beautiful, with the volcano outside my bamboo hut and the full moon beating down on the Pacific…

It was interesting!

In Pacmandu is a personal favorite of mine among your stories. For what games, if any, do you still make time?
Do you know, I hardly play computer games – I even gave up on Spider Solitaire a while back. Which is a shame… I used to have an Atari 800XL I the 1980s (yup, that old!) and I just don’t think anything since has compared. Though I played Kinect for the first time at a friend’s place and wow – science fiction!

I think I have a secret dream of becoming a warlord/crime boss in some virtual world like Second Life and have entire sweatshops of people working for me… that’d be kinda cool! And wrong, sure, but one can dream, right?

They look like fun to me and are on my list – so should I read The Bookman and Camera Obscura?
Of course!

More seriously – I mean, was I really supposed to say no? – I think they’re both fun books – I had a lot of fun writing them – and at the same time I hope they have some ambition of talking about bigger things, too. But mostly fun! They’re the sort of weird Victorian adventure fantasies – though I call Camera Obscura a kung fu noir novel! – harking back to the stuff you love as a kid. They mix genres, which I enjoy doing. I’m working on the third book at the moment, The Great Game, which is essentially a spy novel set in the same world. Just to give you a taste, I get to destroy Paris with sort of Martian tripods and have Van Helsing fighting the Comte de Rochefort in the catacombs – and that’s just one chapter!

If, for whatever reason, you don’t enjoy that sort of thing – keep away!

Could you tell us a little about the other works you have coming out this year?
I probably have too much stuff coming out this year, to be honest. It sort of worked out that way. April sees the release of Camera Obscura in both the US and the UK, and of my PS Publishing novella Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God. I’ll be at the British Eastercon, btw, so if anyone’s around… buy me a drink, I’m poor!

I have two more novels scheduled for 2011 – Osama from PS Publishing, and Martian Sands from Apex Books. Both kinda trippy, edgy work – one’s about love and the “war on terror” and the other’s about time travel, the Holocaust and kibbutzim on Mars.

Then there’s Jesus & The Eightfold Path, a novella from British-based Immersion Press (cool guys) – which is a sort of kung-fu retelling of the New Testament but, at the same time, I think, a book about what it means to be a Jew. Then there’s my anthology, The Apex Book of World SF 2, with some great writers in it, my weird picture book Going to the Moon (about a boy with Tourette’s, who wants to be an astronaut), and – how many’s that? Six books? I think that’s probably enough, for now!

Sounds like a busy year. Thanks again for taking the time. We hope to hear from you again soon.


1 Redstone Science Fiction #10, March 2011 | Redstone Science Fiction { 03.02.11 at 1:10 pm }

[…] This World or Bust: Themes of Escaping and Dooming Earth in Recent SciFi by Henry Cribbs Interviews Five Questions with Lavie Tidhar by Michael […]

2 Free SF - Not Free SF MegaBlog { 03.03.11 at 11:49 pm }

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