Tony Clavelli’s story “The Sound Barrier” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 8 April 2016.
There’s a sort of subgenre in SF that I call “future impossible jobs.” It is fun to imagine what people will be doing for work when new opportunities arise, but even more fun to imagine the kinds of problems those people will face. When I began writing “The Sound Barrier,” my girlfriend had recently acquired an incredibly incompetent coworker. She told me stories funny and frustrating stories about him, and I twisted that around into my main character’s husband, Chris (named after the offending coworker). Since the source was someone I loved, it all blended together into something sadder than I expected when I set out.
The setting was important for writing this piece. I minored in astronomy and astrophysics as an undergrad, and I fell in love with the Jovian moons then. The possibility of water, and maybe even life, excited me. I like putting stories in places that are real and inserting normal people into those worlds, because then I can imagine being there myself. In this story, and it’s only in the periphery, I imagine myself as Captain Cho, setting out to explore the ocean beneath the ice.
Finally, there’s the sound element. I was recording an album with my band in Seoul at the time, and thinking about audio and how deeply it affects experiences. I’d never done anything like recording track by track before. It was slow and tedious, but hearing the pieces come together, it was strange and nice too. How the details matter. We soundtrack so much of our lives–what if someone else did that for us? That’s what I wanted to explore.
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