A question for Jason P. Burnham

Q: [What book or books inspired you as a child?

A: Many, so many. In third grade, I had a reading award named after me by my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Charlene Joachim (RIP). I think I read something like 128 books that year. The next year, another kid smashed it with like 200 (?), but it was awesome to inspire others to read. Books that I haven’t looked up and don’t know if they stand the test of time, but still have warm memories of include:

The second book in the Boxcar Children series, Surprise Island. The kids were just out there, on their own, having a good time. The image/feeling I still remember from this book was independence and a sense of wonder, particularly with loft-style dwellings (oddly specific, I know).

Lots of people were probably inspired by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but The Voyage of the Dawn Treader sticks out to me the most. My memory is of them sailing through the ocean, seeing mysterious civilizations under the waters and the awe that came with reading that. Maybe the water was even made out of sugar? It was incredible. I know there’s a lot of religious symbolism in those books, but I remember it for the wonderment at the worldbuilding.

The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher: I actually read this second book in the Tripods trilogy first. It was a wild ride to drop in to, but I just remember the fascination of an adolescent being in a foreign place, discovering things. So cool.

Are you still a child in sixth grade? If so, I’ll add Sphere by Michael Crichton, recommended by my teacher that year. Writing class with Ms. Imrie was when I first discovered people could actually write things. Sphere was a trip as a sixth-grader and the general aura of omniscient creepiness that I attribute to that book is why I think I like movies like those in the Alien franchise. I’m talking about the scenes before the peak action when everyone is starting to realize that they’re in big trouble. Think the wheat scene in Alien Covenant when it’s otherwise silent except the wind and they realize there are no animals at all.

For some reason, these four stand out the most. If you ask me next week, I might say Encyclopedia Brown, Tales of the Bounty Hunters, and Jurassic Park.


Jason P. Burnham’s story “Revitalized
in Metaphorosis Friday, 3 April 2020.
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Another question for Matt Hornsby

Q: If you could have a meal with a character from any classic novel, whom would you choose?

A: I recently read Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home, a book that is so comprehensive in its world-building that it includes several recipes from the cuisine of the fictional Kesh, many of which sound quite appealing. So maybe I’d drop in on Stone Telling, who is the book’s closest equivalent to a protagonist, for a bowl of valley succotash or acorn-meal soup with honey.


Matt Hornsby’s story “The Draining
in Metaphorosis Friday, 20 March 2020.
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A question for Chris Panatier

Q: Are you optimistic about the future of humanity?

A: Depends from whose perspective the question is asked, doesn’t it? From my perspective, no. And I’m an optimist. And while I have a generally positive attitude about humans, I do not hold out much hope for the species as a whole, if that makes sense. MLK said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. We make strides here and there. Socially, moreso in the past fifteen years than the many years prior. This is a good thing. But not if we commit suicide via climate change. It’s already happening.

The problem, as far as I can see it, is the consolidation of power and control around the world in a handful of people who are not good; who for short term financial and political gain, unwind environmental protections, burn rain forests, dump poison and trash into the oceans and water table, and then deregulate the industries that pollute. Greed, and the fear of shrinking fortunes by those who have them, are perhaps the most potent driving forces behind the failure of humankind to do something about the crisis.

From the perspective of a future nature that doesn’t include humans, I’m very optimistic.


Chris Panatier’s story “The Eighth Fathom
in Metaphorosis Friday, 6 March 2020.
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A question for Jo Miles

Q: What’s your favorite non-SFF book?

A: One non-fiction book that I read recently and enjoyed immensely is The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, a German forester who combines his personal, life-long experience working with trees with some incredible recent science to show that trees have a lot more going on than we give them credit for.

Not only do trees change their chemistry to survive harsh conditions or scare off parasites; they also communicate and look out for each other, warning nearby trees about dangerous insects, supporting and sheltering young trees as they grow, and even sharing nutrients with sick trees. Though it waxes poetic in places, I found it an eye-opening look at such a familiar thing, and a reminder that life can be sophisticated in many ways, even if it looks very different from us humans.


Jo Miles’s story “Grow, Divide, Sacrifice, Thrive
in Metaphorosis Friday, 21 February 2020.
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A question for Chris Cornetto

Q: How do you generate story ideas, and how soon do you act on them?

A: I’m driven by curiosity. For twenty years, the same fantasy world has been living and growing inside my head. All my stories take place in this world, and I explore it through writing. Sometimes the exploration is literal, as in “What lurks over the next hill?” Other times it’s philosophical, like “How would character X react if faced with dilemma Y?” I write stories to find out.

As for when I act on them, it’s never as soon as I’d like. By day there’s the job, at night there are dogs with bellies that need to be rubbed. By necessity, I let the ideas percolate for a few days, and I jot notes as they come to me. That way, when I finally make it to the coffee shop, I’m ready to spill words onto the page.


Chris Cornetto’s story “Heart of Stone
in Metaphorosis Friday, 14 February 2020.
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