Richard Harland Interview

Richard Harland is hoping that his latest novel, Worldshaker, will prove to be a break-through work for him.  Gary Kemble interviews the author on the "Articulate" weblog.

Q. What's the appeal of alternative history, both for writers and readers?

I suppose it appeals to the what-if side of our minds. History could so easily have taken a different turn. For me, the appeal is especially that it allows the imagination to create fantasy worlds very different to the standard Tolkien/medieval norm. (I've got nothing against Tolkien/medieval fantasy, but there are so many other possibilities to explore!) By separating off from real history only in the Napoleonic period, I can bring in a more political state of the world and alternative versions of the industrial age.

Q. Similarly, steampunk is a hugely popular subgenre (arguably a genre in and of itself). What's the appeal?

Maybe it's a nostalgia from the time when machines looked like machines, when you could watch their workings and grasp what was happening. Nowadays, on the other hand, the technology is hidden away inside bland white or silver boxes, and you can't do anything even if you open the boxes up.

I bought my first new car in 20-odd years some months ago, and got a huge shock to learn that I'm not even allowed to fiddle with the engine. Not that I was ever very good at fiddling with engines - which is probably why I like making up forms of machinery that never quite existed in real history.


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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 16, 2009 11:48 AM.

Combined Reviews: Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga was the previous entry in this blog.

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