17 Sept 2021

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: Event Recap of Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey!

 

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!
I spent my Friday night with Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey, thanks to Copper Dog Books and Erewhon! It was such a neat event, completely virtual, and it was great to get some "behind the scenes" access to their writing, books, and all others!

Below you can learn more about the books and some of the conversation!

Cassandra Khaw in conversation with Richard Kadrey

Spotlight on Cassandra Khaw

Cassandra Khaw is an award-winning game writer, whose fiction work has been nominated for several awards. You can find their fiction in places like F&SF, Year's Best of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Tor.com. Their next book Nothing But Blackened Teeth is coming out in 2021.

THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD

Author: Cassandra Khaw
Series: N/A
Publisher: Erewhon
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Summary:
A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade... but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again. This band of dangerous women, half-clone and half-machine, must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all. 

Cassandra Khaw’s debut novel is a page-turning exploration of humans and machines that is perfect for readers of Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.
Preorder:

Spotlight on Richard Kadrey

Richard Kadrey is the New York Times-bestselling author of fifteen
novels, including the Sandman Slim supernatural noir series. Sandman Slim was included in Amazon’s “100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime.” Chad Stahelski of John Wick fame is directing the book as a feature film. Some of Kadrey’s other books include The Grand Dark, Hollywood Dead, The Everything Box, and Butcher Bird. In comics, he’s written for Heavy Metal, Lucifer, and Hellblazer. He’s also been immortalized as an action figure.

Connect with the Author:

SANDMAN SLIM

Author: Richard Kadrey
Series: Sandman Slim #1
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Publication Date: July 21, 2009
Summary:
Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero in Sandman Slim, star of this gripping, gritty new series by Richard Kadrey.

Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.
Preorder:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD

The event started off with Richard telling us about the time he punched a horse, so you knew it was going to be a great event. (Spoiler: About half way through the walk with his niece and his ex on the horse, it started bucking and was about to throw them off. He used to box and knows when you hit someone in a specific spot on their jaw, it can snap them back into reality, so he punched the horse there. The horse stopped and no one was injured.) Richard does not recommend punching horses.

But then we got more information about how Cass has punched a lot of people in her past. The high school they went to was rough and a girl threatened her with glass, so she went with it. 

The theme of crime believes into the books that both of the authors have written. This includes smoking and stealing cars in Richard's books. But karma got to him: someone stole his car when he lived in San Francisco for a joy ride. 
Crime leads us into THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD which is mainly about crime and the main interview between the authors. It was a nice conversation and I've pulled out some of my favourite parts!

Richard: Was it a conscious thing? Did you see it as an opportunity to put your past into your writing?

Cass: A little bit of both. When I was younger, I was poor and had to be a pick-pocket. I also tricked men into giving me money because I needed to pay for college. I mostly did outside pockets of people, just running into them and taking what I could. In THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD, I wanted to explore if you've been involved in crime, the military, or jobs that make you feral, how do you fit back into society? Your brain can't always bend back into normal, civilian state.

Richard: Crime is part of who you are and who the characters are, but their brains are wired for a certain kind of life.

Cass: When you're exposed to something for so long, it is inevitable. Rita, the mastermind, alters them a little bit to make them more likely to want to do these crimes.

I enjoyed making this book very cinematic. There is an explosion scene where the entire ship explodes and the main character is trying to fight and survive knowing she needs to get somewhere.

This is something I rexplore in my books - what are the limits of what people can face and still live? How does it change a person? Do they resign to their pain? So far, my characters have all put themselves back into that pain or conflict.

Richard: There is a lot of PTSD in your characters, especially in this book.

Cass: I've joked a few times that this is my way of interrogating abuse and life. THE ALL-CONSUMING LIFE is about impurity and immortality - how do you process trauma and PTSD? I wanted to look at a way that we deal with trauma in a variety of ways through the main characters in this story.

I think it's one way people deal with abuse - jumping at life, gobbling it down because you realize how much has been taken from you so you want to make up for lost time. Some people can be so broken by things that happen to them that they want to go into the evil or the greater horror to protect themselves from it happening again. And some people are petty and need to get revenge.

Cass: Eventually you force your main character to confront everything that has happened to him and I'm wondering if that was intentional?

Richard: The twelve book arc was meant to rexamine the meaning of monsters. In SANDMAN SLIM, our main character is clinically insane and learns to kill. By the time he escapes, he is nothing but a vegenance machine, he just wants to kill, kick, and take on the world. Over the course of the books, I wanted to rehabilitate a true monster into someone who can function into the world. He consciously deals with PTSD, takes medication, and becomes better with it over time. That life of chaos and violence breeds behaviours that if you don't take them in hand, you won't get past them.

Cass: Have you gotten any negative reviews for "foul" language?

Richard: That's an interesting topic because "boy" books have very few complaints about the language in them. I have seen my women counterparts getting complaints about the language or the content in general - the themes, the characters, the fact that you are writing in a cyberpunk universe - has made people upset.

Cass: I wouldn't be surprised - I remember when Cyberpunk 2077 came out and people raised their eyebrows about it. What do you think about the new wave?

Richard: I'm sick of what I see of the public perception of "cyberpunk" which is sunglasses and guns in their bodies. Neon, wet streets - I'm tired of it. But there seems to be a huge amount of sexism in Science Fiction - and in "Cyberpunk" it's heightened. Do you have feelings about that?

Cass: At this point, I am resigned to it. I don't know what to say about it. A lot of early women writers who built elements of "Cyberpunk" are completely erased from the narrative. I see online men saying: "Women are writing a specific genre to fit in with the boys." Maybe in a few years the gender disparity will stop being an issue.

Richard: I wonder if it's also a combination of the book being queer. The boys reading feel as though they can't "see" themselves in the book because they aren't men and that impacts how they view the book as "good" or "bad."

Cass: I think that may be part of it too because women and non-binary folks in my book are along the LGBTQ+ spectrum. They have no time for boys. I hope people can see themselves in the book no matter how they identify.

Richard: You're so known for fantasy and horror - what SciFi or Cyberpunk works that made you want to write this?

Cass: The Matrix. I loved it growing up and broke my brain in the best possible way. I ran around for the next 15 years or so wanting to do something like that. I don't know if I succeeded at it but I had my brain tweaked a few times while writing it.

Richard: I had the idea for SANDMAN SLIM for about 10 years but waited for the right time to write it. Was it similar for you for THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD?

Cass: It kinda did. It was supposed to be a tie-in novella for a game, but it didn't happen. So it got stuck in my brain and I had to finish the book. I hadned it to my editor saying I need to write this and the editor wanted to make it into a novel.

Have you read any of these authors books?

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