To celebrate the launch of Uncanny Valley: A Science Fiction Anthology we asked our authors four simple questions.
We spoke to James Edward O’Brien, whose short story, “Overseer of Plastics” unveils the dark underbelly of humanity with comedic glee.
What was the inspiration behind your short story?
Quite simply, I wanted to capture the tedium of an airport boarding area. I placed the starport in a world that reflects what I thought the resounding repercussions of today’s climate catastrophe might resemble down the road (I’d written “Overseer of Plastics” pre-COVID, by the way). Then, I thought it might be fun to have a horrible main character who is responsible for a good deal of that environmental degradation vying for a spot on the last “life raft” off-world.
What does science fiction mean to you?
Science fiction means any number of things. I’m a lifelong Whovian and Star Trek enthusiast, so on one level it provides a healthy dose of escapism and adventure. At the same time, the best sci-fi reflects something about our shared journey through life—a stab at some insight or illumination into our aspirations, anxieties, and potential, regardless of lasers and spaceships.
What’s your favorite science fiction artwork, book, or film?
Sci-fi book? Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange or Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination. More recently, Ian McDonald’s Luna trilogy was fantastic. Films? I’ve got to give it to Aliens or Mad Max: Fury Road—I guess I err on the side of “escapism and adventure” when it comes to sci-fi cinema. Artwork? I’ve got to give it to Frank Frazetta’s pulp novel and comic book covers of the mid-to-late 20th century. He’s more widely heralded for his fantasy work, but his sci-fi stuff is amazing as well.
Androids or Aliens?
A tight race (sorry, Cylons) but I’ve got to hand it to aliens.
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