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February 17-19, 2023 — Westin Boston Seaport District
December 15, 2014

Mini Interviews: David L Clements, David Anthony Durham, and Joshua Bilmes

Let the Boskone Mini Interviews continue! We’ve had a few days of silence on the Boskone Blog as we ironed out the draft schedules for our program participants (which will be sent to participants soon). However, we are now up and running with a new set of Mini Interviews for your enjoyment. Today we have Boskone’s Hal Clement Science Speaker David L. Clements as well as fantasy author David Anthony Durham and agent Joshua Bilmes. Now, enough from us! Here are the people you came to read.

David L. Clements

David L. Clements is an astrophysicist based at Imperial College London. His main work concerns extragalactic astronomy and observational cosmology and he has been working on the Herschel and Planck space missions for the past 10 years. His first book, a popular book called Infrared Astronomy: Seeing the Heat, was published at the end of 2014. He is also a science fiction writer with stories published in Analog, Nature and numerous anthologies. He also arranges science programmes for conventions, most recently at LonCon3. For more information, visit Dave on his website and follow him on Twitter @davecl42.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?

I’ve never been able to go to a Boskone before, so I’m looking forward to finding out what I’ll enjoy most!

This is also the first time I’ve ever been a guest at a convention, so that’s going to be a completely new experience.

What are you looking forward to at Boskone?

Boskone is one of the classic SF conventions, and one I’ve wanted to go to for a while but have never managed it. So just going is something I’m looking forward to!

Among many things I’m looking forward to seeing friends I already know in Boston fandom, making new ones, talking about science and science fiction, and the links between them, and sharing the fascination of the results we’re getting from Herschel, Planck and other astronomical instruments.

What event or experience stands out as one of those ‘defining moments’ that shaped who you are today?

Being a child during the time of the Apollo landings, and the first flush of SF on TV – including Star Trek, Dr Who, Thunderbirds and many others. This gave me an enthusiasm and interest in space, SF, and in the possibilities of understanding how the universe works.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

I’ve just published my first (non-fiction) book! It’s called Infrared Astronomy: Seeing the Heat and tells the story of the universe as seen through infrared eyes, I got my first copies yesterday and I’m still on a high!

The book is available here from the publishers, from all the usual online retailers, and maybe from your local bookstore as well. 🙂

I’ve also got a short story out in Analog’s Jan/Feb issue. Once I’ve got another short fiction project finished I’ll be going back to the novel in progress, and hopefully get that out to agents and/or potential publishers some time in 2015.

Research-wise I’m working on looking for the most distant dusty galaxies in the universe — we published the current record holder (redshift 6.32) in 2013 but I’m seeing if we have any more distant objects in the current observations from Herschel and ground-based observatories at longer, submm and millimetre, wavelengths. I also have a project looking at clusters of galaxies where there is an unusually high rate of star formation in some of their constituent galaxies.

Beyond that I’m looking to future space missions, including Euclid, SPICA, and a rather interesting possibility for looking at the cosmological dark ages, before the first generation of stars formed.

From a fan perspective, what new book, film, TV show, or comic are you most looking forward to seeing/reading?

The new season of Sherlock should be starting on the BBC soon – we’ll all be watching that over Christmas. Bookwise I’m looking forward to William Gibson’s latest, Peripheral, and Peter Watts’ latest, Echopraxia. Filmwise, the next Avengers movie is hopefully going to be good, but on films, the unexpected, innovative independent film, if you can cope with the odd rough edge, can be a real surprise. I found The Machine on Netflix recently and was really impressed. Hopefully, I’ll find more like that.

If you could recommend a book to your teenage-self, what book would you recommend? Why did you pick that book?

There are lots of books that weren’t written then that I’d recommend, but of those that were available I’d point myself to A Song for Lya, a short story collection by George RR Martin when he was writing excellent SF. The title story itself is awesome.

How would you describe your work to people who might be unfamiliar with you?

In terms of fiction I try to write hard, cosmological SF, though sometimes I write things that are a bit less wide screen. In both my fiction and my non-fiction I want to give readers a sense of place for things that are far, far away, a feel for the vast oceans of space and time that surround us, but despite all this, convey the significance of people to each other and, potentially, to the universe.

In my research I’m interested in finding out the role that dusty galaxies play in the history of star formation, and in sorting out new ways that far-infrared astronomy can be used in cosmology.

David Anthony Durham

David Anthony Durham is the author of the Acacia Trilogy of fantasy novels, as well as the historical novels Pride of Carthage, Walk Through Darkness and Gabriel’s Story. His novels have been published in the UK and in nine foreign languages. Four of them have been optioned for development as feature films. For more information, visit David’s website and friend him on Facebook.

What is it that you enjoy most about Boskone?

Hanging out with old friends and making new ones. It’s funny, but that really is the first thing that comes to mind. The panels are wonderful — either to be on or to sit and listen to. The organization is top-notch, with so much to choose from. I’m never bored. Indeed, I usually feel spoiled for choice. And I don’t mind admitting it’s lovely to hear from people who’ve been kind enough to read my work. That happens every now and then. 😉

But what I really think of first about Boskone is socializing. Relaxing on the couches in the lobby. Strolling with someone through the art show. Lively debate and discussion in the bar. Talking late into the night at some function or another. That’s a surprisingly big part of it. The people.

What are you working on now? What excites or challenges you about this project?

Two things. The most SFF-related is that I’m currently working on another series of stories for the next Wild Cards collaborative novel, edited by George RR Martin and Melinda Snodgrass. It’s called High Stakes. It’s the third consecutive one I’ve been in, and I’m very pleased with that. What excites me is the same as what challenges me about the project – weaving together my character’s stories with the other authors stories, each of us adding our own piece into something that, with sharp editing from George and Melinda, becomes more than the sum of its pieces. Of course, it isn’t always easy. There can be a lot of rewriting. George in particular isn’t shy about speaking his mind when he doesn’t like something!

I’ve also just finished a long-delayed historical novel about the Spartacus rebellion in ancient Rome. It’s still in the editing process, so I’ll be living with it for awhile still. I knew I was drawn to the story for my own reasons, but I knew it would be a challenge to pull away from existing takes on Spartacus and craft something new. I wanted to write it in a way nobody had done before, and it took me longer than I expected to find my approach. I’m very pleased with how it turned out, though.

From a fan perspective, what new book, film, TV show, or comic are you most looking forward to seeing/reading?

I’m a big The Walking Dead fan. But I live up in the hills in Western Massachusetts. No cable. No high speed internet. I can only watch the series once it’s out on dvd, which means I’m way-hungry for Season Five. If I see you at the con, don’t tell me what happened! Now, I know that the show has it’s wonky moments, but in general I find each and every episode engaging, surprising, and skillfully written. I love the casting and complexity of the character relationships. And, for me, it’s no small thing that the show has come to have such an ethnically diverse cast, or that it’s filled with strongly drawn female characters. I’ll be a very happy chap when I can get my hands on the next season.

Joshua Bilmes

President of JABberwocky Literary Agency with 25 years experience; represents #1 bestsellers Charlaine Harris and Brandon Sanderson and many other leading authors in SF/fantasy. For more information, visit him on his website, follow him on Twitter @awfulagent or @jabbermaster, and on his blog.

What are you looking forward to at Boskone?

The dealer’s room! I’ll get to chat up the people at Larry Smith Booksellers in the dealer’s room and find out what they’re reading and recommending and see all of the new books. Maybe the biggest Barnes & Noble locations that do a good business in sf/f get all of the new releases, but even the typical B&N doesn’t these days. There will be a new hardcover or trade paperback that the big chains aren’t carrying at all of their locations or the new mass market book with just one or two copies on order that disappears into the alphabetical shelving. So I don’t think there’s any substitute for going to the Larry Smith table and seeing pretty much everything. And then after I’m done there, I will probably buy way too much fudge from the Auntie Erwin stand, which has lots of different flavors. Everyone who’s at the convention will be in the dealer’s room at some point, so it’s a good place to meet people. And once I’m there, I can wander a little bit and find some food at the con suite and the art show and lots of other fun stuff to do.

What event or experience stands out as one of those ‘defining moments’ that shaped who you are today?

I’d never read science fiction to speak of before 1979, when we were coincidentally staying at the Boskone hotel, and ended up getting some free samples of the first few issues of Omni Magazine, which had started six months before. The short fiction in Omni, including great stories by Orson Scott Card and George R R Martin, was my first taste of reading sf/fantasy, and I was hooked pretty much instantly. Soon I was subscribing to Omni and Analog and Asimov’s and getting my initial shipment from the SF Book Club, and everything I’ve done since takes off from that.

From a fan perspective, what new book, film, TV show, or comic are you most looking forward to seeing/reading?

Boskone will be taking place just days after Myke Cole’s Gemini Cell goes on sale, and this is a great book  that I’m excited people will be able to get at Boskone. It takes all of the good things about his Shadow Ops series and builds on them. So there’s lots of great action which reflects Myke’s experience in and knowledge of the military, but there’s a classic love story with some sf/f twists, and there’s a lot of heart. It’s like taking his Shadow Ops books, adding in some Cold Mountain, and making it warm and engaging.


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