Interview by Ben Peek
Robin Pen is the co-editor (with Robert Hood) of the anthology Daikaiju!
1) It’s been a while since Australia has seen something as substantial as Daikaiju! emerge with Robin Pen’s name on it. Does this signal an active return writing (assuming your absence has been by choice), or is it more of a one off project?
Yes the absence has been by choice although not a choice I had much control of. When I first decided to be involved with Daikaiju! I wasn’t so aware that this would lead to a return to the scene but by the time boxes of this volume were sitting in my home I think I was ready to get back into things. Now I’m quite enthusiastic to get some work done. I hope to have a substantial small press project out early next year and in the meantime to get back to the writing and see what happens. I have remained semi-attached to the scene, with some web writing and having a strong friendship base in the scene, but it feels time to be more actively involved again. Of course, some will be laying bets.
2)What kind of issues are raised in producing an anthology that is born from a sub-genre of movies and literature that many might not be familiar with?
Firstly, I like to point out that Robert Hood did much of the work on Daikaiju! I said Robert did 90%, the publisher said 96%, I think she may be more accurate. To Rob this was a true act of passion and creative dedication. To me it was a bit more of an intellectual and critical exercise fuelled by a strong belief in Robert’s vision. But getting back to your question; right from the beginning we were not quite sure what kind of work would be inspired by such a “hokey” sub-genre (one I do love, by the way) and which writers would apply a literary slant to it. In the end we didn’t have to be worried. Indeed, it soon became clear we were going to get the full spectrum of what such a concept can bring about. The results have been rather exciting and entertaining with straight out adventure to satire to surrealism to post-modern SF to imaginative fantasy to whacky comedy to some rather moving and thoughtful pieces. I doubt many people will be right with their preconception of such a collection. I know I wouldn’t have been. Basically, the inherent absurdity of such a concept requires some real imagination and talent to either make the story convincing or to make it a worthy narrative tool within the story. I think, besides being a fun read, this has been a remarkable exercise in exploring the tools of fantasy and science fiction. And being a po-mo kind’a guy I thought the whole thing kind’a keen.
3) You’ve been connected to the Australian scene for a while now. What do you think it has enough of, and what do you think it needs to keep growing?
I think the Australian scene is very healthy considering it can never really be a large community as compared to the US scene. But in the same way we do well in world sports, regardless of our relatively small population pool, I think Australians in the F&SF writing scene should be largely pleased with how well they’ve spread out into the international market. But one serious problem of a small community is the lack of willingness to be more critical of itself. It’s hard to write negative reviews when you probably know the writer or publisher personally. I recall that Simon Brown did a short story review column for Eidolon where he’d only talk about the stories he really liked and would avoid talking about anything he would be negative about. Simon still got rebuked by one publisher on a community mail forum over what stories he didn’t review (the idea that by not mentioning work he was giving it a bad review). But I think when Martin Livings did his no holds barred reviews for Eidolon he did a good service. It had finally been said that there was work being published that wasn’t good enough to have been published. We need to mature and realise that support for the growing scene means the community must also seek to raise the bar on itself. I think Eidolon played a crucial role in that and I think publications like Agog!are helping to make the garden stronger with their harsher pruning. Still, having said that, I think we have to keep developing our community network (inside and outside Australia) and maintain our support for fellow writers whom usually are or will become friends anyway.
4) You’re dead. It happened in a really, really, really tiny toilet. Not many people came to your funeral. Anyhow, you’re dead: you go to Heaven (assuming you believe, blah blah) and you see God. What do you say?
Was that in a toilet with an over-sized Star Trek fan, an inflatable Spock and a goat? I have nightmares about that.
Anyway, I go to heaven and come face to face with that God guy.
I say, “So you do exist. Well you did a pretty lousy job of showing it. Ya putz. Like everyone else, you want my respect, you earn it.”
Then again, God might drive a mustang and be great at parties. Thus he might be a cool, swingin’ dude. So, If we hang out a bit, shows he’s loose and with it, then I might think he’s alright.
Still, he’s got a lot of explaining to do.
5) Favourite swear word?
Fuckin’ fuck fuck of fuckin’ fuck you fuck fuck…….fuck!
That felt good. Think I’ll do it again…
Go fuck ya fuckin fuck, just fuck ya fuck fuckin fuck fuck! And the horse you road in on.
Hmm, like having a shower…
Fuckin’ fuck, go fuck a fuck you fuckin’ fuck fuck fuck……………