Over the past forty odd years, Rosaleen Love has published on Australian science and society, both in non-fiction, and in fiction. Her most recent books are Reefscape. Reflections on the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney and Washington, and The Traveling Tide, short fiction, with Aqueduct Press, Seattle. Her two first collections of short storiesThe Total Devotion Machine and Evolution Annie, were with the Women’s Press, London. The Women’s Press was a pioneering feminist press that took genre fiction seriously, like TPP and Aqueduct Press today.
I haven’t written much short fiction in the past five years. For a while it felt as if events in my life were broadcast to the world as episodes of an Argentinian TV soap opera. Coping with that took away the creative urge. However, Alisa’s inclusion of my work in her TPP series has got me writing again, with my former enthusiasm.
1. You have a short story collection coming out next year as one of the Twelve Planets from Twelfth Planet Press. Can you tell us a little bit about your collection and what inspirations you drew on to write it?
I write science fiction because I get intrigued by an idea, and often the idea springs from science. The scientific explanation may not satisfy. Hence the fiction.
One of the stories in the TPP collection is titled ‘The music of what matters.’ I want to write about the experience of music. I’ve read how researchers explore the neurological effects of music, doing brain scans etc, and it all seems to me to add up to something, but it’s not what I really want to know. In the fiction, I explore the feeling of what happens at moments of music-induced euphoria. It’s a challenge, to write about what can’t be expressed in words, in words.
There’s one story I haven’t finished yet, I suspect because I have bitten off more than I can chew, a fable titled ‘The slut and the universe.’ In this story I may (or may not) account for how feminism may be both the root of all evils, and the means of salvation from them.
Two other stories are ‘The inner zebra’ and ‘The secret lives of books’. Those books are causing endless trouble, with their secret lives.
2.You are both a writer of science and of science fiction. How does one inform the other in your work? What draws you to each?
My science writing has ground to a halt, though I still do some. There’s an explosion of brilliant science writing on the web, up to date, illustrated, often communicated by frontline researchers themselves. So the old print media stuff I used to do has been largely superseded. Back in the 80s, I used to write quite a lot about what was happening with climate change, which at that time was referred to as the enhanced Greenhouse effect. That was in the days before the climate change denialists. (Indeed, I’ve been around long enough to remember being told at primary school that the next Ice Age would be a worry). In the 80s, it was possible to work out the important issues, and communicate them. Now keeping up with the climate change literature and politics is more than a fulltime job for the interested amateur.
I find the denialist stuff both fascinating and depressing. It is interesting now to find climate change entering as a topic in mainstream fiction, by writers who would never see what they are doing as science fiction.
3. What do you see as the main themes of your fiction and have they changed, matured, gotten more jaded over time?
It’s interesting to reflect on what might be the main themes of my fiction. Because I worked for a long time in teaching topics on science and society, I’ve always had that interest in the social aspects of science, and I love the idea of the feminist fable. I like turning an idea on its head. I like ideas of transmutation and metamorphosis. I am fascinated by religions, and ways in which devout people live their lives according to abstract principles that can’t all be true (whatever truth is). I think of life as a moral journey and some of that comes out in the fiction, possibly.
I like writing very short stories. The novel will always be beyond me.
I’m not sure I’ve got more jaded over time with what interests me. If I’ve got more jaded, it’s that I can’t be bothered with some recent trends, e.g. zombies and vampires. Can’t wait till the vampires die yet one more unnatural death.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
I might skip answering that question as I haven’t read any Australian SF/ Fantasy novels lately. I’ve been reading the TPP series to see what others are writing, and one thing that does strikes me is the general skill in the short story writing. In pace, language, story construction, I think so many are excellent – a lack of Ho Hum boring bits. Perhaps these are skills honed in writing workshops and put into practice. However, there are those vampires everywhere, though I do admit, there’s often an amusing twist in the tale.