Unexpected Questions with Maurizio Manzieri

MAURIZIO MANZIERI is an Italian illustrator, two times finalist for the Hugo Awards as Best Professional Artist, four times winner of the Asimov’s Readers’ Award as Best Cover Artist and recipient in 2021 of the European Grand Master Award conferred by the European Science Fiction Society. 
Working as an illustrator for leading magazines and publishing houses in the science fiction and fantasy field since 1994, he has also been hired as a Visual Artist for events such as Lucca Comics & Games (Italy), Fantasy Basel (the Swiss ComicCon), and EuroCon.
– If you could transport yourself to any fictional universe you’ve seen in a book you liked, which universe would you go to?

As an artist, I have always sought inspiration to feed my sense-of-wonder. I am happy when I discover books introducing exotic places that I like to imagine as actually existing somewhere in this vast universe. I have always been attracted to those writers who are able to vividly visualize architectures and civilizations currently unreachable for us. I love the thrills of adventure, but even a simple walk in a mysterious canyon of Mars in search of traces of extinct aliens makes my day, as happens for example in a series of novels by Ben Bova.

In recent years I have read most of Jack McDevitt’s novels, especially the cycles of Alex Benedict and Priscilla Hutchins (the Academy series). This prolific author manages to imagine exciting situations and scenarios of what could hopefully be one day the exploration of our arm of the galaxy. Another of the authors I’ve always loved is Jack Vance, an unbeatable writer in describing the fauna and flora of other worlds.

If you could time travel to any point in history, which era would you choose, and why?
As a child, long before Jurassic Park, I used to dream of dinosaurs and imagined myself hidden among the ferns of a mysterious valley spying on the passage of a Tyrannosaurus. If I had a Time Machine, I would without hesitation jump into the Cretaceous. I’d still leave the engines running… to escape if things went badly!
If you could travel to any alternate universe where a different version of yourself exists, what do you think your other self would be like?
I could probably be a writer in an alternate universe. There was a moment in my life around the age of 18 when I was writing and drawing at the same time, one of those moments when you are consolidating your vocations. At one point I thought that maybe it was better to focus on one discipline and perfect it. I asked myself, “So, do you want to be a writer or an artist?” Well, you know what prevailed. I’m sure if I were thrown into this Universe my doppelgānger and I would be a phenomenal team!
Which trope of science fiction (phasers, transporters, time machines, much more) would you like to see put into our own reality? And how would you use it in a mundane way?
At the beginning of my career, I had much more free time to devote to recreational and mundane activities, such as reading science fiction and fantasy novels. Over the years this time has gradually dwindled, partly due to work and partly due to the circumstances of life. Books and short stories that I should have illustrated began to sneak into my reading schedule, while the stockpile of novels that I wanted to read was inexorably increasing.
I’ve occasionally read about those magical or interdimensional portals where time flows differently. Among the most recent titles, I remember Stephen King’s Fairy Tales and 11/22/63, in the past The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin. When you return to your plane of reality only a few seconds have passed and no one has noticed your absence.
Who hasn’t wanted to enjoy a 48-hour day? I wouldn’t use this refuge to perform heroic deeds, but to finally have the opportunity to read more books without affecting the routine of daily commitments. The best would be if in this hypothetical place I didn’t grow old!
What off-beat location would you like to see host a convention, and why?
Undoubtedly The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, that has been used as a filming location for several science fiction TV series such as Doctor WhoWestworld and for the upcoming second season of Star Wars Andor!

Maurizio Manzieri is the cover artist for ESPionage: Regime Change by Frank Wu and Tom Easton, coming out from Amazing Selects (the book imprint of Amazing Stories) – the novel will be available on August 28, 2023! Preorder at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CCS86MJZ?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

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