Unexpected Questions with Tim Pratt

Tim Pratt is the author of more than 30 novels, including the Axiom space opera trilogy, multiverse adventures Doors of Sleep and Prison of Sleep, and forthcoming multiversal space opera The Knife and the Serpent. He’s a Hugo Award winner for short fiction, and has been a finalist for Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Mythopoeic, Dick, Stoker, and other awards. Sometimes he edits things and serves on award juries too. He is an occasional book reviewer and senior editor at Locus, the magazine of the SF and fantasy field, and lives in Berkeley CA with his spouse and kid. Find more at timpratt.org
If you were transported into one of your books as a character, what kind of character would you be and what kind of adventures would you have?
My books are mostly full of terrible things happening to nice people, so I’d hate to live in them, but I suppose if you’d asked me when I was 20 with no partners/kid/major attachments I would have enjoyed exploring the multiverse like my characters in Prison of Sleep do, traveling to new worlds and meeting interesting people and seeing wondrous spectacles. (As opposed to the characters in Doors of Sleep, who are flung through the multiverse with no control over where they go; that seems less fun.)
If I had to move to one of my novel settings *now*, I could live in the future of my Axiom space opera series fairly happily; they’ve pretty much cured cancer and stuff, and there’s a spiritual/social/recreational drug using group called the Church of the Ecstatic Divine that I wouldn’t mind joining.
If you had to choose between being a mermaid or a dragon, which would you pick and why?
Oh, mermaid, for sure. If I’m a dragon, people are probably shooting at me from helicopter gunships and stuff. The oceans are the great unexplored vastness of this planet and it would be cool to explore them (assuming I’m not too low on the food chain down there).
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?
You ask this of a multiverse writer? There are so many hinge points in a life! I’m terribly afraid the other me would be lonely, since some of the most important relationships in my life came about because of pure chance. I met my best friend at a writing workshop I could have easily failed to get into; I met my wife at a party I almost didn’t attend, in a state I almost didn’t move to; the birth of any particular child is deeply rooted in the particularities of a moment. Then again, that other me might have found other people to meaningfully connect to. It’s a big world, after all, even without bringing parallel universes into things.
If you were to write a story featuring yourself as the main character, what kind of adventure would you embark on?

I did! It’s called “Unexpected Outcomes” and it was published in Interzone in 2009, and in audio form on Escape Pod later: https://escapepod.org/2010/07/29/ep251-unexpectedoutcomes/

It’s about me discovering, along with the rest of the world, that we’re actually living in a simulation created as an experiment by advanced aliens. So I go on a road trip with my actual real-life best friend Dawson to try and screw up their experiment.

If you were to write a love story between a human and an alien, what challenges would they face?
I did! Sort of.
It’s a novella called “The Alien Stars” and it was published in a collection of the same name. It’s full of yearning from an alien named Lantern, member of a tentacled species called the Free, for her dear friend, a human xenobiologist named Elena. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever written. The main challenge, apart from the obvious incompatibilities of physiology, is that Elena doesn’t think of Lantern the way Lantern thinks of her…. which is a challenge for humans, sometimes, too.
If you could have any magical power, but the catch was that you had to perform a ridiculous dance every time you used it, what power would you choose and what would your dance look like?
Teleportation, for sure. I’d gladly do the floss if it meant I could go anywhere instantaneously and never have to sit on an airplane again. Though I’d probably still take the train sometimes. I like the train.
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?
Transporters. I’d visit my extended family a lot more. They live far away!
Finally, at the end of your answers, we encourage you to promote your latest book, appearance, or any other newsworthy event that you would like to share. You should include links to your book, website, or social media accounts as well as a current photo or book cover.

My most recent book is called The Ravening Deepa supernatural adventure set in the world of Arkham Horror. My next original novel, The Knife and the Serpent, will be out this summer from Angry Robot: https://angryrobotbooks.com/books/the-knife-and-the-serpent/

Since 2015, I’ve written and published a new short story every single month for readers at my Patreon. You can join for as little as a dollar a month (though more gets you bonus stories and other treats) at https://www.patreon.com/timpratt

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