In defiance of all logic, I am a judge for the inaugural SPSFC. This is going to be a lot of fun, but it’s also a big responsibility. More, you might say, than one man alone can handle. Well, I’m not so sure about that, but I have nevertheless assembled a crack team of bloggers and reviewers to stop my head from exploding. We are collectively the At Boundary’s Edge team, but these fine individuals have their own takes on the genre. Diversity is the great strength of SF, and I dare say my new colleagues have been doing this longer (and potentially better) than I have. But that’s enough from me (for now). I asked each of the judges the same set of questions, and the answers are here for your perusal. Read on, and I’ll let the team introduce themselves.
Hiii, I’m Jenn.
For genres, I enjoy many elements of science-fiction especially stories that crossover into the mystery and thriller categories. I’m a big fan of unique world-building, tragic heroism and, anything that’s considered ‘dark.’ But, I also enjoy a healthy dose of everyday drama too. I like reading books that challenge my perception of humanity, so anything that features sentient aliens or artificial intelligence, I’ll be most happy with.
I struggle with stories that are overly technical or ‘wordy’ so if there’s anything that comes across as bloated and confusing, I’ll not get along well with it. I also have trouble enjoying erotic fiction so if there’s little plot and a lot of bumping-uglies, I’ll be a hard-pass!
I first started enjoying Science-Fiction when I was a youngster. As well as enjoying Star Trek ToS re-runs on a Wednesday evening with the family and listening to my parents vinyl of Jeff Waynes War of the Worlds, I was introduced to Alien when I was just 9 years old in the form of the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter at Disney World, Florida – where I was both traumatised and given a morbid curiosity for all things Xenomorph. Since then I have moved onto series like Babylon 5 and Warhammer but do occasionally still enjoy the good old bug hunt!
I enjoy space opera, science fantasy, cyberpunk, steampunk, and horror. But more than anything else, I’m always looking for a book that does things differently. Tough sells for me are going to be alternate histories, extremely technical hard science fiction, and military science fiction. Also, zombies. I apologise in advance to anyone who wrote an alt-history with extremely technical military scifi folk hunting zombies.
I’ve been reading and writing science fiction and fantasy for, well, as long as I can recall. I love Frankenstein and Zelazny, Star Trek and Mass Effect. Heck, I built my own tabletop RPG system to facilitate my love of spaceships. I’ve participated in the SPFBO as an author a few times, and I’m looking forward to seeing the other side!
What genres do you enjoy reading? All manner of speculative fiction, alongside literary fiction and nonfiction. In sci-fi specifically I’m an absolute sucker for sci-fi that deals with political conflict, exploration, found family and really interesting science (think Children of Time).
What genres/themes are going to be a tough sell? Military sci-fi that boils down to “ships shooting lasers at each other”. I don’t mind a big space battle (I read and loved Unconquerable Sun last year), but I need it to be more than just that.
I’m in my early 30s and live in London with my two cats. I’ve been reading sci-fi since I was about 12, when my dad pushed the Foundation series into my hands and insisted I read it. When I’m not reviewing books I’m an avid cook and I recently started getting back into art, primarily collage and digital photography. I’m also a keen runner, cyclist, powerlifter, OneWheel rider and amateur bassist!
My favourite SF subgenres are Space Opera and Military SF. I’m looking for books with an epic sense of scale, and if that can be a story told over a long period of time, all the better. Original scientific ideas and well-executed Hard SF are also going to score points with me, and I love infodumps.
Romance and/or sex-heavy stories will have to fight hard to not be an instant DNF, and outright comedy is also going to a very difficult sell. The only other genre I really struggle with is science fantasy, as I prefer the science side of SF to play an important role.
My introduction to SF was either Foundation, or Star Wars tie-ins. Honestly, it’s so long ago I can’t remember what came first. A decade and a half later, and with several hundred SF books read, I reached peak nerd by writing my MA dissertation on the role of empires in science fiction. I haven’t looked back since, and divide my time between reading, writing, and farming.