UPDATING THE FUTURE
Alastair Reynolds on collaborating with Stephen Baxter for their Arthur C Clarke sequel, The Medusa Chronicles
According to Alastair Reynolds, it’s down to “sheer serendipity” that he ended up collaborating with Stephen Baxter. The duo were exchanging emails when Reynolds, off the cuff, suggested working together on a sequel to Arthur C Clarke’s novella A Meeting With Medusa. “Steve fired back saying, ‘ That’s amazing, I’ve just read it again this week, let’s do it,’” says Reynolds.
The result is the forthcoming The Medusa Chronicles, a book rooted in great part in shared experience. “[ Steve] grew up reading the same stuff I did and he also collaborated with Clarke,” says Reynolds. “It seemed the right and proper thing to do, Steve’s a natural collaborator.”
The duo first began sketching out the novel in earnest over “two cups of coffee and a big pad of lined paper” at Loncon 3. Things went so well that, within an hour or so, they were working on an outline of the novel.
For those unfamiliar with Clarke’s original story, it centres on Howard Falcon, part man and part machine following a nasty accident. It concludes with what Reynolds describes as a “slingshot ending that catapults you into the possibilities of a much bigger story that’s left unstated”.
Although both wanted to write this larger story (“I’ve been thinking about it for literally years and years, the further adventures of Howard Falcon”), there were some challenges with Clarke’s source material. “There are issues with A Meeting With Medusa,” says Reynolds, “things that make it feel very dated – technical details, there are no women… as was the way of a lot of science fiction of the period.”
The answer to this was to set The Medusa Chronicles in an alternate timeline “where certain things have advanced more rapidly, and space exploration, rocketry are on the track it looked like we’d be on in 1970”.
Beyond noting that the book explores “tension between human and machine civilisations, with Falcon as an intermediary”, let’s not say too much more for now for risk of spoilers. In the meantime, things clearly went well, so how about another joint book? It may just happen… “Although there’s nothing on the cards, we are open to the idea of doing another collaboration in the future,” says Reynolds.
The Medusa Chronicles is published in May by Gollancz.
Next stop, Jupiter.
Alastair Reynolds ( above) and Stephen Baxter.