Alas­tair Reynolds on col­lab­o­rat­ing with Stephen Bax­ter for their Arthur C Clarke se­quel, The Me­dusa Chron­i­cles

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

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.

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