Good Reading : October 2009
OCTOBER 2009 ı goodreading 25 author profile 2 some of the most inventive writing being published in the world today. Adrian has read and written sci-fi for the majority of his life. His second greatest love is the detective novel, evident in his writing where he comfortably melds the two genres. Amiable, frank and refreshingly modest for a novelist who is the talk of American publishing, he's the last person one would think of as the creator of dark and brooding dystopian futures. With a love for the 'little guy', Adrian manages to create some of the most downtrodden characters in some of the most awful scenarios imaginable. Vivid, often brutal imaginings of society are expressed with a quirk and honesty that make it seem as though he's merely describing the world around him as he sees it. First published by the relatively new Canadian publishers Edge, he continues his early success with them. But why would an Aussie writer first be published in Canada? 'They were the first to say yes. I found them on the internet, sent my two books to them, and they accepted one. It's as simple as that,' he tells me. His Canadian publisher has given him an access to the American genre market that is unusual for an Australian author. Since his first novel, Orbital Burn, Adrian has proven himself as a new and challenging member in the proud tradition of cyberpunk authors. Storytelling for Adrian is a way of life -- he has been writing 'seriously' since he was 14 years old. 'I always really liked stories. Any kind of story really, but especially sci-fi. I've been writing them almost as long as I've been reading them. It seemed like a natural progression,' he says. As Adrian grew older, he found that he needed to be a writer. 'I was slowly becoming sick of sci-fi, especially the pulp sci-fi of the 1970s and 80s. Then I read Neuromancer by William Gibson. That was a shock to my system. It opened my eyes and woke me up from my stupor.' For the uninitiated, William Gibson is considered the father of 'cyberpunk'. This is a genre of sci- fi usually set in the near future and at least partially set in cyberspace -- a word Gibson himself coined. Adrian also came e Connie Willis, Charles Stross and Tim Powers and, of course, Philip K Dick. He also admits his love of the legendary crime noir writer, Raymond Chandler. Adrian's novels start with a character, and the world around them develops organically. It is his philosophy that a character should always have a job. As he puts it, 'There is nothing people can relate to more than a regular guy in a regular job -- even in the most bizar re of settings.' Orbital Burn is a prime example of his joining of detective fiction and gritty science fiction. The story conceptually begun for Adrian: 'In a space port with a kid and his dog, but something was missing. Then I thought of having a detective approached by one of them. Then it all fell into place'. With what seems a signature love of the unorthodox, he made sure his protagonist was legally dead. Kept functioning by science, this character is a social untouchable on a whole new level. With its challenging social constructs and its piercing questions about the nature of humanity and morality, Orbital Burn opened the way for an entire universe worth of social challenges. Perhaps the most obviously challenging is the concept of disposable biological androids. The androids have no rights, and it is cheaper to replace them than to repair them. One thing that also stuck with him in the writing of his novel Eclipse was an episode of the original series of Star Trek. 'Captain Kirk was in a situation with a woman where things were getting out of hand -- it was very near rape,' he says. 'What would happen if it had been? What if the Captain of a spaceship was a murderer and a psychopath?' Another element was the old concept of Australia as an empty void, an 'alien' space, freely exploitable. Such questions are Adrian's stock in trade when writing his science fiction. His most recent novel, Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait, is in a eague of its own. Winning he 2008 Aurealis Award for best Science Fiction Novel as well as being shortlisted for the Philip K Dick award, it has raised the benchmark yet again. After a tr ilogy set in his first universe, Adrian felt a change was in order, so he created an entirely new universe and set about challenging the social order at a different level. The story first sprung into existence for him when he asked himself the question, 'What would happen ifaguyfoundadeadbodyinatime machine? Better yet, what if he was an ex-cop?' The book is set in Perth only 20 years from now. Adrian's challenge was to write a futuristic novel that is set so near in the future that everything is recognisable to today's reader. Adrian already has a sequel underway, but readers without time machines will have to wait for next year's World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), which is conveniently to be held in Melbour ne in 2010 -- AussieCon Four. He isn't ready to reveal anything about it, but his legions of fans can't wait to see the finished product. Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait by K A Bedford is published by Fremantle Press, r rp $22.95.