Career in Space

Every now and again a pointless engagement turns into an unexpectedly fascinating meeting.3031088430_a679723a72_z

Back in December I met an agent. The meeting didn’t start well because, a week before, we both realised in an email exchange that we were not interested in each other’s books. Still, neither of us cancelled the date. The first 15 minutes felt awkward. After all, we had not much to say to each other. Then I told him – in a desperate attempt to lighten the mood – that I would like to be an astronaut.

Which is true. Last year I became interested in quantum physics and space travel. I read Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Brian Cox and watched a lot of youtube films about astronauts. I even fantasised about walking on the moon. I had no idea where my new passion would lead me. Until I met the agent.

His eyes lit up and he said: ‘I, too, want to be an astronaut.’ We had found common ground. The rest of the meeting flew by at lightning speed and I left it with a long list of science fiction recommendations.

Up to that moment I had never heard of Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin or Arthur C. Clarke. SciFi and Phantasy had never interested me and even when I read about quantum physics, black holes and string theory, it did not occur to me to look at SciFi.

Now, I’m hooked. So much so that this week at London Bookfair I’m hoping to find some foreign novellas with a SciFi touch to publish in 2017.

Fortunately Peirene, too, is very excited. ‘This is thrilling story telling.’ She is sitting in my reading chair, holding my copy of The Lathe of Heaven. ‘I’m afraid I won’t have time to go to the London Bookfair with you this week.’ She has lowered her eyes again onto the page. ‘I’m working my way through the collected work of Ursula Le Guin’s – what a genius.’

For a moment I wonder if I mind. ‘Fair enough,’ I then reply. ‘You are certainly not wasting your time.’ I pause. ‘But when I return from the fair, I get the reading chair back.’

Peirene throws me a quick questioning glance. ‘Why will you need it?’

‘So I can work my way through all the stimulating foreign SciFi novellas I will discover in the next few days,’ I reply and add with a sly smile: ‘Lots of books by authors an ancient Greek nymph would not know about.’

Image by Steve Jurvetson.

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