Do you feel that it is necessary to fully keep abreast of scientific
developments or just ones that may become necessary for your books?
I try and keep relatively up to date across a broad spectrum. But I do tend to concentrate mainly on the fields which are featured in the books. There’s just so much going on at so many fronts that keeping up is simply impossible these days.
Does projecting into the far future offer a broader canvas or does it
allow for an escape from the difficulties of imagining the near future?
Something of both there. The early Mandel books already have a dated feel to them, and they’re set another thirty years ahead. Short term prediction is always difficult. And yes, I enjoy the scope which the far future settings allow.
In The Dreaming Void The Dreaming Void, you have a series of people who are dreaming that the Void will be a Utopia with another group realising that it is hostile. Is this a comment on contemporary politics or is it an exploration of the idea of Utopia in sf?
The Void trilogy revolves around the self-belief of people that they have an absolute right to follow their ideology and goals no matter what the consequences to anyone else. In that respect, it’s definitely an observation on modern politics.
How do you keep track of the intricately created societies and the lesser characters who you seem to enjoy creating?
A huge amount of notes. I spent over six months plotting out the Void trilogy, and that was on top of all the material I’d already prepared for the previous Commonwealth Saga.
Where do you see copyright going now that file sharing and broadband offer access to a greater amount of material?
Good question. I covered the extreme version in Misspent Youth, where copyright is effectively dead. So far the situation between open-access and copyright seems to live in uneasy harmony, how long that will last I don’t know.
What do you think of groups like Mundane Sf who call for believable science in Sf?
I hadn’t heard of them before, but wish them good luck on their voyage.
Peter is signing at Forbidden Planet’s London store on August 2 between 6 and 7 in the evening.