Wednesday, 30 January 2013

#justimagine Author Thomas Pitts on Fusion and a gene-manipulating alien scout

My interviewee is Thomas Pitts whose story, Other Things, appears in Fusion. Thomas who is half Italian and who lives in Newbury, Berkshire, has had two mainstream short stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and is just completing a science fiction novel.

Thomas tells me he was confident in his story, which doesn’t surprise me as Other Things was a very tense and well told tale. But he also says he had no expectations. I guess that’s a writer thing. With fiction it’s always subjective and you never know who you’re up against in a competition.

What was it that motivated Thomas to enter in the first place? Was there any added incentive in the cash prizes or the chance of publication or the charity donation? Thomas says, ‘For money, you'd be wiser to work in a normal job for twenty hours or whatever, and give that guaranteed income to yourself or charity. It was publication that I wanted, so as to get some science fiction on my covering letter for when I try to publish my SF novel, since all I have is mainstream stories on BBC radio. If I'd known there were such things as SF short story competitions I would have entered them years ago - it's my favourite genre and I like the short form.’

Did Thomas have any worries about appearing in an anthology that also contained stories from established writers, Danuta Reah and Stuart Aken? ‘It's generous of them,’ he says. ‘And it’s a positive so long as there's no disparity in quality.’

No need to worry on that score, Thomas. Anyone who has read Fusion will know that all the stories stand together well.

It’s always good to know what writers themselves see as a really good read. When I ask Thomas what he would recommend to entertain a long-haul traveller, he says, ‘My SF choice would be Solaris by Stanislav Lem. It's deep and yet it has a gripping plot - a rare combination in any genre. No idea if the film versions are any good.’

Like all the interviewees, Thomas is invited to put himself in the shoes of an alien scout who has discovered Earth and learnt its history. How will he report back to his people? Thomas’s answer is a classic for a sci-fi author. He says, ‘My alien scout would recognize that Earth, with its torture, genocide, violence, tyranny, rape, slavery, and inequality, is all too much like her own world. She would capture a human, and have her robot analyze its genome. Then she'd release a targeted designer virus into Earth's fresh water systems. The gene sequences that predispose Homo sapiens to psychopathy, selfishness, etc will in time be modified. She'd then communicate to her home world that this planet is a barren world with no prospect of life and unsuitable for colonization. Saying farewell to the incipient utopia, never to behold the promised land, she sling-shots around the Sun for the next solar system - and the continuance of her lonely mission.’

I ask Thomas what he’s working on now. He tells me, ‘I'm just finishing an SF novel, a love and war epic spanning the Inner Solar System. And another SF story.’

That’s good news for sci-fans who loved Other Things in Fusion.

Read more about Thomas and his writing on Facebook or email him on or 

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