Alex Shvartsman is a writer, translator, and anthologist from Brooklyn, NY. Over one hundred of his short stories have appeared in Nature, Analog, Strange Horizons, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and many other magazines and anthologies. He won the 2014 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction and was a two-time finalist for the Canopus Award for Excellence in Interstellar Fiction (2015 and 2017). He is the editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects annual anthology series of humorous SF/F, and of Future Science Fiction Digest. His epic fantasy novel, Eridani’s Crown, was published in 2019. His website is www.alexshvartsman.com.
His story, “A Thing Worth a Damn”, appears in the Weird World War III anthology.
Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background?
I’m a writer and translator from Brooklyn, NY. I was born in the country that no longer exists (USSR) and arrived via an airline that no longer exists (Pan Am.) So there’s truly no going back. So instead, I choose to write tall tales and also to translate from Russian fiction that I want to geek out about with my friends. I also edit anthologies and a magazine (Future Science Fiction Digest). Sometimes, I even find time to grab a quick nap.
What kinds of stories do you write? Why?
I tend to write a lot of humor, because the snarky, sarcastic voice is my default (Not that you could guess this from my Weird World War III story). However, I won’t be boxed in. I’ve written everything from space opera to political fantasy, the latter being the genre of my inaugural novel, Eridani’s Crown.
Which of your short stories is your favorite? Why?
Hands down, the favorite short story of mine is “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma.” It also happens to be my most successful, having won an award and been reprinted a bunch of times, but I also love it because it’s exactly the sort of combination of humor, action, and creative problem-solving that I enjoy committing to the page. This story is free to read online at the Intergalactic Medicine Show archive.
What authors have had the greatest influence on your writing? Why?
Fredrick Brown, Harry Harrison, Bob Sheckley, and Robert Silverberg, to name a few. I devoured their short story collections in translation growing up, and much of their style/approach to writing short fiction has really stuck with me.
Besides yourself, which other contemporary authors would you recommend?
Ken Liu, K. A. Teryna, and Shaenon K. Garrity are among my favorite contemporary short fiction authors.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
I once got turned away at the border crossing into Malaysia and kicked out back into Singapore. Buy me a coffee at a convention sometime and I will tell you the entire story.
Each of the stories in this volume evoked certain themes and emotions that can sometimes be approximated with music. The below video is the editor’s best interpretation of the feelings and themes that this author’s story evoked. Please note that this is only the editor’s interpretation. The author did not know this portion of the blog post existed until the editor published it.
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