Brian Trent’s work regularly appears in Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Terraform, Daily Science Fiction, Apex, Pseudopod, Escape Pod, Galaxy’s Edge, Nature, and numerous year’s-best anthologies. The author of the recently published sci-fi novel Ten Thousand Thunders and the dark fantasy series Rahotep, Trent is a winner of the 2019 Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF Readers’ Choice Award from Baen Books and Writers of the Future. He lives in New England. His website is http://www.briantrent.com.
His story, “Shadow Rook Red”, appears in the Weird World War III anthology.
Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background?
I’m a speculative fiction writer from New England, and my work appears regularly in Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF (my story “Crash-Site” won the 2019 Readers Choice Award), Nature, Daily Science Fiction, and more. I grew up with a deep love for sci-fi, fantasy and horror, gleefully immersing myself in the classics and writing my own stories from a very young age. I’m also an obsessive reader of nonfiction. My brand of sci-fi tends to combine technology, history, and society… how they interact, and how they might interact. I consider short stories as laboratories to explore a host of subjects from a future perspective: addiction, war, evolution, threat, sacrifice… all the ingredients that go into the human drama.
If you could live in any time period, when would it be? Why?
It would likely be Alexandria, Egypt during the early Ptolemaic Dynasties. I’m enamored of Hellenism and the scientific and artistic inquiry associated with it. I’d hang out in the scented halls of the Great Library, enjoying access to that repository of knowledge and speculation; in those days, ships visiting port would be searched for books and those books would be copied, so the Library would always be expanding its contents (beyond the new works being written by local scholars). There was also active research going on, and lectures to attend, and warm weather, and a diverse city representing a crossroads of civilization. Yeah, count me in.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Two places tie for this: Italy and Japan. I’ve been to both and find them equally enchanting. Italy is an exquisite array of contrasting regions: Rome, Venice, Florence, Tuscany, Assisi and other locales have the qualities of independent city-states, complete with rich layers of history. The food and wine are reasons enough to go, along with their general celebration of appreciating the moment. Japan also has an extensive history, fascinating culture, and a rather unique duality that I like: Akihabara and Tokyo and Shinjuku seem to exist some 20 years in the future, while Nikko and Kyoto and Hakone preserve an older and rural quality: mist-wreathed village, ancient shrines, and simple elegance. I enjoy that contrast… cyberpunk with a healthy mix of shinrin-yoku.
What kinds of stories do you write? Why?
My writing preference is sci-fi over fantasy—I like the rational structures of the genre, the extrapolation from current state and fact. My story in Weird World War III is a good example of this preference: postulating how the Cold War of the ‘80s heats up when a new technology is introduced, and how it impacts geopolitical, cultural, strategic and tactical realties. I’m also a fan of worldbuilding, and the research and imaginative exercises that go along with that. A lot (but not nearly all) of my stories take place in the same far-future universe, too—it’s nice to have a sandbox that can yield different tales. Sometimes an oblique reference or seemingly throwaway line will generate its own spin-off. I enjoy the opportunities the genre affords me.
Which of your short stories is your favorite? Why?
I have to list two for different reasons. “The Memorybox Vultures” in F&SF (September/October 2018) is set in the near-future, when people continue to post on social media after their deaths… becoming post-mortem “quasints” based on their online posts made while alive. I like it because it seems inevitable, considering today’s ability of tagging people and scheduling future posts. Our infomorphic identities are already out there, after all.
My other favorite is “An Incident on Ishtar” in Analog (March/April 2018). It’s set on a Venusian aerostat colony in the far future, and on one hand is about a dangerous conspiracy… but fundamentally it’s about how far someone is willing to go for what’s important to them.
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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