Escape and connection in an ever more bewildering world
I was fourteen when I threw my first book across the room. It was Angela Carter’s post-apocalyptic parable Heroes And Villains, the story of how a girl called Marianne learns to become stronger than everyone else around her, from the scientists to the savages.
Carter made me care. More than that, she made me fall in love with Marianne. And then she subjected her to an offhand cruelty that made me a third thing: furious. I dashed the book into the wall in disgust.
A little while later, I picked it up and read it on to the end.
In everything I write, I aim to provoke as powerful a reaction: as strong a sense of connection in as inviolate a reality. Of course, this could be dangerous if you’re reading my book on your smartphone, so there’s always a paperback version. And it hasn’t done its job until it sits on your shelf with a broken spine just like my beloved copy of Heroes And Villains.
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You can also visit me on my Amazon page. The Amazon pages for my pseudonyms are here: Penny Maez, Kare Mois, Scott Meze. There is no author page for Catherine Mays but you can jump straight to her book.
Speculation beyond the frame
Speculative fiction has locked itself into a ghetto. In its narrowest definition, the written literature is all essentially the same, within a few carefully delimited sub-genres (space opera, military science fiction, techno-thrillers, and so on). What was once the literature of the new has grown staid and morally conservative.
Meanwhile, and perhaps not coincidentally, its readership has shrunk. Today’s written genre has little in common with the speculative fiction that powers many of our best contemporary movies.
My own speculative fiction is reverential to the past, and in tune with popular culture, and upholds many heroes. But it follows its own path, one that is not constrained by anybody else’s artistic or genre limitations. It is fluid, cross-genre, as rooted in highbrow fiction, the fiction of relationships and of deeply felt human emotions, as of unusual ideas and clever twists.
It is challenging, open-minded, and open-hearted. At its center are people, as flawed as the rest of us but always described with sympathy and never with ridicule. I believe that people are smarter than the genre expects, liberal at heart but defensive of their values, and uncomfortable with formula.
Mine is a journey that can take you anywhere. It expands to the biggest possible frame, to the greatest sense of wonder, but it remains small and personal at the core. It can be fearless and outspoken, it can astonish and terrify, but it is always generous, and bound by firm standards and fiercely upheld internal rules.
Robert Maas was born in England. From Wells and Wyndham to Ballard and beyond, he has reveled in the multitude of ways in which his home has been destroyed by vengeful nature and marauding and discriminating aliens. He now lives in Tokyo, enabling him to experience the destruction of his home in many new and inventive ways.
In The Smart Core Manifesto, Maas defined a body of speculative fiction, stretching back to the 19th century, that embraces scientific verisimilitude rooted in the universe we perceive and maintains a bailiwick against the worst encroachments of fantasy.
In his own smart core, ordinary people are faced with extraordinary challenges and terrifying odds. They are not heroes. They don’t have superpowers to aid them or magic to save them. They fight, and sometimes they fail. Whether good or bad, right or wrong, Maas’s humans are lost only when they abandon the things that make them worthy of their own respect.