SP: Barrie, you are a New Zealander. Why did you set Chapter Two of your new science fiction novel in Paris? Why not in New Zealand?
BC: A very good question, Ian. Well, central to the novel, I have created Artume Project, a fictional international nuclear physics research organization. Being an international organization, it would not have made much sense to base it in faraway New Zealand. It needed to be in the Northern Hemisphere and near to existing centres of quantum physics research. I headquartered it in Paris because I am familiar with Paris. I lived there in the early 1990’s and have visited Paris several times since then. While I could have based Artume Project in Geneva, and made it a division, say, of CERN, that might have caused confusion. The completely fictional Artume Project is a new organization with a very specific mission to research Dark Energy with a laboratory on the far side of the Moon.
SP: Yes, I see. You didn’t consider basing it in the US?
BC: No, but as readers will find, the US figures very importantly in some other chapters of the story.
SP: Were there any other reasons for featuring Paris?
BC: Well, I am a fan of Jules Verne and a large part of his working life was spent in Paris. Also Paris is the home of a number of important international organizations.
SP: Yes, but a lot of S.F. is based in the US.
BC: Yes, especially by mid 20th century US writers. They would have been strongly influenced by the American space program, the cold war, and developments in computers and robotics. There is a long tradition of US S.F. writing. But the UK and other countries also have important S.F. authors.
SP: Even New Zealand?
BC: Indeed, thought not many. Many NZ novelists write in genres that focus on NZ topics and locations.
SP: Not you?
BC: For science fiction it seems more natural for me to set my novels in Europe and America. If I were to write a novel in another genre I may set it in NZ, or at least in part. I prefer to include travel in my stories.
SP: We have been talking mainly about ‘Star Island’. Where are the other books in the ‘Planetoid Trilogy‘ set?
BC: Mainly in space. The approaching meteor (or planetoid) draws the principal characters and the main action out into deep space to meet it beyond the orbit of Pluto.
SP: No spoilers?
BC: Yes, we should perhaps stop here before I say too much (smiles).
SP: Thank you, Barrie. We will have more questions for you next time.
BC: My pleasure. Thank you Ian.