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These are from timprov.


1. If someone started a eugenics program to breed superhumans in the sixteenth century, what kind of superhero powers might they have come up with?

Hmmm. Just eugenics? Superhuman as a goal, but actual reality as a substrate? Well, let's see. You could probably get some really alarming levels of strength and speed, if you tried hard. More interestingly, I might focus on people with excellent senses of direction and see where that goes when you spin it out deliberately. (Maybe there is subtle magnetic field sensing? Maybe there is extremely high subconscious attention to detail? Either could produce really cool second-order effects!). Also they should have six fingers and play otherwise-impossible harpsichord compositions.


2. What's your favorite dinosaur or dinosaur-era creature, and why?

Oh gosh. I have always had a fondness for Protoceratops, as they are very pleasant peaceful-seeming early members of the GIANT SPIKY FACES tribe. Utahraptor as described by Bob Bakker is an excellent creature, very modern and sleek and also huge and stabby. Hadrosaurs look so cool. Wee tiny baby sauropods are just adorableness. Pterosaurs are awesome, especially the big ones. And the little teeny ones. Plesiosaurs! Oh gosh plesiosaurs! And ichthyosaurs, one of the more impressive examples of convergent evolution even if you don't fall in love with their wonderful kinked tails, in which case you are heartless.

I'm not very good at "favorite".


3. "Urban Fantasy" tends to have a very narrow view of urban life. What's one actual urban thing that you would like to see in a fantasy novel?

Public services. Police turn up reasonably often in contemporary urban fantasy, but there's totally room for, say, urban fantasy firefighters: the special dragon response team, the absolute headache that is a fairy-arson spree, the salamanders that crawl away from major fires and start new ones the next day in the basements of nearby apartment buildings. Plus firefighters are sexy, so this would work very well with the whole paranormal romance trend.


4. One of your chickens lays an unusually interesting egg, and you (and possibly your family) are drawn into a fantastic tale of wonder and intrigue. How does it happen?

Definitely the family would come along. That's not in question. I'm envisioning someone starting to lay Easter eggs or pysanky, which is not so much a drawing-in kind of beginning as just a strange event, so that won't do. Golden eggs, perhaps -- definitely wonderful and intriguing. We'd have to put better security on the coop, once word got out. I would be concerned about radiation; I wonder if I know anyone with a Geiger counter. If it was only the one golden egg, there might some conflict around how to examine the chicken, with some force (could be an outside force, if informed; could be chinders) advocating for riskier or potentially destructive testing, and me on the defense side, but still of course wildly curious.


5. If you were going to take over a foreign country, which one would you choose?

China's huge and has great resources, so assuming I am just magically in charge and going to stay that way, it sounds like a good pick to me. Magic Queen Me would be a definite improvement in terms of human rights and so forth. If I actually need to take over myself, I'd need something smaller. I've been abstractly fond of Liechtenstein since I wrote a report on it in 9th grade; that might be a nice choice -- teensy, peaceful, rather conveniently located for travel. I feel like a whole existing country might be a bit much for me; buying up some islands and seceding always appeals.
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When you said "public services," I was thinking, like, libraries and road repair. Which also would be affected by salamanders, one would think, albeit not always negatively in the case of the road crews.

Yeah, those'd be good, too! That answer was longer before I glanced back at the question and saw the tragic, limiting little word "one" in it. Public transit is one of my favorite urban things for fantasy -- it's not missing from the genre (see Neverwhere), but it works so beautifully in a fantasy context. I'd love to see more of it.

I kinda want to read the firefighter novels, though. I'm thinking maybe Tanya Huff. Or Scott Lynch; he's fought fires, he'll have all kinds of terrifying detail to put in. They can have horrible pun titles, like Hot and Heavy (the one with the golems). The firefighters can hang out at the library and get frustrated by road repair, for verisimilitude.

This is kind of reminding me of The Case of the Toxic Spelldump, by I-want-to-say Harry Turtledove. Have you read that?

I have not read that.

Public transit in fantasy makes me think of the catbus in Totoro and the train in Spirited Away.

It's funny, and it looks into second-order consequences of things more than most fantasy does. I should note that I have not read it in some time, so the Suck Fairy may have been at it, but I liked it when I read it and have no particular reason to think that has changed.

I hope it hasn't. I have a bit of an unfair aversion to Turtledove's work because I had a grad school classmate who wanted to recount to me in detail every subplot of every Turtledove novel.

If you've read The Enormous Egg, that basically covers #4.

Speaking of utahraptors, has Chris told you of his Christmas raptor project?

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