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Interview

Hugh Howey p1

Readersvoice.com aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. For this issue I interviewed Hugh Howey and saw him give a talk at Supanova at the Gold Coast. He wrote the post-apocalyptic novel Wool and its subsequently published prequel Shift which are about a society living in silos, staring out at a toxic world. Hugh Howey gives many reading suggestions in this issue. By the way, the Lifeline Bookfest is on again in Brisbane, at the Convention Centre, South Brisbane, but for only four days this time, from June 8 to 11.

The author of post-apocalyptic novel Wool and its subsequently published prequel Shift, Hugh Howey, said he captained boats for the filthy rich for eight years. He travelled the world, seeing places like Cuba and Central America. Then, as a lot of sailors do he said, he fell in love and settled down. He now lives in South Florida. He started watching tv regularly, and saw the world through a single screen. The world seemed dangerous, he said, whereas when he had traveled to countries like Egypt, these places had seemed ok. This insight fed into his novel Wool, which features people living in silos after the outside world has been destroyed. They view the tattered landscape through a computer screen. Occasionally someone is sent outside, like Sheriff Holston of Silo-18, presumably to their deaths. They are expected to clean the screen sensors while they are out there. Usually they comply with this duty, like good sports, before being killed by toxins. Hugh Howey wondered: “And what if the world outside is better than it appears?”

Hugh Howey listed a lot of his favorite books and comics. The list demonstrates how much homework reading went into writing his novel Wool. Although, it was probably fun homework. He liked Ender’s Game (1985) by Orson Scott Card.
He said Neal Stephenson’s novels Diamond Age (1995) and Cryptonomicon (1999) were “must- reads”.
He said one had to read everything by Matthew Mather, author of CyberStorm and the six-part Atopia Chronicles.
He liked Peter F. Hamilton’s 1999 novel The Naked God, which was the third book in The Night’s Dawn Trilogy.
Another favorite was Lucifer’s Hammer, a post-apocalyptic 1977 novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.
“Comics have influenced me greatly,” he said. He liked The Watchmen. Also he liked Y: The Last Man, a Vertigo comic which had a run of 60 issues beginning in 2002.
Walking Dead comics were another favorite. This was a monthly comic beginning in 2003, chronicling the travels of survivors of a zombie apocalypse.
He liked science fiction classics like Asimov’s Foundation Saga, and most of the short stories of Phillip K. Dick (collected into books like We Can Remember It For You Wholesale).
He liked the Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse anthology, edited by John Joseph Adams, which included a Stephen King story “The End of the Whole Mess”.
Also he liked the After The End anthology, edited by Shane R. Collins.
He liked Neil Gaiman because he could write in any genre, children’s or adult.
In non-fiction he liked The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (2002) by Steven Pinker. One reviewer said Pinker skewers irrational targets with swift and classical neatness. Some of the book’s themes on human behavior and organisation emerge in Wool.
Also he liked The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do (1998) by Judith Rich Harris (with an introduction by Steven Pinker).
He liked Cosmos by Carl Sagan.
Also he liked Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays, and Rudyard Kipling.
Also he mentioned that he liked the 2009 sci fi film Moon.

– continued next page
– copyright Simon Sandall.

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