Some Thoughts with … Aliette de Bodard [English]

22 Oct 2022

The Author/s

Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard

ENGLISH: Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She has won three Nebula Awards, an Ignyte Award, a Locus Award, a British Fantasy Award and four British Science Fiction Association Awards, and was a double Hugo finalist for 2019 (Best Series and Best Novella).

SPANISH: Ingeniera informática y escritora, actualmente vive en París. Ha ganado varios premios, entre ellos tres Nébula, un Locus y cinco de la Asociación Británica de Ciencia Ficción. Medio francesa y medio vietnamita, siente un interés especial por las culturas no occidentales, en concreto por las de Asia y la América precolombina.

Entre sus obras más celebradas se encuentran La maestra del té y la detective (Premio Nébula y British Fantasy Award 2019), Three Cups of Grief by Starlight (BSFA 2015) y Fireheart Tiger (BSFA 2021). Es además autora de la trilogía Dominion of the Fallen, ambientada en un París posapocalíptico y de la cual forma parte la premiada The House of Shattered Wings (BSFA 2015). En 2019 sus relatos del Universo de Xuya fueron nominados a la mejor serie de los Premios Hugo y su novela In the Vanishers’ Palace a los Lammy.

The Interview

Welcome to my favourite section of the blog, talking with authors. Today we are lucky to have with us Aliette de Bodard, creator of the Xuya universe and different speculative fiction works.

Let’s dive in!

1.- When did you start writing?

Technically aged 10 or 12 when I wrote an illustrated book about finding the daughter of the emperor of space–there were space cats involved, and it mostly convinced me that my future wasn’t in illustration! I actually picked it up again at age 17 when I was living in London.

2.- Xuya universe is really original as a concept, when did the idea appear?

In 2010 or so! I wanted to draw on the traditions I grew up with, so I focused on an empire drawn from classical Confucian culture rather than Ancient Rome or a future version of the US. I added the mindships because I wanted to talk about birth and families.

3.- How would you define the genre you write: science fantasy, maybe?

I use speculative fiction myself, or simply science fiction.

4.- In the Tea Master and the Detective, we see a society where the family is one of the main pillars; did you draw the inspiration from the Vietnamese tradition?

Family is very important to me and it’s also an important value in traditional Vietnamese society, I think.

5.- Spaceships are really different from the classic science-fiction concept, as well as space works differently. Could you explain a little bit of the inspiration behind this concept?

Oh, basically I wanted some fast travel because being limited by the speed of light posed all sorts of logistical problems (it’s hard to maintain a space empire that spans a galaxy if every ship requires months to travel to a single planet in the same solar system, for starters). So I imagined deep spaces, which are pockets where space and time are distorted, and where one can travel really fast–but where everything gets really weird and it can be disorienting and alienating, both for ships and humans. 

6.- As tea is one of your main interests, I feel I should ask this: which tea is your favourite?

That’s a trick question! Generally green teas or lightly-oxidized oolongs like Tie Guan Yin or Alishan, but I’m warming up to teas with higher degrees of oxidation–my latest is Cui Yu which is a Taiwanese tea I got from my local tea shop and which I’m quite enjoying, it’s got a taste of roasted nuts and it’s quite warming in this colder seas season.

7.- What can we expect from Aliette de Bodard in the future?

I have two books coming out in the Xuya universe: The Red Scholar’s Wake, out Nov 2022, which is lesbian space pirates inspired by the South China sea pirates, and another book in the same universe, A Fire Born of Exile, in 2023, which is a female Count of Monte Cristo in space, with an added romance.