TCT’s Hollywood Interview #21

…with Stephen Palmer

The Cartesian Theatre now welcomes guests from around the worldosphere, with an invitation to tell us all about themselves – in 25 words or less. Okay, okay, it’s not as bad as all that: they get 25 words per answer. They can wax lyrical if they want, but beware: I edit with an axe…


This week let’s give a big hand to Stephen Palmer, a speculative fiction author whose early work littered my murky past, and whom I was pleasantly startled to find myself sharing online space with earlier this year.

Hi, Stephen, tell us “all” about yourself.

I’m British, middle-aged, and since 1996 I’ve had a few novels published, mostly with a “green” or environmental theme, mostly in the far future.

What is the most inspirational thing you’ve ever read – and why?

The Sane Society by Erich Fromm, because it made me realise that developing a scientific description of the human condition was a possibility; indeed, it is now a necessity.

What was your first published work?

Memory Seed, set in the last surviving Earth city, over-run by plants, telling of a band of… possible survivors. I won’t spoil the ending.

How about that — nineteen years ago I bought your first novel! So, what is the best thing you’ve never had published?

A novel called Humani, set a million years in the future, in which three groups of characters discover the truth about their extraordinary world.

What are you most proud of – in your life, not just your writing?

I’m happy that twenty-eight years ago I became vegetarian. It’s one the simplest, and most effective ways of combatting environmental destruction.

Tell us about your latest work – novel, short story, shopping list, whatever.

Beautiful Intelligence is a fast paced, near future philosophical thriller set mostly in Africa that investigates two possible routes to making a conscious machine.

Pitch us your unwritten masterpiece – you’re in the Hollywood elevator now…

What if, in 800 million years, animal/plant life is about to collapse because CO2 levels are zero? Will human beings be around to care?

If only one person was to ever read your work – who would you want it to be?

Nicholas Humphrey – because his work on the social intelligence theory of human consciousness has had a direct impact on some of my novels.

Hmm, good choice, I see he’s worked with Daniel Dennett, one of my favourite science writers. So, what are your plans for the future – all of it?

To survive for enough years to write something really fabulous.

Okay, my thanks to Stephen for not buckling under the pressure! You can find out more about his fiction, past and present, at his blog StephenPalmerSF, and maybe he’ll come back again one day more under relaxed circumstances…

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