Today's featured author is Ira Nayman, author of Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience). When asked for a bio written in the third person, he responded with: "Ira Nayman is a third person."
What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?
Speculative fiction, at its best, can illuminate the present, giving readers enough distance from current events to be able to appreciate them more than straight fiction can. The proliferation of military space fiction, for instance, gives readers a view of war (usually against aliens) that might be harder for them to accept if the same story was set on Earth (with human beings fighting other human beings). It can also help us think through issues of the “other;” after all, if we can understand and even empathize with the aliens in a science fiction story, why can’t we do the same for human beings, whose differences from us are not as stark?
Finally, science fiction stories can serve as cautionary tales: by projecting current trends into the future, it can warn us not to keep acting the way we do in the present. You see this most often in dystopian science fiction, but it can appear in any kind of sci fi story.
Why do you write in this genre?
As a satirist by day, I am drawn to the cautionary tale aspects of the genre. But there is an even more compelling reason: one of the fundamental elements of humour is surprise. With most jokes, you don’t see the punchline coming. And, invariably, the more surprising (but, ultimately, appropriate once you’ve had an opportunity to think about it) the punchline, the funnier the joke.
Science fiction, because you can create whole races and worlds, is a playground of the unexpected, with potential surprises everywhere you turn. I find it meshes well with my comic sensibility.
I found that it grew organically out of other things I had been writing. The chain goes something like this:
1) in 2002, I began a Web site of political and social satire called Les Pages aux Folles.
2) I had written a couple of fake news articles for the Web site when it occurred to me that I could feature fake news from alternate realities. Thus, the Alternate Reality News Service was born; it sends reporters into other dimensions, and has them write news articles about what they find there. (I have self-published five collections of those stories as of this writing.)
3) When I decided, three years ago, that I wanted to write a novel, I knew I wanted to go in a different direction than I had been before, but I wasn’t sure exactly what. I recalled that, in two or three of the Alternate Reality News Service stories, I had mentioned something called The Transdimensional Authority, which monitors and polices travel between dimensions. This seemed like a good starting point: it suggested that the story would involve travel between multiple dimensions (which it eventually did), as well as some sort of crime and investigation. Once I had determined the characters and the nature of the crime, everything else kind of flowed out of that.
What was your biggest challenge in writing it?
Keeping track of plot details to make sure that they hung together. This was my first novel, and there is nothing quite as complex to create; not only that, but I do have a tendency to digress. Ah, well. I’m sure if there are problems with the plot, keen-eyed science fiction readers will find them!
What are you working on now?
I have finished a follow-up novel, You Can’t Kill the Multiverse (But You Can Mess With its Head), and am currently half-way through a third novel that stands apart from anything I have previously written. I continue to update Les Pages aux Folles weekly with new writing and cartoons; this will soon include new Alternate Reality News Service articles that will eventually be collected into the sixth book in the series. And, when I have the time, I write short stories.
Nothing too ambitious.
About Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience)
This hilarious science-fiction comedy novel follows the first case for Noomi Rapier, rookie investigator with The Transdimensional Authority – the organisation that regulates travel between dimensions. When a dead body is found slumped over a modified transdimensional machine, Noomi and her more experienced partner, Crash Chumley, must find the dead man’s accomplices and discover what they were doing with the technology. Their investigation leads them to a variety of realities where Noomi comes face-to-face with four very different incarnations of herself, forcing her to consider how the choices she makes and the circumstances into which she is born determine who she is.
Ira Nayman’s new novel is both an hilarious romp through multiple dimensions in a variety of alternate realities, and a gentle satire on fate, ambition and expectation. Ira’s style is at times surreal, even off-the-wall, with the humour flying at you from unexpected angles; he describes it as fractal humour. Anyone who has read his Alternate Reality News Service stories will know how funny Ira is. The characters we meet from around the multiverse deserve to become firm favourites with all fans of science fiction comedy.
“Welcome to the Multiverse is a cracking read that almost had me in stitches, fresh and original humour from a comedy genius.” - Antony Jones, SF Book Reviews