FANTASTIC NOTIONS

Three Questions with Katie M. Flynn

The Companions author discusses her new novel, favorite science-fiction titles, and what it’s like to write during a pandemic.

What was the genesis of your novel, The Companions?
During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, I began exploring the idea of life under quarantine through short stories, quarantine being an interesting way to examine our increasingly isolated lives. I started drafting The Companions in 2013, introducing a new product during a prolonged quarantine: the dead uploaded to machines intended to combat loneliness.

What is some of your favorite science fiction?
I’m interested in issues of the body and autonomy, companions being property, lacking the basic rights of people despite their human desires, so it’s not surprising that I’d love Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl and Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous.

What kind of novels might emerge from the current moment?
Certainly, people are writing pandemic novels, but what readers will need in the future are stories about possibility and expansiveness over chaos and smallness.

Explore the complete Science Fiction Special Section in Alta’s Summer 2020 issue. 

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