Welcome to the Amazing Stories BLOG HORDE INTERVIEWS!
The ASM Blog Horde is a diverse and wonderful species. I have the privilege of talking with all of them, and I get to share those chats with you. In this long-running series, you will have the opportunity to peek inside the minds of the ASM bloggers to to see just what makes them tick.
I hope you enjoy the series as much as I have enjoyed preparing it for you. Please feel free to ask questions, or just let the Horde know you’ve stopped by for a visit.
Bloggers love comments, so let them know you’re out there!
KRISTINA GRIFANTINI is a Boston-based, award-winning science writer. She currently works in communications for a children’s healthcare nonprofit by day, and blogs and writes by night. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and Boston University, and has lurked in research labs at Columbia University and MIT.
Fran Friel for Amazing Stories: Thank you so much for joining me, Kristina. I’m excited to share your interview with our ASM readers. Please tell us how you became interested in blogging for Amazing Stories Magazine.
Kristina Grifantini: I’ve always bounced between the spheres of science and science fiction, and blogging for Amazing Stories seemed like a great way to merge these two interests. There is so much incredible research in labs and universities right now that makes great fodder for stories—it only takes a nudge to imagine all of the fantastical possibilities just around the corner.
ASM: I like the way you think. I find science a never-ending inspiration. As you know, Kristina, Amazing Stories Magazine has a wide variety of blogging categories. In what categories can we find your blogs?
KG: I mainly blog about science, with a focus on technology, biomedicine and robotics. I am interested in augmented realities, immersive technologies and other inventions equivalent to mobile phones and GPS, things that have had a wide range of impacts on society, literally transforming humankind. I also explore the real-world obstacles of cool technologies that seem on the brink, trying to answer questions like: Where’s my jetpack? Where are my augmented reality contacts? Where’s my robot assistant?
ASM: OK, your blog is definitely on my reading list now! Could you tell us a little bit about your previous work in the publishing industry?
KG: I started off working as a lab technician and science geek before transitioning into science journalism. As a journalist at MIT’s Technology Review magazine, I covered the latest in robotics, medicine, computing and other areas. As a freelance writer, I have written features on astronomy for Sky & Telescope magazine and various other places. I also write speculative fiction.
ASM: Wow, that’s impressive, Kristina. You certainly are an asset to our blogging team. How might you categorize the style of blog you enjoy writing for Amazing Stories? Humorous, informational, instructional?
KG: At Amazing Stories Magazine, I strive to capture those bits of science progress that catapult the imagination in new directions. I also try to stay firmly grounded, because there are so many news outlets and blog posts hyping up minute advances in technology without really addressing the real-world challenges and practicalities of those advances. I mine through the news and try to find the shiniest bits of progress that have real substance and give a balanced, realistic analysis.
ASM: There’s a lot of “mining” to be done. I appreciate anyone who finds those shiny bits for me, so I don’t fall down the search engine Rabbit Hole.
As you know, Amazing Stories Magazine is focusing on the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Do you have a favorite?
KG: Genres are tricky. I like slipstream and speculative, or a hybrid of sf and horror—things that blur the boundaries are most interesting to me, because it seems more indicative of the weird, random (or coincidental) reality we live in.
ASM: How about your favorite authors? What keeps you coming back to their work? And do you have any recommendations for us?
KG: The authors that had a huge impact on me when I was young include: Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye, my first introduction to a impressionistic stream-of-consciousness style; Herman Hesse, Narcissus and Goldmund, for illustrating the tension and balance between the artistic and the logical: and George Orwell, 1984, for leaving me with a perpetual sense of paranoia. I have to throw in R.L. Stine, as well, whose books kept me entirely disturbed and entranced while growing up. I met him last year in Cambridge, MA—he’s a really nice guy.
More recently, I keep coming back to Philip K. Dick for his completely unique style; Joe Haldeman for his grounded, realistic and thoughtful portrayals of science fiction and war, as well as strong, diverse characters; J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins for their life-changing worlds and strong female characters; and Stephen King for his boundless creativity and his dance between horror and fantasy. His collection of short stories, Everything’s Eventual, in particular blew me away.
ASM: Great inspirations, Kristina. Have you read any new or lesser-known authors you would like to bring to our attention?
KG: Can I talk about magazines instead? Shimmer Magazine had some great pieces in their last issue (#16, print only). I read some fantastic stories in the most recent Apex Magazine, as well, especially enjoying “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky and “The Fairy Library” by Tim Pratt.
My favorite short story writers right now include Mishell Baker ( “Vaporware” on Redstone Science Fiction), Cheryl Rydbom (“The Jenny,” also on Redstone), David Tallerman (“Dancing in the Winter Rooms,” on the Electric Velocipede) and Justina Robson (“The Little Bear,” on Lightspeed Magazine). I have also enjoyed many short stories by Adam-Troy Castro.
ASM: Excellent! Thanks for the recommendations, Kristina. What are you reading now? How is it so far?
KG: I’m currently reading Stephen King and Peter Straub’s, The Talisman (first book in a series). It is unsettling and absorbing; no one knows how to dance between horror and fantasy and pull in the reader in such a visceral way quite like Stephen King.
I also recently finished Slow River by Nicola Griffith, which was a great read with dynamic female characters.
ASM: You mentioned Nicola and a few other women writers. What do you see as some of the issues facing women in science fiction?
KG: We still see a lot of unequal representation in society, and SF publishing and fandom is no exception. In Hollywood, for example, the lone hero and supporting female love interest is still the tired default. At cons and in online fan forums we still hear about high levels of harassment. The genre of SF, with its willingness to explore unusual ideas, has been one avenue to break down and explore gender stereotypes and constructs, with Ursula Le Guin and Octavia Butler two examples of pioneers.
Things are getting better, but very slowly. Women make up 51% of the population, so we’ll know things are truly equal when ~50% of publishers, writers, politicians, CEOs, and so forth, are women.
KG: The classic genre movies I return to again and again are Back to the Future (1, 2 & 3), Dark City, and Altered States. In the recent past, I enjoyed Cabin in the Woods, and The Avengers—I am a huge Joss Whedon fan. Few creators, particularly in Hollywood blow apart tired stereotypes and expectations like he does.
The most recent genre film I enjoyed was Safety Not Guaranteed. Though the science is light to non-existent, it’s a charming story whose premise—an ad in the paper seeking a fellow time traveler—can’t help but intrigue. Next on my to-watch list is Robot & Frank.
ASM: I loved Robot & Frank. I’ll look forward to hearing what you think.
OK, now let’s go a little further behind the curtain. What is your “secret” pleasure or obsession?
KG: I love comic books. The various X-men series from the 90s are my absolute favorite. Nowhere else at that time in mainstream TV or literature could you see a roughly equal representation of male and female superheroes on a team. And the heroines—Rogue, Storm, and Jean Grey—are sexy but strong, confident but conflicted; in short, realistic characters for the genre.
Nowadays I’ve branched into other publishing companies and styles. I’m hooked on Saga and recently enjoyed the first volume in Orbital. I have Prophet and The Manhattan Projects at the top of my to-read pile.
ASM: Good choices! I personally love the juicy artwork in those comics. It’s really quite beautiful.
Well, it appears our time is up all too soon. Thank you so much for sharing some of your life and interests with us, Kristina. It’s been my sincere pleasure getting to know you here at ASM. Where else may our readers find you on the Web?
For an archive of tech and science stories, you can visit my website at www.KristinaG.com.
For up-to-date news on science and literatures oddities, I tweet at @kgrifant.
Dear Amazing Readers, thank you for being with us. I hope you’ve enjoyed tonight’s interview. Please come back next week for another featured blogger in the Amazing Stories Blog Horde Series.
We’ll keep the light on for you!