An interview with Shana Worthen

As promised, here’s a short interview with Shana Worthen, Vector’s incoming Features Editor, whose first issue, to which I am very much looking forward, should be out shortly after my last. You can find her current online home here. And many thanks to her for taking the time to answer my questions.

How did you get involved with the BSFA?

I started with the London pub meetings. I moved back to London from Toronto in early July of 2005 and my first BSFA pub night was later that month. After a year of attending, I became a member. It was shareware logic: pay for something after I have already had my money’s worth — not that memberships actually subsidize the meetings. How I first heard of the pub nights, I don’t specifically know, but I had been looking for regular fannish meetings here before I moved over. My inbox tells me that I started following Ansible in that May, so that’s a possibility.

What are your interests within sf?

Novels, poetry, and criticism, primarily. i also really like tie-in reference books! I have a small but growing accumulation of science fictionally-related cookbooks, for example. Movies, occasionally. I am very much interested in science fiction-related artwork, especially landscapes and maps, but can’t say I follow it in any systematic way at this point.

I often read through self-imposed projects, whether an award-related list or a friend’s set of recommendations. For the last several years, I’ve been getting to know the subgenre of science fiction romance in particular. I’m currently reading a short list of books recommended by a friend as a way of getting to know some of the more recent American science fiction publications.

Although I have caught at least one episode per season of Doctor Who, I don’t usually remember to watch television series. I grew up without a television and still have poor televisual instincts. iPlayer is useful, but only if I’m reminded in time to catch something. I did have a long spell back in Toronto of watching lots of anime, but most of it had not been broadcast locally in the first place.

And what do you do outside sf?

Professionally, I’m a historian of medieval technology. It still seems improbable that my day job is teaching online for a university on the other side of the ocean, but it’s true.

Food is my major hobby. I love eating good things, and will cook if need be to have them. I love trying new restaurants, and reading food criticism and related essays and blogs. I mostly read cookbooks rather than cook from them. This also explains my science fiction cookbooks, many of which are only partially designed to be cooked with. I’ve been thinking a lot in the last year about why science fiction and fantasy tend to be so conservative in its use of food technologies. I’ve been dabbling in related academic work too: I have an article coming out next year on smoked foods in fantasy literature.

I like seeing new places, whether industrial tourism, museums, or countryside. I like theatrical musicals, drawing with watercolour pencils, and photographing reflections.

What plans do you have for Vector? What can we expect from your first issue?

My plan is to try to live up to the standard set in the last few years! I will be trying for clusters of related articles rather than the entire themed issues, however.

I’m starting off with the usual year-in-review issue, so the majority of the content will be looking back at 2010. I am happy to report that there will also be two new columns appearing in my first issue. Paul Kincaid is writing one which will revisit older short stories. Terry Martin began a column on graphic novels and comics for Matrix which will now be appearing regularly in Vector. Also, Anthony Nanson has an article on an Arthurian trilogy by Stephen Lawhead.

Are you looking for any sort of submission in particular?

Although Vector‘s focus will remain primarily on text, I would love to see interesting and varied submissions which look at science fiction more broadly. For example, I would love to read more critical work on science fiction drama and science fictional art exhibits. I’d be interested in seeing articles on the relationship between original texts and their adaptations, whether to film or graphic novel. I am actively looking for more articles on science fiction poetry.

Any submission I can learn something from is a good one.

How can people contact you?

I’ll be taking over the email address soon; is my usual email address.

3 thoughts on “An interview with Shana Worthen

  1. One of the best quotes of the year so far: “I have an article coming out next year on smoked foods in fantasy literature.” Please post the link when it’s available!

  2. I’m glad you like the concept! By “next year”, I really meant “this year” – the hazards of writing these things around New Year’s. It should be out in the summer.

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