Interview: Sean Williams

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

Two people find a connection despite being at very different ends of the transhuman spectrum, while stuck in an apparently hopeless dead-end on a broken alien matter-transporter loop stretching all across the universe.

What was the genesis of the storywhat was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I had the setting of the Loop rattling around in my head for years but never found the right theme to pair it with, and the characters come from another story that never quite got over the line. It’s often this way, that a commission will strike new sparks from old flint. At first glance, there’s nothing about Armored that speaks directly to this idea, these people, but the more I matched them up against each other, the more it made sense.

Emotionally, the core of the story is hope even in the face of unspeakable loss. The sense of wonder we experience when we gaze on stupendous alien tech is the same, I think, as when we see people bounce back against the odds. Fixing the Loop meant fixing my main characterssomehow.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

As is often the case with this kind of story, this kind of world, the main challenge was keeping a preponderance of interesting but irrelevant stuff out of it.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

I love love stories. (Who doesn’t?) Also, I’m obsessed with matter transporter yarns. I’ve written close on a million words using the trope, and now I’m writing a PhD on the subject. So whatever speaks to me about the idea has a voice in this story, too

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

None, I’m pleased to say, just a whole lot of speculation on ways to make this cul-de-sac feel lived-in.

What is the appeal of power armor/mecha? Why do so many writersor you yourselfwrite about it? Why do you think readers/viewers/gamers love it so much?

For me, it’s a transformative thing, either temporarily (someone puts on power armor for a mission) or permanently. It’s an enhancement of power and vulnerability both, because once you have armor, so might everyone else, and then it’s just a matter of engineering and resources as to who comes out on top. Sometimes I look at the drivers of mammoth SUVs sometimes and imagine what kind of shit the world would be in if we gave them mecha . . . .

What are some of your favorite examples of power armor/mecha (in any media), and what makes them your favorites?

I’m a big fan of the first two Patlabor movies. I like my mecha to feel gritty and lived in, along with the world they inhabit, and Mamoru Oshii’s futuristic worlds have that quality in spades. The Evangelions are cool and all, but I never get the feeling that they’ll ever be coming to a city near me any time soon. I want to take one of these for a drive.