Once upon a time, being married to a librarian meant that you could get a hold of books quite easily. Now it seems I can get a series of local events with some of my favourite authors thanks to a change in roles within Fife Libraries for Mrs MPT. That has led to the Sci-Fife series of events, launched here.
So last night we made the short trip along the road to St Andrews to see SF superstar Alastair Reynolds in the local library.
You never know quite what you will get at these events. Some authors, like Iain Banks and Alan Bissett, are effectively performers whilst occcasionally you come across others who can be a bit uncomfortable.
Al Reynolds may not be as extroverted as some of the above but he was clearly at home talking from brief notes in front of a pretty much sold out event. After speaking initially about his time at St Andrews University, when he not only got his PhD but also took some important early steps in his professional writing career, he then discussed his take on the Fermi Paradox.
I suspect most folk present knew the gist of the paradox (if there is extra terrestrial life out there why haven’t we found something?) but some perhaps won’t have known about recent strides in astronomy which have allowed us to positively identify 500 other planets outside our solar system with another 1,200 close to being confirmed. That background allowed Al to discuss the likelihood of extra terrestrial life very much in a scientific context.
Thereafter the session continued with a range of questions from a knowledgeable audience on his writing and influences and closed with a signing queue that featured as high a percentage of the audience as I’ve ever seen before. Whilst you sometimes get the feeling that you’re being churned through a sausage machine for these things that was most certainly not the case last night as Al took time to speak to everyone waiting.
All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening for all concerned including, thankfully (since last night was partly my idea!), Mrs MPT who was delighted with the turnout.
As anyone who’s read his blog knows Al is also a huge music fan, so I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without trying to get an interview. I’m delighted to be able to say that Al was very gracious with his time whilst in St Andrews and as a result there will be a special MPT podcast (or maybe even two) in the very near future in which he talks not just about his writing but also some of his favourite music.
Before that though we’ll get back to the rock’n’roll.