Andri Snær Magnason’s cyberpunk novel LoveStar (Seven Stories Press) has been compared to the works of George Orwell, Douglas Adams, and Kurt Vonnegut, and has even earned Magnason a nomination for a Philip K. Dick Award. Which made us want to ask him, “Why Would Gamers Like Your Book?”
EGM: First things first: Why would gamers like your books?
Andri Snær Magnason: Well, the gamers I know have quite an imagination, and there are some very computer tech based themes that appealed to my nerdiest friends.
And I’ve actually worked with the founders of EVE Online, a game where 300,000 people are waging galactic space wars. We were not working on games, we were fighting plans to destroy a vast part of the Icelandic highlands for Alcoa. But we discussed a lot about the differences between reality and virtual reality. Is your need to drink sugared water from an aluminum can more real than working all night on your virtual spaceship with your friends? Is your prestige as the best in a game 300,000 people are playing less real than being a manager of a company? Are you a failure if you have a crap car and you are not a CEO while you are the king of a virtual galaxy?
Though I’m not sure I can use the term “gamers” about one group with one specific taste. Gamers like nature, politics, and poetry as well as non-fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi. I think that is good.
EGM: It’s been compared to the works of George Orwell, Kurt Vonnegut, and Douglas Adams. Are there any games that were an influence or inspiration on it?
ASM: I am hooked on a social game called Facebook. You gather people and call them “friends” and then you say something. And because it takes some writing skills to make a clever, political, or sad status update, I tend to get many so called “likes.” As shallow it might sound, it is a strangely rewarding feeling. Better than points in a game. I tried this game because it was something very similar to the world I created in LoveStar, when the corporation has found a way to transmit data directly to our heads via “birdwaves” and make us all free from devices. So everything is mapped, everyone is connected, everyone is online always — and everything gets kind of messed up. So I tried Facebook and it’s true: It has messed me up. I am addicted to the “likes.” I need at least five to get up in the morning. In LoveStar, people are tweeting all the time and you get “likes” all the time for buying the right products. I wrote it before the sites opened. If only I had gone into computers, I would be a billionaire. But I think it is good for the book was written before all that. It gave me a better focus on the underlying trends and possible things than just doing a parody of existing things.
EGM: What about other authors, are there any other authors that were a big influence on the book, but no one’s picked up on them yet?
ASM: My early influence was by reading too much folklore, poetry, and mythology while reading science and trying med school. Other writers include Karel Capek, [Mikhail] Bulgakof, [Italo] Calvino, [Jorge Luis] Borges, and Icelandic writers and poets. Brautigan had quite an influence on LoveStar. I was kind of imagining a world before In Watermelon Sugar [Brautigan’s 1968 novella] when I started writing, but that changed so much that I would not call it a prequel.
EGM: Do you think the book could be made into a videogame?
ASM: I can see the movie very clearly but it would be funny to make something out of it like Farmville. You plant an idea and grow an empire.
EGM: What about your other books, do you think any of them could be made into a game?
ASM: You could merge Dreamland and LoveStar into a world like EVE Online. It is a world a bit like our planet. So you enter the teams, called corporations, thousands of them. The group trying to destroy as much nature as it can and create brands instead of species. You have machines, political power, planning authorities explosives, money, guns, tanks, and nuclear bombs. Then there is one group trying to protect the planet but it only has signs and petitions. The game explores how long this planet can last.
EGM: Do you think any of your other books might be of interest to gamers?
ASM: LoveStar is probably best, and I actually know that from phone calls from boys in their 20s thanking me for the book. The ideas are so many. But The Story Of The Blue Planet [Magnason’s 2012 children’s book] has also worked very well.
EGM: If you could either write a videogame or write a novel based on a game, what game would you write about?
ASM: Tough question. Probably Space Invaders. I would write about 8-bit monsters coming from space.
LoveStar is out now in paperback and ebook.