‘Life Beyond Us’ interview: Julie E. Czerneda

Life Beyond Us is an anthology of astrobiology-themed original SF stories by 22 amazing authors of SF and accompanying essays by 22 scientists. The Kickstarter for the book is running right now, and I’ll be bringing you short interviews with each of the story authors. Today, please welcome Julie E. Czerneda!

Which branch of science fascinated you the most as a kid or teenager? And now?

When I was young, everything about biology and space was a passion. I dreamed of being the first biology in space, perhaps even deciphering an alien language. I went into university to do a joint biology/physics degree, and signed up for ground school, calculating that combination might get me into space. In grad studies, I continued my passion for how living things interact, researching chemical communication. And wrote SF in my spare time, so honestly? The dream kept going.

Can you hint at what’s your story going to be about?

Though this is preliminary, I enjoy examining first contact where the crucial piece of the puzzle is a difference in sensory perception.

Is there any place in the universe you’d love to see – where and why?

While I’ll always be deeply interested in space exploration, there’s still so much to see first hand on this planet, especially for a biologist, but also to see people as well.

What one technology today you can’t live without? Why?

“Can’t” would include modern medicine, food and energy production, shipping, etc. “won’t” is more within my grasp. We definitely shopped for our latest home based on where we could get high speed internet. To be connected these days is vital.

What do you see as the greatest scientific challenge of our time, and how can (or should) science fiction reflect that?

Climate change, more specially learning to live well on this planet, protecting the biodiversity on which all life depends. Science fiction abundantly addresses this and has for a long time. I do like work that pushes toward a sustainable, desirable future. I’ve no patience for apocalypse.

Why do you write science fiction?

Because the experiments and ideas that interest me most are either too difficult, too dangerous, or too immoral to actually conduct in real life. I wouldn’t, for example, destroy planets to illustrate the urgency of protecting life on this one. I can, and have, speculated on that imperative. I also can play with “what ifs” predicated on contacting other intelligences and build societies based on differences in biology. Which is great fun, believe me.


Julie E. Czerneda is a biologist and author of over 20 novels published by DAW Books: the Web Shifter’s Library series and other books. Her science fiction draws from and investigates the natural world, including us. Twitter: @julieczerneda


If you liked this interview, please check out the Kickstarter for Life Beyond Us!

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