Nature Publication

I'm delighted to announce the publication of my story between two voices talking in Nature magazine. They also published a brief blog post commenting on the story, which I reproduce here:

Writing between two voices talking

The title of this piece came from some Markov-chain word-soup provided as a prompt by the great SF writer Vylar Kaftan. Hence the use of lowercase, because it was a random fragment taken from a randomly scrambled set of paragraphs randomly combined from multiple sources. To me, the title suggested a few words overheard from someone else’s conversation, perhaps people talking about conversation itself.

So what lies between two voices? A communication gap that can be bridged, but only with empathy and insight from both speakers. Of course any sort of connection between people can be fraught with fear and uncertainty. So all that led very naturally to the idea of a first-contact story between a human and an alien who are equally fearful, equally uncertain. Since the alien has already crossed the gulf between the stars, it seems that the gulf between minds may be even more challenging to overcome.

For me the crucial section of between two voices talking comes just before the end, when Marla and the alien’s conversation blends together with similar voices, expressing similar thoughts, to the point that without dialogue tags it would be impossible to say who was speaking. Surely the achievement of a meeting of minds, a rapport based on true understanding, is the ultimate challenge for all humans, and indeed for all intelligent life.