the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Matthew Alan Thyer’ Category

big red buckleThe Big Red Buckle, by Matthew Alan Thyer

published December 2013

where I got it: received copy from the author











A 1500 kilometer race the dangers of Mars. Failure means injury, embarrassment, and possibly death.

You had me at “Mars”.  but racing? sports? Wait,  what?

okay, let’s start at the beginning.

The Grand Martian Traverse is a 1500 km race, pushing competitors to their physical and mental limits.  Much of the race is run, but the huge cliffs, canyons and craters on Mars allow for unprecedented thermal air currents, encouraging competitors to leap off cliffs and glide on foldable hang-gliders as far as possible. For long distance and endurance runners, this is what they’ve been preparing for their entire life.  Martian colonists, Terrans, spectators, sponsors and the media flock to the event to see history being made.  Besides accolades and sponsorship awards, the winner receives the Big Red Buckle.

What all that really means is that wealthy competitors have the best equipment and huge entourage  support teams, and regular folks like you and me would typically have used equipment and are forced rely on our families and friends to be our support teams.  Terrans also have an unfair advantage, that of living in higher gravity.  Running and leaping in lower gravity is easy for the Terrans.  But only a Martian colonist would know the secrets of the Red Planet.

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It was just about a month ago that I met author Matthew Thyer at Confusion. We hit it off, he sent me home with a copy of his new novella The Big Red Buckle (review will be posted later this week), and we’ve been emailing and tweeting back and forth a bit since them.  After some initial confusion on my part, we ended up trading interviews.  You can learn more about Matt by following him on twitter, or checking out his blog, Feet For Brains, where he talks about writing, publishing, technology, traveling the world, parenting, and more.  He’s a pretty cool guy, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again at ConText later this year.

In our extensive interview, we talk publishing, sports, influential authors, NaNoWriMo, getting into science fiction, and more!

matt thyer

LRR: The Big Red Buckle is a novella in the scifi subgenre of “sports in space”. How did you come to the decision to make sports a large part of the story?

MT: It was not so much a decision as a happy circumstance. The Big Red Buckle was a short story I took to a critique group for fun. I am a huge fan of endurance sports, and I had written this piece because I could not shake the idea. The critique group liked it, way more than I had expected anyone would, they gave me some feedback and I went home and let it mature. Soon it had doubled, then tripled in size and the concept, “sports in space”, seemed like more and more like a series.

In the days before NaNoWriMo I was doing a great deal of preparation work for a novel idea and in tandem with that I finished the first one and outlined three more stories in the “sports in space” series. All the stories are based on sports I enjoy, but they were also world building exercises.

Why sports? Well, think about all the hubbub that we just lived through. Another Super Bowl is done and gone. High enough anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere it’s hockey and the Stanley Cup that are celebrated with equal vigor. Europe and South America have soccer. Sport is a huge part of any contemporary human society.

If fiction is supposed to be a mirror for self observation than this particular sub-genre seems underrepresented. With the series, I hoped to address a couple of issues. With The Big Red Buckle, in particular, what happens to sports that have a money problem (see Professional Bicycle Racing). I wanted to juxtapose athletes with elite levels of funding next to the people who compete because they love the activity. Book two, Up Slope, is more about a sport that is used as a utility, how it affects us mentally and physically, and becomes a part of our lives which can bridge functional gaps. How a sport, especially in a non-professional setting, makes better people.

Books three and four, will have similar thought experiments going within them.

big red buckle

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.