Sean Williams is a science-fiction author – a New York Times best-selling science-fiction author, no less – who makes even non-genre writers look like hack amateurs. He’s published over sixty short stories and twenty-freakin’-one novels, including his most recent, Saturn Returns, a gender-bending gothic-noir space opera filled with sex and conspiracies (but no assholes) set to be released in the States tomorrow. He lives in Australia, where he shares an apartment with a Koala bear and hunts his own food with a very, very large knife. That last part probably isn’t true, but it’s what I assume happens in Australia and I’m not about to be told any differently.


“I can’t actually draw my asshole,” Sean admitted to me, “because it’s so prim and controlling that it’s vanished up itself, which is kinda hard to represent on paper by anything other than an equation – unless you picture one of those warped-space diagrams they always whip out to represent a Black Hole, as they did in The Simpsons once. But assholes (or ‘arseholes’, as we say down here) and Black Holes obviously have points of similarity, at first glance, except that they work in opposite directions. So, as much as I hate to reinforce a stereotype (‘anyone who likes science or science fiction must be a nerd’), an equation it is.”

Meaningless gibberish, you say? Just more academic gobbledygook meant to make those of us who failed remedial science in high school feel like schmucks? Au contraire! It’s actually quite simple when Sean explains it. “The term on the left – the Schwarzchild radius, or ‘arse’ – is defined by mass, the Gravitational Constant and the speed of light, thus demonstrating that the bigger I get, the more I’ll curve spacetime around me and therefore the slower I’ll go, while at the same time, the flatter my arsehole will become. Or something like that. You don’t really need to know this stuff to write science fiction, but it helps.”