Robert Repino, author of the breakout sci-fi novel Mort(e), has published a new novella.
Like his first novel, Leap High Yahoo is about animals and violence in an eerie future that bears a strong resemblance to a ravaged Philadelphia. Unlike his first novel, Leap High Yahoo also about humans, China, capitalism, the Occupy movement, and xenophobia. And the audiobook is narrated by none other than Bronson Pinchot.
We asked the author 5 questions.
1. What inspired you to write a sci-fi novella about a man chasing a horse through a damaged and abandoned city?
I’ve always been obsessed with the image of urban centers being abandoned and then overtaken by nature, and the idea of a man chasing an animal in this setting grew organically from that. It’s almost obscene to have a wild animal running around in parking lots and food courts. This novella was also inspired in part by the Occupy movement. I suppose the presence of the animal in the city represents the decay and breakdown associated with some of the terrible economic policies we’ve had in this country for the last few decades.
2. The “bad guy” in your novella is a Chinese corporation that’s taking over America. Do you ever think about how, if current events take a different turn, China might not be such a visible threat to American interests anymore, and that might change how we read your novella? Does it worry you to think that future political events could diverge from your imagined political future?
I have thought about that. But first, let me say that the corporation isn’t necessarily the “bad guy” here. The novella is not some xenophobic warning for America to wake up or anything like that. On the contrary, in the story, the United States collapses not because of some “invasion”, but because of incompetence and misplaced priorities. For better or worse, the members of the corporation look at themselves almost like Peace Corps Volunteers entering a decimated third world country. (Full disclosure: I was in the Peace Corps.) That implies both good intentions and a rather paternalistic attitude. The main character Cheung is convinced that the work he is doing will, in the long run, rescue this destitute place. I don’t really take a side. And—spoiler alert—Cheung does not arrive at some epiphany in which he realizes that the American way of doing things was the right way all along. The story is quite explicit in its rejection of easy answers.
I admit that it worries me a little that the story will be irrelevant in a few years, though I guess that would be a good thing. Really, the tendency to view China as some kind of 21st century Cold War rival is a bit overblown, especially since the economic ties between our two countries are almost irreversible at this point. Still, your question reminds me of a book from the 1980s called The Past Is Another Country, in which the Soviet Union takes over the United States. It’s almost quaint now—an otherwise enjoyable and original story banished to the realm of Y2K survival kits.
3. The amazing Bronson Pinchot narrates the audiobook of Leap High Yahoo, and we know you’re a fan of his. What are your 3 favorite Bronson Pinchot moments on screen?
Well, of course his performance as Serge in Beverly Hills Cop will always be the best. It’s a totally surprising moment of comic genius in a movie that already has Eddie Murphy in his prime. I have to fuse Serge with Balki from Perfect Strangers; my understanding is that Bronson’s role in the movie led directly to the sitcom.
He’s great in True Romance, but I would also include his brief role in the underrated (though a bit schmaltzy) Courage Under Fire. He plays a smarmy weasel guy who has the gall to try to boss around Denzel Washington. Always a wrong move.
4. You published this novella as a Kindle Single. What was that like, compared to publishing a book the old-fashioned way?
It was virtually the same experience. We had an editor who acquired the project and helped me to rework the main text. Then we had a production team that moved the manuscript through the copyediting and proofreading stages. We also had the usual cover selection. It all went smoothly, with the entire process taking only about four or five months.
5. Your first novel featured cats, dogs, pigs, raccoons, and other creatures. Now Leap High Yahoo features a horse. What new animals are you writing about in the forthcoming sequel to Mort(e)?
The sequel features a city of beavers, a cloud of bats, a giant amphibious spider, an orangutan who thinks she’s Lt. Uhura from Star Trek, and a race of fish people.