Inverse Happy Hour

Charlie Jane Anders reads a sci-fi story that will give you hope

Anders joins Inverse Happy Hour to discuss Star Trek: Picard, how to save indie bookstores, and what sci-fi books to read next.


Charlie Jane Anders is the former editor-in-chief of io9, a Lambda Literary Award winner, and the author of several other books and short stories, such as her latest novel, The City in the Middle of the Night, a 2020 Hugo Award finalist for Best Novel. She joins Inverse Happy Hour to read from a selected short story called Because Change Was the Ocean and We Lived by Her Mercy featured in the Drowned Worlds anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan and available to read online at Lightspeed Magazine.

“It’s about surviving and rebuilding after a catastrophe so I feel like it’s a really appropriate story,” Anders tells Inverse.

In a Q&A after the reading, Anders shared a few other reading recommendations, made some predictions about Star Trek: Picard Season 2 (bring back Beverly Crusher), and revealed how she's staying sane during quarantine:

"Take dance breaks pretty often," she says. "It's a major part of my coping strategy.”

Anders is also keeping busy through a fundraiser she helped organize called We Love Bookstores.

We Love Bookstores is a series of livestream events featuring readings and conversations with various authors to raise money in support of local San Francisco Bay area independent bookstores. While the fundraiser is targeted at helping the San Francisco area, Anders strongly encourages people to organize something similar in their cities to save these "incredibly important" and "irreplaceable" indie bookstores. You can find out more information about the cause, in addition to the schedule of upcoming events, at

Below are some highlights from Inverse Happy Hour:

On the process of world-building— “It’s a lot of stumbling around in the dark. It’s a lot of just trying to figure out how things actually work and, like, what kind of stuff people have. Like in this passage I just read, there was some slang and some weird clothes and stuff, but there was also just, like, little touches about how people are surviving in the wake of the great decimation.”

“Science fiction is the storytelling that helps us to cope with the future.”

“I try to think about what’s going to serve the story and what’s going to make sense for the characters and the story I’m trying to put together. So that’s the most important thing for me. But it’s also just about trying to kind of take a step back and think about the big picture of what a realistic world would be like.”

“Also, I grew up reading stuff like Philip K. Dick, and Rudy Rucker has a lot of great stuff where he’ll just throw in lots of weird ideas and throw weird terms and weird slang and you just have to keep up with it. I love that kind of stuff in science fiction, where you just have to keep up and they’re throwing balls at you and you just have to catch them all, and I feel like that can be really fun.”

On how science fiction can help us at a time like this— “Science fiction is the storytelling that helps us to cope with the future.”

“Anything that helps us to imagine the future and see ourselves living in the future is really key to survival and key to getting through tough times. Anything that strengthens our imagination is really good.”

A huge thanks to Anders for joining us!

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