Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks?
Toby Frost: I think it’s because they seem so deadly, and so unsympathetic. They’re perfectly made to kill things, and they’re completely unlovable. Even rats have nicer eyes. A shark is like a biological missile: they don’t even stop moving around to sleep. There’s a line in Alien about the Alien being unclouded by conscience, remorse or delusions of morality – that, to most people, is what a shark is like. They’re perfect villains. Of course, they’re also rather impressive animals, but that’s not the point, at least here...
SP: What was the inspiration behind your story Deep Black Space?
TF: I’d mentioned the void sharks in the first novel of mine that was published, Space Captain Smith, but I felt that I hadn’t quite done them justice. But I needed something beyond them just randomly attacking. It seemed “logical” that someone sufficiently crazy would have been breeding them or trying to domesticate them, with predictable consequences. That sort of thing seems to happen a lot in space.
SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story?
TF: It’s surprisingly difficult to make shark-related puns – at least, new ones.
SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be?
TF: It’s got to be the Great White shark, hasn’t it? They’re the classic shark, but with all the dials turned up to 11. That said, the basking shark is pretty impressive. It’s rare for an animal to be awe-inspiring whilst drifting through life with its mouth wide open.
SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)?
TF: Well, Jaws is the Citizen Kane of angry shark films. But it’s hard not to like the Pathetic Sharks from Viz, and I’ve got a certain amount of time for the bizarre creature in Sharktopus. It must have been very confused, especially since it seemed to have both a mouth and a beak.
By day, Toby Frost lives the life of a mild-mannered law reporter. By night, he is the author of five comedy science fiction novels about the misadventures of Captain Isambard Smith of the British Space Empire, published by Myrmidon books. He has also written several short stories and the Warhammer 40,000 novel Straken for Black Library. He is currently working on a fantasy novel.