Chris Bergeron: Women in the Galaxy

Chris Bergeron offers Quebec literature a big pint of freshness thanks to his work that began in 2021 with the novel Valid and continues with Valiant, a novella set in the same dystopian universe. At the helm of a spacecraft whose mission is to collect data about Mars, astronaut Andrea Chang speaks to the command post on Earth. In a beautiful, finely told monologue, filled with both love and anger, tension and drama, she explains what happened to her co-pilot, both colleague, friend, lover and love. In this story, the attraction of Venus is strong, and the women aboard the ship named Valiant will be able to take full advantage of it. Because they are women.

In space, the language of love is not Italian, French or Spanish. In space, the language of love is mathematics », we read in Valiant. Your novel, set in space, skilfully plays with language, as shown in the passage below:

Then she quickly returned to her work: a long conversation with Valiant’s AI, a gentle chant of mathematical formulas, a waltz of 3D interfaces. On the screens at his workstation, I watched his very last course gradually being built. It was a drawing of great violence, the abscissa and ordinate of his death traced on a square spreadsheet. »

How to make science fiction, in case of Valiant, interesting in terms of form, language? How did you work in this direction in your work?
I am not sure that I have made a special effort on this point. I think it’s more the influence of the literary genres I grew up with that is felt. My literary culture is quite classical, I have a soft spot for high-sounding 19th century authors.e century, I like the bombastic, slightly grandiose style of Dumas and Hugo. At the same time, if there’s no robot, dragon, or spaceship in the book I’m reading, I get a little bored. So I do poetic, incredible, romantic, romantic SF. That said, I think science fiction is too often thought of as the poor relation of literature. There are very good writers, stylists in the literature of fantasy. Personally, I don’t differentiate between one genre and another. There are only good and bad books.

This story appears in the brand new “Draisine” collection at XYZ of short fiction that follows in the wake of a novel (and is detailed at a modest price of $6.95). In what way did you like the short form here, as creator, and in which Valiant it relates to Valid, your acclaimed novel published in 2021.
There is a real revival of the short form in the literature of the imagination. It is aValid - Chris Bergeron

format, which however does not originate from yesterday, let us remember Poe, Ray Bradbury or Philip K. Dick, who appreciated this kind of format. More recently, it’s women, queers, who are promoting short fiction in SF: Beckie Chambers, Martha Wells. I think it’s a format that promotes excitement, but also rigor. No choice, you have to go to the essentials. That’s why I prefer Valiant on Valid, although I still love my first child. In writing valiant, I learned that you don’t have to say everything, to empty your whole bag. It gives me confidence for my next novel, which will bring together the main characters of the two titles. With Valid and Valiant, I’ve laid the foundation for an expanded universe that I won’t leave in an instant, let’s call it the Validevers! I really like the way authors like Carlos Ruiz Zafon or, in a completely different register, Brandon Sanderson, create constellations of more or less connected books set in the same reality.

Valiant takes place entirely aboard the Valiant, the shuttle bound for Venus. It sometimes denotes technical information – far from high-sounding when said – about matters of astronomy and space engineering. Have you been passionate about all this for a long time, or do you put your curiosity at the service of the love story you share with us?
So first of all I have to admit that I stink at math. I must have been wrong in my descriptions of orbital mechanics. That being said, I did some research. I have read a few astronomy books and recent articles on the composition of the atmosphere of Venus. I’ve actually always been fascinated by space, rockets, shuttles, spaceships. I grew up reading Yoko Tsuno, with Star Trek and Star Wars and space shuttle launches on TV. I have a childlike interest in space engineering. I myself have a huge lego rocket in my living room. But as a novelist I always prefer emotion to mechanics. i want to do Kundera in the room.

i want to do Kundera in the room.

There is an element of humor in it valiant, despite the drama experienced by the protagonist – her mission colleague and lover can no longer continue the mission. Humor is a strange little beast that must be used sparingly and with great skill to maintain readership. You win this bet. Is it natural or is it a writing effort for you?
For me, humor is both a crutch in my daily life and an ally in writing. Humor helps set the pace of the story, to lower the tension and then raise it a notch. Above all, it helps to humanize the characters. To give them their own sense of humor is to give them a personality. Regarding the crutch: In my everyday life, I use laughter a lot to alleviate difficult, stressful situations. I gain acceptance by being funny. This is often the case for many trans people. Mocking is a reflex of self-defense.

You are a vice president at Cossette, a recognized marketing and communications agency in Quebec. How do you manage to let go of the product marketing aspect of your literary works? Are you involved in this component?
The answer is simple: I won’t let go. I am very interested in promotion, design, brand “Valid”. I believe that a work coupled with a brand has more potential than a work based only on the simple literary expression. Thinking of your work as a brand means opening it up to all possibilities. Labeled “Valid”, I intend to use it in several areas: literature, cinema, comics, why not, one day, video games. The word “brand” with me is not shameful. A brand can represent a style, a movement, a statement or an aesthetic, values, a credo…

As a trans woman, you “frequently intervene in the advertising industry to demand better representation of minorities”, we read. about you. If we find this theme in Valid, this is more or less the case in Valiant. Having said that, what do you think about the place of minorities in Quebec’s literary environment?
I feel like progress is being made. I think ten or fifteen years ago no one would have wanted to publish me. It is no accident that so many people from various minorities are in the center these days. It is the result of a long process, a lot of effort on their part and a lot of awareness-raising work behind the scenes. Society is moving in the right direction, no offense to those who distrust diversity. A new generation of publishers is taking over and opening the door to more diversity. I think it’s fantastic. In any case, I like to share the booksellers’ and media’s attention with women like Caroline Dawson, Gabrielle Boulianne-Tremblay and Natasha Kanapé Fontaine. Now I would like to see more diversity at the head of the publishers. Power is still too concentrated in the hands of people who look a lot like each other.

Photo by Chris Bergeron: © Gaëlle Leroyer

also read
Monique Proulx: Writing to Connect
Dominic Bellavance: The gray areas
Vanessa Bell: Let the commotion come to us
Listen to Nadine Robert’s little voice
René Bolduc: Time passes, on purpose
Marie-Pierre Duval: Getting back to yourself
Hélène Dorion: A muse named Yourcenar

Leave a Comment