Q: Do you think there was a connection between the social revolution of the 1960s and science fiction and fantasy? Your fiction reflects knowledge of the drugs and party scene at the time - how involved did you get in all that?
Party scene? Sounds strange to me. Didn't do much of that. There were some clubs, but they were mainly full of record business wankers, so I left those for the uni-dropouts like Rosie Boycott who seemed more interested in meeting the stars than working for the revolution.
People of my generation were attracted to SF and rock 'n' roll because they had no standing with any kind of authority - they were well in the margins and so well out of sight. Which meant you could make them your own. Drugs, I suppose, were also a natural part of that from the 1950s onwards. They were simply part of the culture I grew up in. Drugs didn't just suddenly appear in 1965, as it sometimes seems from histories of the times... Ask Charlie Parker.
What happened to rock 'n' roll in Britain also happened to SF. We turned it into something that suited our own voices and concerns. Popular arts had never seemed so good.
Q: Music and SF seem to have changed in similar ways. Do we just look back at the 1960s and 1970s with rose-tinted spectacles, or were those really more exciting times?
We had no borders. We didn't know how far we could go with something until it snapped. We were willing to try new ideas and there was money around to back them. This was before the big companies started applying the lowest common denominator technique to everything, when they didn't know what sold, so they'd back a lot of different kinds of bands. These bands came up on a flood of rage, too - young men who were not being taken on their own terms, at the simplest level, but there was politics and stuff in there, too. Whatever band nowadays admires The Who, they can never capture what The Who had - and that's anger. Anger (frustration, disappointment) also drove the kind of SF that Wells, Huxley, Orwell, Pohl and Kornbluth wrote - anger at social injustice.
In the case of the blues this was exemplified in black musicians, in the case of folk music it was originally inspired by Fenian songs and the like and later what came to be called 'protest'. A few years ago a nice young man came up to me at a funeral. He said he enjoyed my books and it seemed to him the 1960s had been really glamorous. "But my dad says they weren't really like that, they were just the same as any other time."
"That means your dad wasn't there," I said.
Also: If you haven't read James Mal's epitaph for Ronnie James Dio, do so now. And if you're into it, perhaps consider the Facebook group "I Refuse to Admit Dio Died of Cancer, I Believe a Dragon Ate Him."