I'm a genre writer - I chose to be one, I ended up one, I still am one, and I'm not writing transgressive, genre-blurring fiction. I write 'core SF' - it may occasionally incorporate horror or noir tropes, but it's not pretending to be anything other than what it is.

I had - and continued to have - great fun exploring the Revelation Space universe, but it was always clear to me that I wanted to write other kinds of books, even within what might be termed the fairly narrow overlapping genre categories of hard SF and space opera.

For me, the distant future and far-off galaxies is where it's at. That's where my imagination can really come out to play.

There is so little SF drawn from modern scientific thinking, in any discipline, that I'm much more cheered by the successes than the failures, most of which are forgivable.

Above all else, 'Doctor Who' still seems to me to offer near-infinite scope for the writer. It must be the least constraining of televisual properties.

I couldn't think of anything more pointless than reading a piece of fiction written by a robot.

I watched 'Who' with a mixture of affection and exasperation through the eighties, always ready to cheer on the Doctor but seldom feeling that the series was playing to its strengths. Some of the adventures, revisited on DVD, turn out to be better than I remembered - others just as infuriating.

I'm just happy to have some American readers - enough that it's a viable proposition for my books to appear there.

I'm not a morning person: I can't function until I've had a coffee - or several.

Science fiction writers aren't short of ideas. You can read a book, and it sets off a chain of thought processes, so it becomes a response to other people's books.

I hope that 'House of Suns' functions as an independent novel.

A lot of science fiction is very accessible and very readable, but a lot of people are justifiably put off by the covers of spaceships - though that never put me off.

I was really impressed by '2312.'

There are similarities between historical novels and science fiction. Being thrown into the Napoleonic Wars is just as much of a different world as space.

My mother was a part of a reading group, but they would never come near science fiction because they think it's not for them.

In the 'Revelation Space' books, the spaceships are a bit old and rusty, and things go wrong, and they don't work quite how they're meant to. And people asked why I did it this way, and groping around for an explanation, I said that I grew up in Barry, this post-industrial sea town full of rusting infrastructure.

When I'm working on one book, part of my imagination is thinking ahead to the next one.

I've never had much interest in spinoffery - the idea of writing in someone else's universe generally leaves me cold - but 'Doctor Who' is different. I've grown up with it. It's been part of my life since I was tiny, watching Jon Pertwee on a grainy black and white television in Cornwall and being terrified out of my mind.

You can't underestimate the importance of cover art.

One of the big breakthroughs I had as a writer was when I stopped agonising over every word.

Dreams of warp drives and hyperspace are just that - dreams.

You have to be able to invest in your own creations, to suspend your own disbelief in order to be able to write them. We all have to draw the line somewhere.

I just start writing, and in the process, one hopefully comes up with ideas and solutions and explores all the little nooks and crannies.

I despair of reality television, but I've never met anyone who watches it. Or people say, 'I watch it, but I hate it.' I've never met anyone who loves it. It's like, it's there, and we have to accept it.

To be remembered at all is an achievement of sorts.

I would much rather we concentrated on the immediate, still-potent dangers, such as nuclear weapons, runaway climate change, and so on. Sort those out, then worry about Hal 9000.

I've always loved far future SF, so it was more or less a given that I would one day want to write in that form.

When I was a kid, I was reliably informed that we'd have gone to Mars by 1985, and of course it's 2012, and we're still really no closer to a human expedition to Mars, but that shouldn't detract from the amazing achievements that are being done on a day-to-day basis by robotic envoys.

I was never strong at maths, but I eventually got onto a university physics/astronomy course, and that led on to my Ph.D. and eventual employment.

What works for me is simply to read a lot of stuff throughout the year - not with a particular story or theme in mind, but just because you never know what might be useful or interesting in the long run. I much prefer to just absorb a lot of stuff and let the old unconscious chew down on it over time.

I prioritise story over science, but not at the expense of being really stupid about it.

I've been enthralled by deep vistas of space and time ever since watching George Pal's film of 'The Time Machine,' while an early encounter with Arthur C. Clarke's 'The City And The Stars' cemented my love for books with a scope spanning millions of years.

One of the dangers of science fiction, particularly bad science fiction, is that you have these scenes where the characters turn to a blackboard and start explaining how this faster-than-light drive works, or something like that. We never really have those conversations in real life. That's not part of the way we interact as human beings.

The idea of a computer winning the Nobel Prize for physics is not too unlikely, citing a computer as joint recipient. It's obviously not a huge leap to think of something similar happening in fiction.

I think the danger with using the term 'trilogy' is that it sets up particular expectations in the reader's mind.

I'm still bothered by the threat of nuclear war.

I don't think the computer will win the Booker, but no-one ever expected a computer to beat a chess grandmaster.

I couldn't ever write a straight crime novel: there'd be an intrusion of weirdness at some point.

I always like Iain Banks science fiction stuff and William Gibson's cyberpunk stuff from the 1980s.

The first time I read a crime novel - I think it may have been an Elmore Leonard book - it took some time for me to realise how the genre worked. There were about 20 characters on the first page, and I wasn't used to this. I started to enjoy it when I saw that was how crime books worked.

No idea should be discarded completely, but - as one might imagine - it does take a degree of ingenuity to find a new spin on something as hackneyed as the 'Adam and Eve' story. But if you think you've got the chops for it, there's no reason not to try.

I've always been attracted to Pertwee's portrayal of the Doctor as dashing man-of-science, charming, sceptical, and rational.

We've had science fiction novels where China is dominant; we've had novels where India is dominant, and I suppose it's all about getting away from that cliched old tired idea that the future belongs to the West.

Like everyone else, I read newspapers and 'New Scientist' and try to put my finger on the trends which we can just see emerging now that are accelerating and might take off.

I'm a wishy-washy 'Guardian' reader, but the last thing I want to do is force a political agenda down people's throats. It's not central to my work, unlike, say, China Mieville, who's very politicised.

I'm always a little bit cautious around invented terminology because so much science fiction is off-putting to the uninitiated. You open up the first page, and it's full of all these made-up words.

From apparently superluminal radio sources in deep space, to the neutrinos that were supposed to be arriving ahead of schedule at the Grand Sasso experiment in Italy, every apparent exception to Einstein's ultimate speed law has turned out to be a phantom.

I think I set myself on a course to become a scientist around about the time that Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' series was on television, and there really was no going back for me at that point, and then I went on to study space science and then get my Ph.D., then go aboard and work in the European Space Agency.

Sitting here at the beginning of the 21st century, we're only 200 years into the industrial revolution. We don't have an enormous dataset to draw on, so whatever shaped curve we're on, we're only at the beginning of it.