In this web series, we introduce some of the contributors to Parallel Worlds. This month it’s Chris Cunliffe.
Hey Chris. What’s your role with Parallel Worlds?
Hi everyone! I’m one of the writers: most notably for the GamesMasterClass series, but also some video game material and reviews.
What’s been your favourite piece of work you’ve done for the magazine?
“You Died!” was a lot of fun. I really like Dark Souls, and it was great to go back and describe those first few disastrous attempts, looking for the humour in them. I’ve also enjoyed working with other members of the team to discuss the MCU TV series.
What’s been the most challenging work you’ve done while with Parallel Worlds?
A few of the GameMasterClass articles have been tricky; I have to be careful not to say anything that might upset my players when I’m writing about things that have gone wrong in my own games! ‘Going Virtual’ was especially difficult – I’ve found the move to online playing quite frustrating, and so I found it hard to be positive about it, even though there are lots of positive aspects to it. Reviews can also be challenging in some circumstances.
“I much prefer a magic system with rules and limits, rather than one that can do anything, or that isn’t defined well.”
What’s your day job?
I don’t have one at the moment. I was made redundant a few months before the pandemic started. Since then I’ve been writing and looking after my son, so that lockdowns didn’t get too much in the way of my wife, who has had to work from home full-time.
So, as well as writing for Parallel Worlds, I’ve been working on a novel and practising my craft with shorter fiction. You can find my work at www.cunliffec.weebly.com.
What areas of the worlds of science fiction and fantasy do you enjoy the most?
In fantasy, I really enjoy exploring magic systems and how they work. I much prefer a magic system with rules and limits, rather than one that can do anything, or that isn’t defined well. For science fiction, I like to see worlds where whatever science they have come up with is, again, properly explored and the ramifications fully considered.
Mostly, though, I need my escapism to be optimistic. There has to be a sense that everything is going to turn out well in the end, even if it might be a long road to get there.
What books and films have most inspired you?
When I was a kid, I would watch The Princess Bride and Labyrinth endlessly, so they’ve definitely stuck in my mind for many years and I think they kick-started my love of genre fiction. More recently, I think the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been an amazing achievement in creating a shared world between so many different characters and movies.
In terms of books, Terry Brookes and Robert Jordan were the authors that first made me want to write and, more recently, I really enjoy Brandon Sanderson’s work. I’d like to particularly shout out his Stormlight Archives series, for its treatment of heroes with mental health difficulties — that’s been inspiring.
Is there anything special you’d like to cover for the magazine in future?
One day, it would be amazing to be being interviewed again — but because my book has been released!
In terms of topics I would cover myself: the editorial team are really good at allowing us to choose what we write about. I’ve enjoyed moving more into video games, so would appreciate the chance to do some reviews.
Thanks for your time!