Today I have the pleasure of interviewing a fellow author discovered by my publisher, 48fourteen.com. I just finished reading her Sci-Fi epic, Other Systems, a review of which I posted on Goodreads.com.
Welcome, Beth. As you know, I’m more of a Wi-Fi than a Sci-Fi kind of girl, but I did get hooked into Abby’s character pretty early on, not to mention the amazing illustrations. Did you create them?
Yep, and thanks for the compliment. I’m really proud of them. The original cover was just text. It was a happy accident that Juanita (the publisher) saw some artwork that I did for the Other Systems website and a poster I made for the conventions. and wanted to include them in the book. So, I did a few others, which we used for the act breaks, and then I did the new cover.
Some of the scientific facts in the book went right over my head. How long did it take to research everything?
Three months. I saw this really neat documentary about colonizing Mars that said because of gene therapy, within a few generations, people born on Mars would not consider themselves Earthlings. They might not even be able to live on Earth. The same concept is in the novel Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I knew I wanted time dialation to play a pivotal role. As for the rest of it, I liked playing species/ship/tech designer–something I also do in my comics.
The promise of peace, abundance, and non-violence that leads Abby and her siblings to the spaceship turns dark pretty quickly. Talk about that decision.
While the fleet of transport ships did not set out to take slaves, Abby’s journey from Earth to Kipos took just under a century. By the time they got there, the leading generation had grown up thinking Homo sapiens might destroy their culture if they were not controlled. We can look into our own history at what happens when we do not look at other people as human beings, and instead see them as the “other” or “savages.”
Ohhh, I didn’t quite get that. Thanks for clearing it up. Still, some might accuse you of being too dark in some of the scenes that follow.
When writing the basic outline for Other Systems, I started with grandiose ideas and then realized a huge story about a changing society was just not very interesting to write. As I tightened my ideas, I chose to follow two families while focusing on a single young woman’s journey as she is considered a “savage.” I also tried to point out that there were other “others” on Kipos long before the Earth missions with the strict reproduction laws which sterilized the Alekos family and forced many to flee into exile.
Something that struck me about Other Systems was its lack of any real heroes and the large importance you placed on following one’s passion above all else. Did you do that intentionally?
I don’t know if I did it intentionally, but I do believe it. Of course, it’s a very American or at least First World ideal, to follow your passion above all, but I do think independence and personal freedom would be something that private space explorers would hold dear.
As for the lack of heroes, I love the flawed character. Like many science fiction fans of my generation, I grew up on Star Wars. Who is more beloved between Luke Skywalker and Han Solo? Everyone I knew wanted to be Han Solo (and yeah he shot first!) Some of my other favorite characters include Malcolm Reynolds and the entire crew of Firefly, Q (StarTrek TNG, DS9 & Voyager) Starbuck from both the original and the remakes of Battlestar Galactica. I just find these people more interesting then their ideal heroic counterparts.
That being said, while Cole, Harden, and the others are not heroes, they do have a moral code. They try to live by it. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don’t.
Abby’s relationship with Rover, the bot, was endearing and your thoughts on sentience seemed to draw a line in the sand about what constitutes humanity. Talk about that.
Because I am an American of my generation: I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all humans regardless of color or gender. I also believe in religious freedom and freedom of speech. Even if my intention is not to influence, some of that does naturally come though in my writing.
As we evolve or travel to other planets, we may need to expand the definition of “human” or “person” to include some animal or alien species and artificial intelligence. I believe that if it has sentience it should have the same rights as everyone else. Of course, it is easy for me to say that right now when Earth has only one known sentient species. When our robot overlords start taking over, I might change my tune.
Well, thanks for visiting my blog, Beth, and good luck with the release of Other Systems!
All you Sci-Fi fans out there, CLICK HERE to read the first few chapters of Other Systems for free! Or just buy it. For only $4.99, you’ll get over 500 pages of other-worldly stuff. It’s a bargain at a penny a page!