In my opinion, we’re living in a period that future generations will refer to as a “digital golden age” or a “digital renaissance”. The speed at which we are advancing technologically is astounding when you sit back and think about it – when I was a kid in the 80s things such as the internet, smart phones and digital music were non-existent (instead we had encyclopedias, phone booths and tapes), and while they all may have been conceived of at that time, they were not even heard of by regular people.
Yet here we are, a few decades down the track and these things are not just a reality, they’re so embedded in our everyday lives that we barely give them a second thought – indeed, we take them for granted. I’m still fairly young (36 is still young, right?), and the advancements in my lifetime have been immense. Think about it, if a contemporary novel set in 2016 was sent back in time to say, the 1950s, it’d be considered science fiction. Indeed, much of the technology dreamed up by 1950s and 60s science fiction writers have already come to fruition – think about Star Trek’s tricorders and PADDs – dreamed up as a technology of a world centuries down the track, we already have these devices in the form of tablets and smart phones. Not only that, but these real world devices are smaller, more powerful and more capable than their fictional counterparts.
The same could be said for literally hundreds of fictional technologies dreamed up within science fiction, regardless of the medium be it literary or TV/Film.
The 2013 film Gravity was marketed and categorised as “science fiction” (still is, in fact). At first glance, I suppose you could be mistaken for thinking that too. After all, it’s a film set in space, on a space station involving a protagonist’s battle for survival – sounds like SF, right? But here’s the thing; the technology and settings that Gravity portrayed were not speculative in any way – we’re talking about the space shuttle (indeed, an already retired piece of technology), the International Space Station, the Chinese Tiangong Station and Soyuz space craft – all real things and real places. The accepted definition of “science fiction” is “speculative, fictional science-based depictions of phenomena that are not full accepted by mainstream science”. So by that definition, Gravity is in no way “science fiction”.
I mentioned in my first blog post that one of my literary influences was Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, a series that in its day was referred to as “future history”. There’s so many story elements of this incredible trilogy of books that I can see the beginnings of in the current day. From the rise of the mega-corporation, the environmental situation on Earth, the political situation on Earth and the speed at which we’re working at getting humans to Mars. Indeed, people like Elon Musk and his ambitious SpaceX plans are vaguely reminiscent of the Green Mars character William Fort and his company Praxis. Now there is obviously a lot of the Mars Trilogy that is firmly rooted in science fiction, but it’s these little bits and pieces of similarity to the real world that in my opinion justify that tag “future history”.
It’ll be interesting as time goes on to see just how many science fiction tropes become reality, and also how long this “digital golden age” will continue. It’s exciting to say the least, but let’s just hope that the future turns out more like Star Trek than The Terminator, hey?
Well, now that the website is up and running, the first novel is published and available for sale and I have a rapidly growing social media following, I figured it was time to get this blog off the ground so you can get to know me and what drives me a bit more. What better subject to kick this blog off with than the inspirations behind my writing?
One of my key literary inspirations is highly regarded British SF author Alastair Reynolds, and while I’ll be talking about his influences on my work in a bit, I also actually gained the inspiration to write this very blog piece because of him. You see, Mr. Reynolds has always been very open about the influences in his writing – he never shied away from being up-front and honest about story elements of his works that drew inspiration from others. That’s something I particularly like about Mr. Reynolds as an author, so I thought I’d like to be equally up front and honest.
In regards to passion for SF, I was somewhat of a late-bloomer, and didn’t really start getting into it (in any form – TV, Film or literature) until my late teens/early 20s. Of course I’d been a big Star Wars fan throughout my childhood, but let’s face it – Star Wars is fantasy with a technological spin to it, not true SF.
To that end, the first real piece of Science Fiction that I was introduced to was Star Trek, specifically the 1998 film First Contact. I loved the film, and it really was the genesis of what became an obsession. I would sink my teeth into anything that was vaguely Science Fiction – TV shows like Star Trek (Deep Space Nine was my favourite because of its storytelling and strong characterisations), Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica, books by authors such as Reynolds, Peter F. Hamilton and Kim Stanley Robinson even videos games such as Freelancer, Wing Commander and the like. If it was SF, then I was into it.
In regards to SF literature, the before mentioned authors were the three that truly inspired me to become an author. Reynolds’ Revelation Space was one of the first SF novels that I ever read, and it was one that set my imagination on fire. I found the continuation of the Revelation Space universe in his novels Chasm City, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap equally enthralling – it was such a richly imagined universe that left just enough unanswered questions and mysteries to ignite the reader’s imagination.
My next biggest literary influence would have to be Kim Stanley Robinson’s iconic Mars Trilogy. Richly imagined, beautifully written and absolutely inspirational, I can still picture events like the space elevator coming down or the first steps of Maya and Nadia on the red planet after the first 100’s touchdown. I’ve heard the Mars Trilogy referred to as “future history” before, and now with people like Elon Musk and SpaceX planning manned Mars missions, that description is proving apt.
Finally, Peter F. Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn Trilogy blew me away in numerous ways. First, the fact that he could make such long novels so consistently action packed and absorbing boggled my mind. I’d guess that there’s somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million words in the night’s dawn trilogy. Truth be told, the imposing size of them actually stopped me from reading them for quite some time – but I’m so glad I took the plunge, because they are without a doubt a page-turning thrill ride. The second thing that blew me away about The Night’s Dawn Trilogy was the blending of genres. The supernatural/horror/SF amalgamation worked incredibly well. There’s a film called From Dusk Till Dawn that, if you’re not familiar with it, starts out as a criminal on the run action/drama and then takes an incredible turn hallway through to become something entirely different (I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen the film), but the twist in The Reality Dysfunction reminded me of that film.
All in all, I reckon when you read Killer of Stars, you’ll be able to pick up on the (hopefully subtle) influences of all the works I’ve mentioned above.