Solaris—both the 1972 Tartovsky and the 2002 Soderberg films—are favorite films of mine. They are wonderful psychological dramas that explore the nature of guilt, grief and the value of second chances, in a way that no other film can. But Stanislaw Lem, the author of the book, has said that both films disappointed him, because they didn’t explore the real point of the story: Communication with truly alien life.
Robotics has always had a very real dichotomy, a chasm separating the vision and the reality. Where imagination has given us human-like robots like Parody, the Terminator, Data and Gigolo Joe… reality has given us auto factory welding machines.
Yet, as technology surges inexorably forward, and companies have taken to animatronicizing mannequins for tech and auto shows, the supposed likelihood of achieving robots that can substitute for humans remains just around that imaginary corner.
If we do turn that corner… will we find a red light district there?
I always develop most of a novel’s setting before I start writing it, and allow the writing process to flesh out a few cool details along the way. As I’m currently hip-deep in my next novel, currently known by the project name of Sarcology, I’ve written most of those fine details, and find myself working in an environment that I can picture in my mind as if I’ve actually just returned from visiting there. So I thought I would spell out a few details, to prepare you for the world of my upcoming novel.
Please enjoy an excerpt from Chasing the Light, a novel of the near future.
Chasing the Light is a “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy returns to find girl and make his fortune” story, set in the United States of a very realistic near-tomorrow. The young lovers, Tom Everson and Doña Navarra, are forced apart due to circumstances beyond their control, and Tom risks everything to be reunited with Doña.
In fact, the story could be said to begin any day now, as it is kicked off by violent events caused by the energy crisis and the oil industry’s contentious activities to dominate the energy landscape.
When I was a boy, I would often pick up novels wherein I didn’t actually read characters’ swear words; instead, I read the author’s account of the characters’ swearing, to wit: “He swore,” “he gave his opinion in language not fit for polite society,” “her language, as crude as any sailor’s, caused her companions to blush furiously,” etc. And I was introduced to the familiar scene known as “kiss kiss, cut to morning,” in which something significant happened in-between, but was apparently not appropriate enough for me to be privy to.
A recent customer asked me to list the significant science and engineering elements that have been featured in my novels. The idea was that the list would give an idea about the kind of science I was interested in, and the general slant of my books. This is not to suggest I “invented” all of these ideas myself; but some of them are unique and created by me, or independently of its use in other books.
Once I finished the list, I thought it was a pretty good list to share… so, here goes:
Despite Our Shadows is a re-release of an earlier title of mine, Lambs Hide, Tigers Seek. This is also the only non-science fiction title in my catalog; a number of fans had suggested that I try my hand at a non-science fiction mystery, and this was my response to the challenge. It turned out to be less a mystery and more of a noir tale of investigator Alain Guest (that’s Uh-lane, not Ee-lane) and his efforts to shake free of his past, as he pursued a girl who may have been destroyed by her past… and I think it was a better story for that.
The story is the same: In 2007, heiress Ellen Levinson vanished from a downtown Washington hotel under mysterious circumstances. Four years later, a series of blackmail letters leads investigator Alain Guest to Nashville, in search of the missing heiress. But things go wrong quickly, getting Alain tangled up with a local Goth girl who forces him to deal with his own damaged past. As the investigation threatens to crumble, Alain’s mental state just may go down with it…