With the recent release of his novel We Can Be Heroes, author Scott Fitzgerald Gray is blog touring this month and next, and my little ole spot is fortunate enough to feature Scott today.
The problem is, I’m still not sure if I have what it takes to be one of those writers.
We Can Be Heroes is the first science-fiction novel I’ve published, and the second SF novel I’ve written. It’s a book that focuses in a big way on certain aspects of technology, and as such, one of the bigger challenges of writing the book was wanting the tech to look and feel “real” to some degree. But at the same time, I recognize that there’s a big difference between someone who maintains my kind of comfortable geek-amateur status and a person driven to use the pulpit of fiction to Make Grand Statements about technology. And that bothered me for a long while, to the extent that I actually got bogged down in an early draft of the story because I didn’t feel like I was properly coming to terms with the technology underlying the story. In trying to rise to the level of the masters who have inspired me, I fell flat pretty fast, and it made me wonder whether I was really the person to be writing this book in the first place. But then I came to an important realization.
The one thing that all my own favorite writers of science fiction and speculative fiction do is to look not only at the narrative possibilities inherent in technology, but at the interface line where technology impacts on and resonates in the human world. Technology changes things, but its changes are measured in the barometer of human reaction. Decades after having last read them, I’d have to struggle to give you any accurate technical details of Niven’s Ringworld or the asteroid/ship that’s the centerpiece of Greg Bear’s Eon. But I remember Louis Wu and Teela Brown, Mirsky and Patricia Vasquez like I might have actually met them all those years ago. And that realization led me to understand that in originally focusing on the technical side of We Can Be Heroes, I was actually telling the less interesting side of that story — for me, at least.
Even though We Can Be Heroes isn’t a technological tour-de-force by any stretch, the book has a number of different layers of technology wrapped up in it. Most of these layers are less about speculation for the future and more just extensions of what’s already going on around us — things like the machinations of observation and eavesdropping; how that observation lends itself to the control of those being observed, and the risks involved in creating expert systems that get a little too expert for their own good. (There are also a lot of high-tech firefights and high-speed chases and things exploding, but those figure less in the philosophical underpinnings of the book.) And in the end, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to write a book that embraces the big issues of technology as well as the high-tech SF writers whose works have inspired me. But I can ask the same questions they ask, and I can answer those questions in my own imperfect way, and I can show how those questions and answers are written in the record of the characters at the center of the story. And in the end, I’m okay with that, because for me as a reader, the questions and the characters are what really count.
For more on author Scott Fitzgerald Gray
Insane Angel website
Insane Angel blog
Scott's Smashwords page
Scott at Amazon