GENRE: Science Fiction
Almost a century after Keres Triplets asteroid impact and subsequent nuclear exchange almost ended all human life on Earth, a strange artifact is discovered on one of the moons of Saturn. Who should be sent to the outer reaches of the solar system to initiate the first contact with an alien culture? Dr. Varsaad Volhard, an evolutionary-socio-historian, is chosen to help the world understand the alien civilization that left an artifact some thirty thousand years ago, before humans even learned to farm, at the time when other human species still walked the earth. While Vars prepares for the mission, her father, Dr. Matteo Volhard, discovers nanobots among the microplastics he studies. The bots are everywhere and seem to have been created to bond with human cyber implants. Why? Matteo is made to keep his discovery a secret...as well as his and his daughter's true origins. Both were donated to a Human DNA Vault as babies. Matteo was raised as a Seed before leaving with his young daughter to study ecology around the world. Who knows what? Who is in control? How does one communicate with non-human intelligence? People seem to die in gruesome ways as their cyberhumatics go haywire on Earth and on Luna and Mars colonies. Is Earth under attack or is it all just a cosmic misunderstanding? Vars needs to use all she knows to solve the mystery of the ancient civilization on Mimas, as her dad battles the alien nanobots at home.
I first thought I was going to be a children’s book illustrator when I grew up. Then I was “taught” a thing or two. I freaked out and double majored in math and astrophysics, working at NASA while still in college. I decided that I wanted to be an astronaut. But I was a girl, and soon after graduation I was runover by a car and now have to use a cane to walk. I don’t think these should have been showstoppers (being a woman certainly was). I still wanted to go into space… But then I get to do that by writing about it. I go fartherin my books than I can in any of the latest rockets. So I’m living my dream, right?
I wrote my first full-sized fiction book in 2009, “Suddenly, Paris,” with my partner and husband, Christopher. (We survived the project and even wrote a few more books together! That’s the power of love.)
I wanted to write about a strong, smart girl who was up to the task of saving the world by herself, if necessary. In some ways, it was a rebellion to “Twilight.” As a teacher, I saw lots of middle school girls reading that book. When asked, they tended to reply that what attracted them the most to “Twilight” was the idea of someone loving a girl like that and providing for her and protecting her. From the psychological standpoint, the relationship described in “Twilight” is not a healthy one. No girl/woman should feel like she is going to die if her current romance doesn’t work out. I wanted to write a character that showed another example. In “Suddenly, Paris,” the heroine was very much in love, but she was willing to fight and to save the world. She was willing to do what’s right. She didn’t sulk…well, not much.
“Suddenly, Paris” went on to win a few awards, including being placed on the Long List for The James Tipree Jr. Award in 2016. You can read the first few chapters of here: https://interfaces.com/blog/suddenly-paris/
So that was my first book. Since then, I’ve focused on developing strong characters, interesting plots, and ideas that are heavily influenced by real science and current events. I’ve even written a sequel to “Suddenly, Paris”: “Coding Peter.” Humans learn best when information is wrapped in a compelling story. I also wanted to write about people that are not the usual heroes of books—homeless kids, misfits, grandmothers, mobility-impaired, autistic, the underclass of our society, the forgotten. Fiction is great at developing empathy. I wanted to turn the full power of fiction into empathy engine! Sounds a bit preachy, I know, but I think my stories are good and fun to read in addition to being meaningful.
I read. I read voraciously and in many different genres. I read scientific articles. I read academic papers (I also write those). But I write in the genres of science fiction and magical realism. I believe a story needs characters that are believable and to whom people can relate. I find that the books I like least have one thing in common—characters that are not sympathetic. If a reader doesn’t like the main character(s), how are they going to enjoy the book?
When we read, we place ourselves into the fictional world of the book. We try on for size the problems and joys the characters experience in the story. If there is no one in a book worth caring about, then the story is ultimately a failure, in my opinion. That’s true for movies and TV shows, too. People like to read about people they admire or empathize with. Take that away, and what’s left are some flat caricatures of people, explosions, and perhaps some interesting locations. That’s not enough to hold the reader’s interest.
So which authors do I like to read? Well, that very mush depends on whom I reading now. In general, I like Orson Scott Card for his amazing ability to plot and construct a compelling story. I love Brandon Sanderson because he always gives a good story and he is very generous with his advice as an author. I love Brent Weeks because he is great at magic systems. Patrick Rothfuss for his “The Slow Regard of Silent Things.” Scott Lynch for the “Gentleman Bastards” series. Claire North for her imagination! Octavia Butler for fierceness and clarity of vision. There are so many amazing authors out there, not all of them write fiction or science fiction.
Authors are lucky to devote their lives to creating fictional universes and amazing characters to populate them. There is a breathtaking freedom to play and explore imagination. It feels like if you are a writer, you will never grow old. You get to live forever, because some parts of you stay behind in the minds others…strangers you’ve never met! But writers today have to do more than just write.
A modern writer has to do so much more to envision new worlds and conjure up new civilizations populated with all sorts of interesting people that we all care about. She has to promote and market her books. She has to talk about herself and hopefully inspire readers to pick up her book next. She has to be on social media and post and tweet and talk, talk, talk, talk… For a shy individual, this is a very hard thing to do. I try…
I’m currently finishing up “God of Small Affairs.” In some ways, this is the opposite story from “Harvest.” While “Harvest” focused on real science and extrapolated it as far as possible, “God of Small Affairs” is about mythology, about gods who walk the earth and help shape the human race into what it has become. It is a more intimate story. It focuses on a small town in Wisconsin and it’s aging population that is in the process of becoming irrelevant due the pressures of progress. During a murder investigation, a god tries to find the best path into the future for this community. It’s a human drama with a mythical twist.
You can read the first few chapters of “God of Small Affairs” here:https://interfaces.com/blog/my-books/god-of-small-affairs/
I hope to release “God of Small Affairs” in a few months.
“The exton controls are not responding!” Marc shouted into his exoskeleton spacesuit helmet.
His exoskeleton was the heavy-duty dirt-and-boulder-mover type. Move a ton with exton. Right now, Marc was really just an intelligent bulldozer with life support. But the suit had disconnected from his D-tats, the personal computing device tattoos embedded in his lower arms and jaw, and his directional controls were busted. Now his exoskeleton acted with a mind of its own, moving him away from the construction site and out into the open Martian landscape. He needed to get back to the Malfy–an affectionate acronym for Martians Live Free, a city-sized habitat being built for the next wave of planetary immigrants.
“Marc?” his SB responded from the inside Malfy’s operational center. “What’s on the fritz this time?” Every contractor working outside was in constant communication with a personally assigned safety buddy. “I can’t seem to toss the controls over to my side.” In an emergency, Marc’s SB could take over the controls of his exton and bring him in, even if he was unconscious.
“I’ve got nothing!” Marc was more irritated than scared. This was his second equipment failure in as many months, and their group of union builders had reported three more to the management since the start of the project about two hundred days ago. It was always the same MO: at the end of a shift, the movement controls failed to respond to their operators’ commands, taking the builders out into the desert; and yet, after the rescue when the equipment was checked out, the engineers found nothing wrong with the extons. The first time it happened to Marc, he was even accused of faking the failure to get extra time off for hazardous conditions. As if construction work on Mars wasn’t dangerous in and of itself. Fortunately, Marc’s supervisor made everyone carry extra oxygen and a spare battery pack after the first few incidents. Just in case. Inconvenient for sure, but it was better than being stuck out of breath without a heater among the Martian dunes in minus 125 degrees Celsius.
“Send someone out to get me,” Marc said. “It’s an official request.”
“Are you sure, Marc? You know if they don’t find anything again—”
“I’m telling you, I’ve got nothing. Everything is dead on my side.”
“Yeah, mine too,” Marc’s SB agreed. “I’ll get Greg out there. But he won’t be happy. He just got his exton off and you’ll be cutting into his three days off period.”
“Tell him that I’d go if it was him out here. And tell him to hurry up about it.” The earliest he could expect Greg to arrive would be at least an hour, probably more–it took time get these darn things on.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Olga Werby, Ed.D., has a Doctorate from U.C. Berkeley with a focus on designing online learning experiences. She has a Master's degree from U.C. Berkeley in Education of Math, Science, and Technology. She has been creating computer-based projects since 1981 with organizations such as NASA (where she worked on the Pioneer Venus project), Addison-Wesley, and the Princeton Review. Olga has a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Astrophysics from Columbia University. She became an accidental science fiction indie writer about a decade ago, with her first book, "Suddenly Paris," which was based on then fairly novel idea of virtual universes. Her next story, "The FATOFF Conspiracy," was a horror story about fat, government bureaucracy, and body image. She writes about characters that rarely get represented in science fiction stories -- homeless kids, refugees, handicapped, autistic individuals -- the social underdogs of our world. Her stories are based in real science, which is admittedly stretched to the very limit of possible. She has published almost a dozen fiction books to date and has won many awards for her writings. Her short fiction has been featured in several issues of "Alien Dimensions Magazine," "600 second saga," "Graveyard Girls," "Kyanite Press' Fables and Fairy Tales," "The Carmen Online Theater Group's Chronicles of Terror," with many more stories freely available on her blog, Interfaces.com.
Selected Book Links on Amazon:
“Becoming Animals”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078P6BB6K/
“Suddenly, Paris”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014OM5158/
“The FATOFF Conspiracy”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014S0W4WO/
“Twin Time”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LZM578L/
“Lizard Girl & Ghost: The Chronicles of DaDA Immortals”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FBR7Q1T/
“Coding Peter”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LFP45WC/
“Fresh Seed”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FFDZNYB/
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:
Olga Werby will be awarding 2 books to a randomly drawn commenter (LIZARD GIRL AND GHOST and SUDDENLY, PARIS) via rafflecopter during the tour.