What was the most surprising thing you found out while researching/writing your latest book?
The most recent Keiko novel is Dark Deeds, but even that was written a few years ago now. I remember looking up the orbits of planets around/through binary star systems to get an idea of what the night/day cycle would be like, but I think the most surprising thing was around food. I have a Muslim character and wanted to know if lab-grown meat would be considered halal, and it appeared that there was no consensus on it. The sources I approached came back with “not sure, but probably not”, so when he bought street food from a market it was vegetarian.
Why did you choose this setting?
I loved Firefly and was really sad that it ended :p I wanted to bring together a few different influences, like Firefly and the Games Workshop game Necromunda (for which I have since written fiction) to create a future that was grimy and dirty: not swishy doors and wipe-clean plastic like Star Trek. It’s not utopian like Star Trek, either, with one single unified human race, and there aren’t any aliens. I envisaged a galaxy where the old power blocks of Earth ganged up to lay claim to the natural resources, so you have the United States of North America, the Europan Federation, the Red Star Confederate, and so on. Mainly because that’s how I see it going, if we ever get to the technology levels I’ve depicted, and get to move out into the galaxy. I think we’re always going to be tribal.
What’s unique about your world?
I don’t know if it’s unique, but I’ve never seen it elsewhere: I have faster-than-light travel, thanks to the Alcubierre Drive, but not faster-than-light communication. I could have used quantum entanglement for that, but I actually preferred the dynamic as it is. News can’t travel faster than the person carrying it, in this setting, so if you try hard enough you can outrun your own bad press (or wanted posters). Despite the high level of tech in other ways, this gives everything almost a Wild West feel.
How real do you think the science is in your book?
The Alcubierre Drive is theoretical, but it’s a theory, not a fancy: when I was writing Dark Run, I looked it up and NASA were researching it. I figured that if NASA were researching it, it was realistic enough for me to put into a novel set five hundred years into the future. Some other tech, like the artificial gravity-generating Heim Drive, doesn’t really have any scientific background and I just put it in because I didn’t want to write people floating around in zero-gee inside their spaceship.
What was the most mundane item that you used that really has cool tech behind it? What is the tech?
Not sure, to be honest: it’s not a hard-tech world, and I’m not a computer scientist, physicist, or anything else. I wanted most of the things I used to be at least vaguely plausible, but I didn’t get bogged down in detail: the way my mind works, if I’d got too invested in that, I’d never have written the novel!
What did you include that you wish was real today?
The mechanical prosthetics, I think. The main character, Ichabod Drift, has a mechanical eye that not only replaces the one he lost when he accidentally crossed some angry crime bosses, but also does fun stuff like automatically translate text he reads.
What technology or science do you think will most affect the world of tomorrow?
At the rate we’re going, anything that can stop climate change will help there to actually BE a world of tomorrow.
Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I’m also writing freelance for Games Workshop’s Black Library, and ‘The Black Coast’, my debut fantasy novel, is coming out later this year 🙂
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