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Interview with Nate Ragolia

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This week we have a more upbeat look at the future.  In this interview Nate Ragolia talks about  his novel The Retroactivist






What was the most surprising thing you found out while researching/writing your latest book?

The Retroactivist imagines a utopian future in the year 2087, so while I made some creative choices, I also spent a lot of time trying to connect the dots between the present day, and my imagined world. There were two surprising points in my research. First, I was surprised to understand just how feasible and imminent automation and universal basic income are. We’re on the precipice of some major changes to the way we think about living, working, and supporting ourselves, and each other. A combination of technology and forward thinking is just about all we need at this point to experience a fundamental shift in the human condition.  Second, for a chapter that imagines the way religions might coexist in the future, I learned something that wasn’t that surprising, but that reaffirmed my hopes for tomorrow. Namely, the major religions all seek and teach the same things. I’m not talking about manipulated forms of religion for political reasons or otherwise, but the root texts themselves. When you look at the foundations of them, each religion espouses seeking knowledge, creating understanding, showing compassion, and growing individually and communally. Those are all wonderful things.

Why did you choose this setting?

I set The Retroactivist in Denver, Colorado in part because it’s my home. Denver is a Western city that, by its nature, is almost constantly in flux. We don’t have the history of the East Coast, or the density of the West Coast. Instead, we’re a city filled with innovative, cosmopolitan, outdoorspeople who manage to wear each of those hats equally. It made sense for me to imagine what Denver might look like, and how it might connect with the world at-large in 2087. It also made sense because Denver has a mixed of ideologies, both community-centric, and individually empowered. This made my protagonist, Reid, and his conflict in the book, a bit of a micro version of the larger conflict between the Community and the Individual.

What’s unique about your world?

Hmm. My world is unique in that everyone can pursue their passions, free of fear from disease, starvation, paying bills, not having enough time, needing to define themselves by their careers. It’s not a world that exists on this Earth yet. But, the world in The Retroactivist is also somewhat ordinary. The technologies that I propose are all in development, existing, or within the reach of the hands of science. And the human conflicts within the book are as real and normal as you or I. Reid is seeking meaning and purpose in his life, the same way we all do, and that creates conflicts that we have all experienced at one time or another.

How real do you think the science is in your book?

The concepts and ideas that are actively happening now like robots, smart homes, 3-D printing, fast tube-based travel, sustainable clean energy, and universal basic income are all definitely real and definitely in development around the world right now. The broad reaches and capabilities of those systems, by 2087, and how they look and feel are more food from and for the imagination. But I don’t think that anything is so far fetched that we couldn’t see it happen before the turn of the next century.

What did you include that you wish was real today?

Oh, man! All of it! The automated doctors. The food replicators (based on 3-D printing). The robots and the freedom from working-to-live. The Elon Musk / Hyperloop-inspired Tubecars. All of these things would be amazing to have today.

Anything else you would like to share with the readers?

The Retroactivist was the first book released by Spaceboy Books LLC, a Denver-based science fiction publisher that I co-founded. We have also released The Necronaut, and an anthology collaboration called BONED Every Which Way. This Fall, we have three more books coming out. You can find our books through Amazon, and can request them at most brick-and-mortar bookstores. We are also open to submissions of science fiction that is unique, weird, and optimistic. You can learn more via our website:, or by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you’re interested, my previous book, There You Feel Free, is a blend of fiction and poetry about the disillusionment, and self-discovery that comes in our mid-to-late twenties and early-thirties. It is a reworking/homage of T.S. Eliot’s classic poem The Waste Land, melded with 5 short stories.

Links for Nate: