For this week’s Feature Friday Futures interview we are joined by William Parker who is here to tell us about his novel The Cloudscape Chronicles.
How did you build this concept, what research did you do?
I did research into the potential for VR to be implanted into the brain of a human being. This is unlikely but a technology that makes more sense within the context of the novel as the members of the villainous cult in the story communicate with their members via a computer network that contains the simulated AI of their leader for ease of communication. I also did some light research into deadly gases as the planet of the Cloudscape is surrounded by a poisonous cloud-like mist.
What was the most surprising thing you found out while researching/writing your latest book?
I read Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom to analyse the dangers of Artificial Intelligence by an expert. I think it opened my eyes to the true risks of such a technology.
Can you describe your world or setting?
The Cloudscape is a planet in a goldilocks zone a few light years away from Earth with all the things we need to survive. The population are the descendants of a huge cult led by a visionary named Vincent Vance who believed Earth had become too corrupted by its dependance on technology. It’s a world where the tech of the future is only allowed to be used by the most elite; due to Vincent’s death the world is falling to an even worse moral decay than on Earth. Factions war in the streets, there is a stench of poverty, and many nations form that each have differing interests. The novel is set 200 years into the beginning of the colonization of the planet. The resource extraction has caused a mist, that gives the Scape its name, to emerge that is slowly closing in on the planet’s inhabitants.
What’s unique about your world?
The world is surrounded by a constant reminder of its own inevitable doom. How that impacts the society the Cloudscape exists in is what gives the novel its edge. People are more hellbent on their own self-interest, including the main character, instead of the welfare of humanity as a whole.
How do you explain the science or magic in your world?
Everything goes back to Vincent Vance, known as the Founder. He is worshiped and upheld by the population, and so the ruling body known as the Jaded Council have to hide their disdain for the Founder and pretend to worship him too. The science and technology therefore still exist so the Cloudscape can develop, but there is a tradition upheld that wider society cannot get their hands on this tech. So, people are still listening to music on cassettes and driving classic cars.
What was the most mundane item that you used that really has cool tech behind it – what is the tech?
The VR blue goggles are a mainstay of the novel, allowing the main character to talk to the AI reconstruction of the Founder. The tech allows these two characters to develop their feud. The cult members have chips in their heads which act in a similar way. They can enter this virtual world which the Founder creates from his own whims.
How do you handle the food in your world?
The food is very mixed and diverse. Although food is not a theme in the story, the Cloudscape is made up of different pockets of culture due to the diversity of the people who inhabited the first colonization ship.
Do you have a recipe that you could share, maybe one that our readers could try, based on the food in your world?
The Alphie Ateal special is a popadom dipped in beer. Its what he ate a lot of the time during his depressive episodes.
What did you include that you wish was real today?
I, perhaps controversially, believe in a culture that’s more unified than fractured. In that sense, I wish we had a culture that was shaped by an individual or a small group that still held some kind of sway as a national identity. But humans are humans so we have to be at each other’s throats.
What technology or science do you think will most affect the world of tomorrow?
Artificial Intelligence will change humanity in ways we cannot even fathom. All jobs will be automated in the new Automation Revolution, we will live longer but have no purpose as our jobs will be stolen by the technology, we will be entirely dependent on. Depressing, isn’t it?
Anything else you would like to share?
Really just to give my novel a read. It was a few years in the making despite its moderate length and I feel it’s a tight story set in a unique world with a focus on character development. I hope you will give it a go, and keep an eye out for my printed version which is coming soon for the minimum possible price.
- Instagram: instagram.com/weparkerbooks_/