I write science fiction, but I don’t like a lot of the modern stuff: military, post-apocalyptic, zombies. The science is either silly or it doesn’t play a central role in the story. When done right, I think sci-fi is the best genre for challenging what you think you know about the universe and your place in it. Helping people to examine their assumptions in a rigorous way is the reason I write.
Western civilization seems to have given up on understanding the complex technology and society we have constructed. I think our current yearning for magical fixes and authoritative leaders comes from feeling lost in complexity. But this yearning for someone to “show us the way,” to provide simple solutions to complex problems, is dangerous to the planet and to all of humanity.
As a scientist/storyteller, I try not to use “magical” explanations as the basis for any of my settings, conflicts, or resolutions. I think long and hard about a plausible scientific rationale for everything important that happens in my stories. If I can’t see some way that something could have a natural explanation, I won’t use it.
That’s quite a challenge in the Deplosion series as I cover quite a range of ideas: a universe evolving naturally from virtual particles; a generated field that changes the natural laws of physics; a way to grow a supercomputer in your head; a combination of artificial intelligence and downloading of a human mind; instantaneous travel throughout the universe; virtual worlds; buildings you grow; genetic engineering for living on different planets; etc.
For each of these, I can conceive of a scientific route that justifies the different technologies in question. Add in political intrigue, religion, philosophy, and human passion and you have the kind of story I enjoy reading. That’s what I try to write.
Education and experience
When I was very young, a teacher asked our class to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. My story was entitled “Me the Everything.” I’ve been fortunate to come close to fulfilling that dream in my life. Computer programming, molecular biology, nanotechnology, systems biology, synthetic biology, business consulting, and photocopy repair, I’ve worked in many fields. I’ve spent way too much of my life in school, eventually earning degrees in computing science (BSc) and in molecular biology and genetics (PhD). I’ve even had the chance to work with some of the best researchers in the world at The National Institute for Nanotechnology in Edmonton, Canada.
After decades of reading almost nothing but high-tech science fiction, I decided to take a shot at writing some. I aim for stories that are true to the best available science, while pushing my imagination far beyond the edge of what we know today. I love biology, particle physics, cosmology, artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, politics, and economics. My philosophy is empirical physicalism and I blog regularly about the science and the ideas found in my novels. I believe fiction should educate and stimulate, as much as it entertains.
My wife and I currently live in Cuenca, Ecuador where we study Spanish and Chen-style Tai Chi, when not working on exciting and provocative new stories.
Click here for my complete (almost) life story.
Here’s a picture of our group being unusually well synchronized toward the end of the “18 movements” routine. And yes, we have weather like this year-round in Cuenca.