Guess who’s back on the blog? Collin Piprell! The author of MOM and Genesis 2.0 from the Magic Circles series sat down (digitally) to talk with me about his new book. I’ve been wondering how this insanely thought-up series will go, and finally, we get to find out.
Genesis 2.0 is now available online!
Hey, Collin. Welcome back to my blog. I’d like to congratulate you on your latest release, Genesis 2.0!
- You’re on your second novel in your Magic Circles series. Can you explain what’s happening in Genesis 2.0? What are Cisco and your other characters facing?
The book begins with a new character, a young man who negotiates a grueling gauntlet through the terrifying world Outside that we saw in MOM. He eventually encounters survivors of MOM’s cast of characters. Some of these have come to resemble the Olympian gods of old. Cisco himself resembles a hero out of myth, operating in both Aeolia, a virtual realm, and in mondoland, the ruined remnants of the pre-PlagueBot world (real world).
The story involves (1) a titanic contest between our villain-in-chief Brian Finister and the AI that superseded him as MOM (mall operations manager), (2) another contest between the personality alters of the fragmented AI MOM, (3) contests between our young heroes (Cisco, Dee Zu, and Son) and the Olympians (and others), and (4) two different love triangles with all the attendant drama.
- What surprised me the most is how the former generated reality test pilots don’t know how to survive in the wild (the real world). They’ve lived in malls for most, if not all, of their lives. This dependence on technology smacks you in the face when you read Genesis. Were you hoping for that effect from readers? Is there some message you are hoping to impart?
If there’s a message in that, it’s simply that digital tech and, more so, the qubital tech to come encourages us to outsource our mental faculties to the point we’re in danger of becoming entirely dependent on that technology. (Though Dee Zu and Cisco are uncommonly resourceful, for mallsters, and cope pretty well with losing their qubital umbilicals.)
For a take on the outsourcing theme, you can visit this blog post: “Outsource our minds? What a good idea.” http://www.collinpiprell.com/outsource-our-minds-what-a-good-idea/.
Even without all that, imagine your average modern urbanite reduced to living off the land. Would they have the skills to find food and water, to find adequate shelter or defend themselves against physical threats from animals and other people?
- Cisco’s (the main character) world has fallen apart. His life is turned upside down at the end of your first book. What is his frame of mind in the sequel? What is he fighting for?
He finds he’s even more in love with the “wet” Dee Zu that he was with the virtual variety. And the Lode has enough of Cisco—enough of the “right stuff,” the properly stressed personal data—that, as he has already proven, he’s capable of ascension as an autonomous ebee to Aeolia, Sky’s qubital alternative to mondoland, or what you refer to above as the “real world.” He wants to ensure that Dee Zu survives long enough the Lode can absorb enough of her data that, should the wet Dee Zu die, she also has this option of a second life in Aeolia.
At the same time, Cisco is co-opted by Sky, serving as her agent in resisting both Brian’s machinations and the attempts of Mildread, one of Sky’s personality alters, to shut down Sky’s Aeolia project.
- Who or what inspired you to write Brian and Sky (the antagonists)?
Sky, to some limited extent, is a virtual version of the ancient Pygmalion story. A human creation that comes to life in a way that causes people to become infatuated, even sexually embroiled with her. But that’s a real stretch, and is misleading.
Other than that, I wanted an AI with human qualities, at least in part, and discovered a fine source of dramatic conflict between a machine MOM (mall operations manager) who has ascended to self-aware autonomy, and Brian Finister, the megalomaniacal last human MOM, whom she superseded.
- What was your favourite part in writing Genesis?
I enjoyed writing all its various parts, but maybe I had the most fun with Brian. First of all with his “despatches,” his raving fulminations and attempts to supply a history for a future readership he believes will never exist; and, secondly, with the chapters where his scendent personality fences with the super-intelligent Sky, determined to prevail in the end, no matter how unlikely that outcome appears.
- Can you give us a glimpse into your third novel, Resurrections?
To reveal the essential theme and plot device would prove a spoiler for readers of Genesis 2.0. The best I can do is say that, underlying MOM and Genesis, we find developments that point towards a game-changing evolutionary emergence. This element is brought to surprising conclusions in Resurrections, and our heroes (including, again, new characters in addition to the old cast) have to cope with these developments, which offer at once huge promise and dire threats for the future.