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Featured Author: Erin Butler

With the end of the Geek and Sundry Hard Science contest on Inkshares a few weeks away, there’s still time to feature more entrants! Today we feature Erin Butler’s Farm Boy.

Temporary cover for Farm Boy
Temporary cover for Farm Boy
About Farm Boy:

Farm Boy is the story of… hm. This is a bit awkward, really. The many final days of a clone, or clones. Finding the right pronouns is a bit tricky: normally I’d describe it as having multiple protagonists, but it is the same person who has been cloned and is force-grown inside an institution built for that purpose. As events outside the institution occur, how many would directly affect the life of the people being fought over, and to what end?

I was raised on a farm myself, and as such I considered not just where my food came from but also what the life of the animals was like. To me, there was The Bargain: we looked after them as best we could, and in exchange we controled their lives, including the ending of it for our use. From there changing the use of the farm animals from food to life extention was an easy step. There are moral, ethical, and political questions around it, of course; but I think once it’s feasible then politics may be the only thing that prevents it.

Q: What part of your novel’s world excites you most?

A: The mostly invisible pressures that must be getting applied to the ‘teachers’ of the institution, I think. There would be layers and layers of people arguing over the fate of the ‘students’ outside the walls, and the people running it would hear about most of them, while still having their own ideas of the place where they work. Having a mandate of “Make the clones’ lives as nice as possible” while knowing what their ultimate use is – and keeping it from them – would be incredibly difficult. I like those stakes a lot.

Q: Why did you choose to fund with Inkshares?

A: It struck me as a fascinating way to (at the very least) get your ideas written down. Giving myself a deadline is very handy, and it also gives me an audience to write for, which helps me maintain a consistent voice: I’m writing for the people who are either funding my book or just following along. They are generous enough to trust me with the story, so I want to produce the best possible work for them.

I am laughing at myself, though, because of all the ideas I’ve got for books this one is probably the least accessible, so the most likely to be a commercial failure. And here I am at a crowdfunding site.

Q: What are some novels that are similar to yours?

A:  Unsurprisingly movies and television tend to come to mind with people I’ve talked to this about – The Island, or Blade Runner, or the new Battlestar Galactica series. I can dream to compare Farm Boy to any of Phil K. Dick’s stuff, can’t I? Maybe in a couple decades and a couple dozen more books… But I think it’s as much about more about personal and social isolation, so perhaps THX 1138 or Logan’s Run might be a closer match. I actually would have loved to have seen more of Battlestar Galactica from the Cylon’s perspective, but maybe that’s just me.

Individual readers are going to bring whatever perspective they have, naturally: that’s The Bargain for anyone who creates anything. Once the story’s out of my hands, I’m done. There’s nothing I can say or do to change how a reader interprets it. And I’m really looking forward to hearing what other people think I’m saying.

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