Hello, friend of the written word. Today, The Warbler features Evan Graham, whose book, Tantalus Depths, is an entrant in the Inkshares / Geek & Sundry contest, which is set to wrap up at the end of this week. This book sounds like a video game I want to play. Go ahead and check it out, as well as some of the other entrants Evan listed below.
About Tantalus Depths:
Mary Ketch and the crew of The Diamelen signed on to a simple survey mission to the distant planet Tantalus 13. The trip was little more than a formality; a government-mandated check-in to ensure that the artificially intelligent, self-constructing SCARAB base was functioning correctly as it lay the foundation to a new mining colony. What they found was much less mundane.
Mysteries abound on Tantalus. The mining base SCARAB is building looks like a luxury hotel. A solid sheet of pure platinum seems to cover Tantalus 13 from pole to pole just under the surface. Strangest of all, however, is the realization that Tantalus 13 may not be a planet at all, but an ancient alien construct of unknown origin and purpose.
Driven to learn more about this celestial relic from before the rise of human civilization, the crew of The Diamelen begin to explore the depths of Tantalus in search of answers. However, SCARAB seems determined to keep Tantalus 13’s secrets, and it isn’t about to let its own programming get in the way of pursuing its own agendas.
Q: What part of your novel’s world excites you most?
A: This story takes place in the very early stages of humanity’s development of an interstellar society. They’ve only colonized a few worlds, faster-than-light travel is possible but still takes months, and artificial gravity doesn’t exist yet. We’ve yet to contact other lifeforms anywhere. Basically, we’re in the frontier stage of space exploration. There’s an endless void of nothing out there, and this is humanity’s first experience finding something to show that we’re not alone. And it’s something big. There’s this sense of the wonder of discovery, but it’s tempered with the dread of the unknown. There’s something I like about the idea that, as curious as we are about what lies out there in the stars, maybe there are discoveries to be made out there that we really just wouldn’t be able to handle.
Q: What (if any) are some novels that are similar to yours?
A: I drew a lot of inspiration from the novel of 2001: A Space Odyssey, especially in the characterization of my resident rogue AI, SCARAB. I also took a lot of notes from Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot when it came time to defining what ethical laws robots follow in this universe (hint: SCARAB still ends up breaking those laws). Mary Ketch, the central character, owes a great deal to Ellen Ripley of the Alien franchise. The thrills of exploring an ancient deserted alien world sprang from my love of stories like Rendezvous with Rama and The Forbidden Planet. I took a little bit of everything from everywhere, and put it together in a story that somehow still works.
Q: How did you find out about the contest, and what are some of the other books that appeal to you in the contest?
A: Unfortunately, I found out about the contest about halfway through it, so I got off to a pretty late start. I’m a big fan of what they do at Geek and Sundry, and I follow a lot of their programs very regularly. I visited their home page one day, saw the banner for a hard sci-fi novel contest and though “Hey, I have one of those. I could enter!” So I did.
I’m excited about And the Sky Let Go by Victoria Hennings. It offers a unique take on the post-apocalyptic genre we’re all familiar with and promises a look beyond the end. I like the idea of the world ending but humans being too stubborn to end with it, regardless of the issues that entails.
Beyond the Horizon by M. V. Salerno explores those themes as well, but to an even greater extreme. Starting a book by diving down the throat of a black hole is one of the gutsiest things I’ve seen in a while, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from there!