With the Inkshares/Geek & Sundry contest into its second week, it’s time to continue the featured author series! This time, Peter Ravlich’s Phase Three, which touches on some classic science fiction themes while addressing some very real elements of our lives today as consumers. Peter Ravlich can be found on twitter (@PeterRavlich) and on inklings.co.nz.
About Phase Three:
The world has an addiction. Augmenting reality – augmenting ourselves – averted a looming energy crisis, but it has become something more than that. “Overnight equality,” promises the slogan, and what’s a decade or two between advertisers?
We redefined what it means to be human, then bought our own bullshit retail.
But the physical world still exists, however much we stare into the infinite. People yet remain, living outside the reality bubbles we create. And so do the consequences of our inattention.
Three individuals, each a casualty of flawed implementation, face intimate, inconsequential decisions in pursuit of their goals. Then there’s Gordon, who simply wants to escape his past without being killed.
And their actions could unravel the world. Or save it.
Q: What part of your novel’s world excites you most?
A: Most of my science-fiction – like the stories I grew up with – begins with a hypothetical question, a what-if?
For the short story that became Phase Three, I wanted to explore the implications of wholesale virtual and augmented realities for those who define themselves by a connection to the land, particularly indigenous people. When readers asked me to develop the story into a novel, I was faced with a new array of questions. I had to consider social and scientific approaches to the energy crisis, and how different emergent technologies might interact and converge to counter current trends, where increased energy-efficiency hasn’t been correlated with lower energy consumption.
That was an exciting backdrop – to me – and might make for an engaging essay. But stories live or die on their characters, and the most exciting part of my world – and of the writing process – is when a character starts to really inhabit that world, and manages to surprise you. Three of my four main characters did so almost immediately, while a fourth snuck up on me slowly, then stabbed me in the kidneys. In a good way.
Q: Why did you choose to fund with Inkshares?
A: I got back into “serious” fiction writing when Nika Harper’s WordPlay videos were out on Geek & Sundry, and was part of the forum community that built up around them. I used Nika’s prompts as mini-deadlines, and they were instrumental in building up a professional writing routine. So I owe a large debt of gratitude to Geek & Sundry… and I guess now I’d like something more from them? Let me start that again:
So I obviously came to Inkshares via the G&S competition, but the business model is exactly the right kind of disruptive, reshaping the niche between traditional and independent publishing models and empowering readers themselves. Three days in, Inkshares’ secret weapon seems to be their proactive and passionate user-base, which has levels of engagement and community I haven’t seen since the peak of Usenet. I don’t know if my campaign will succeed on Inkshares, but I’m already thankful for the experience, which has been unreservedly positive and inspiring.
Q: What are some novels that are similar to Phase Three?
A: Much as I love Asimov and the elegance of his work, I can’t put Phase Three beside Foundation and keep a straight face – similar themes are explored, but we have vastly different styles.
I’ve got to be careful here (to avoid any implied spoilers) so I’ll dodge the question, instead: I’d like to think of my science fiction as a freaky hybrid of Philip K Dick and Hugh Howey, with a dash of Ben Elton’s irreverent humour. Phase Three is something of a hybrid, actually, because my four protagonists have really different points of view and it colours their individual narratives – one character’s tone, for example, is more reflective, closer to Murakami or Mitchell, while another’s is raw, reactive and haunted.
Now that I’ve compared Phase Three to the all-time greats and exponentially increased expectations, I should probably get back to the draft… But I am genuinely blown away by the ongoing response from Inkshares readers and authors both, and look forward to sending Phase Three out into the world.