Questions Of Personhood

Kristin L. Stamper Author Interview

Ternary follows a cyborg on a mission to prove she is more human than a machine. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve always been fascinated by this idea of self and the soul, especially when it comes to sci-fi. In sci-fi, you have these tropes where people are broken down and recreated by a machine (transportation), or have their consciousness downloaded into computers, or their minds swapped with another person’s. These things usually happen without any sort of repercussions, but personally, I have always wondered if in those instances the self is destroyed and replaced. Or, more specifically maybe, I wonder about the connection of the self to the brain and if the two can exist independent of one another.

This was the driving idea behind Elora’s predicament, as Elora is not only trying to prove to the world around her that she is human, but she’s also trying to figure that out for herself. Her brain is not the one she was born with, it’s a mechanical replacement, so she is always struggling with this idea that she might not be who she thinks she is. She might just be a copy. And if she is only a copy, what does that mean for her?

Elora is a complex and interesting character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Because Elora exists in a society that hates and fears robots, she has lived her entire life in fear of being discovered for what she is. She has had to hide a part of her identity, and when she is finally discovered, her fears are validated when she and her family end up in prison. As a result, Elora has developed a strong distrust of others which causes her to be distant and often abrasive as a self-defense mechanism.

The events of Ternary force her into a situation where she must work with and rely on others whether she wants to or not. In order to be successful, Elora must learn to trust and accept people into her life. This is something many people struggle with after having experienced trauma, and it’s something Elora really struggles with as well. But learning to trust again after having one’s trust broken is something that can improve a person’s life and well being and Elora’s character development is rooted in this idea.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The theme of “what does it mean to be human?” is deeply ingrained in the story as a whole, not just when it comes to Elora and what she’s going through, but also her counterpart Bertie. Bertie has no physical form at all and exists purely as a “ghost” in Elora’s mechanical brain. Is Bertie still human? If so, what does that mean for him?

The alien ship, The Compass, also raises questions of personhood as it is both mechanical and biological like Elora. And despite being a vehicle it shows signs of having thoughts and feelings. Is the Compass a person? Is being a person the same as being human? Can a machine be a person? Is an exact replica of a human, memories and all, still that human or a different human and why? These are all questions that are asked and explored within the book.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My sci-fi novel Recalled is the story of a young man who learns he is an android when the company that made him issues a recall. It is complete and looking for a home. I am also in the process of starting my next sci-fi project as we speak. Unfortunately, I do not have availability dates for future books. However, I am also an artist and have begun the development of a webcomic that I am hoping to make available on Webtoon in 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Website

Elora isn’t a robot, but she isn’t human either. She’s an abominable combination of the two, a cyborg. For this offense, she must face judgment in a court of law. There, it will be decided if she’s a person, owed the same rights as any other, or an object, owed no rights at all. 

But when a last-ditch effort to demonstrate her humanity backfires, Elora is faced with an element of human nature she always hoped to avoid: love. An accidental download traps the consciousness of a dead man in her cybernetic brain, and she becomes infatuated with his still-living husband—whether she wants to or not. 

Making her way in a solar system that fears and hates her has been hard enough. Now, she must do it as an intermediary between lovers while keeping her own heart in check. With the trial fast approaching, and anti-robot protesters demanding her head, Elora can’t afford to get swept up in someone else’s love story.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on March 12, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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