Why are we here? Where did we come from? Is there a bigger picture than the existence that we know? Is human life purposeful? Humans have contemplated the answer to these questions, and others that are similar, for much of our history. Here, author Francis O’Neill makes his own attempts to provide answers through a mixture of science, religion, the supernatural, and some ancient mythology. O’Neill’s theories lead to a definitive “yes, we are here for a reason”, but the journey to his conclusion is more interesting than the resolution itself.
In Love’s Story of Why We Are Here, O’Neill explores one of humanity’s most philosophical conundrums from a wide variety of angles. By his own admission, the theories that are proposed are speculative, and therefore untestable. For that reason, much of what he provides as answers can’t be considered true science. Many might argue that there is no science involved at all since much of the book focuses on the idea of a living Earth (not terribly far-fetched) and the importance of extraterrestrial life in human evolution. Despite the very unusual ideas that are discussed, O’Neill’s theories are presented in a well researched and organized manner, often including quotes from well known scientists in a plethora of fields. The professionalism of his work protects the subject matter from ridicule. The excessive use of commas throughout the book seems to imply a casual, conversational tone but instead creates long and circuitous sentences which often hide O’Neill’s intended meaning. I had to read many sentences multiple times, which interrupted the flow of the text and made it difficult to comprehend some of the concepts.
The theme of this book is simple- existence, purpose, and an explanation for both. Curiosity is a basic human trait that propels us forward and O’Neill uses that interest in the unknown to explore these ideas from a fresh standpoint. While some of what he discusses is not exactly new, he creates a fresh combination out of multiple theories that have been proposed in the past. It is also interesting that he uses both science and religion to support his theories, since those two schools of thought are typically contradictory.
There were parts that laid out simple rules for happiness and self-care, which everyone could stand to be reminded of. There was also a quick lesson on quantum theory that is thorough yet simplified, and incredibly interesting. Ultimately though, much of the book had a very new age and enigmatic feel. While this would be appealing to readers that are already interested in such subjects, it would likely make very few converts out of those that are not.
Pages: 163 | ASIN: B07FDG9FSL
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Slippery Things follows Larissa as she tries to navigate high school when she starts having nightmares of blood sucking aliens and can’t tell if they are real or not. How did the idea for this novel develop and how did it change as you were writing?
I love monsters, so of course I knew I had to write a book about them. Also, I’ve always found the concept of alien abduction beyond unsettling. And while I certainly don’t believe extra-terrestrials are visiting planet Earth, I wondered if the idea of creatures venturing from another dimension might make for a creepy tale.
The biggest change in the novel’s development was the point of view. Originally written in first person, I ultimately rewrote the entire book in third person. Two early readers of the the first draft suggested that if written in first person, the reader may not feel as urgent a sense of jeopardy for the main character.
Larissa is a typical teenage girl dealing with a cheating boyfriend and a self absorbed best friend. What were some characteristics that you tried to capture while writing all three of these characters?
For Larissa, it’s anger and disappointment. These emotions spring from a feeling of being trapped. Luckily, her sense of humor will help get her through the day. As for the others, I believe it’s typical for high schoolers to feel that the world revolves around them. Perhaps it’s difficult for young people to see just how deeply their behavior can affect others around them.
Slippery Things gives a unique twist to the science fiction genre. What was your approach to writing an alien abduction/invasion story while to keep it entertaining?
My personal interest in this story has always lived more with the main character than with the plot. That said, I was born with a dark sensibility. I thought about what I personally find creepy and tried to exploit that.
As far as entertainment goes, my favorite scene in genre films tends to be the point where “all hell breaks loose.” A goal of mine was to emulate this moment by building to a chaotic chase scene towards the end of the book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
My next book doesn’t have a title yet, but you can expect another young adult sci-fi novel entering the universe down the road. There will be a couple of similar themes, but an entirely new setting and diverse cast of characters. And although creepiness will certainly be on the menu, I’m working towards an overall shift in tone.
Jaded high school Junior and detention hall regular Larissa Locke has a recurring dream in which creatures sneak into her bedroom at night to perform experiments and extract her blood. Tiny scars on her arm suggest that perhaps she isn’t just dreaming. But wait! If she’s really the victim of blood-sucking alien intruders, then why is her bedroom window still locked each morning?
Posted in Interviews
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In The Second Sphere humans live longer, but terrorists aim to remove all life from the moon and Mars and return humans to Earth. This is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a science fiction, thriller, and mystery as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I try to tap the things that I love to read. People like George Pelecanos, Walter Moseley, and Michael Connelly are huge influences. I’ve always appreciated their characters; those who have their own unique ways of viewing and interacting with the world. I’ve always loved sci-fi, particularly dystopian futures, think Blade Runner. And I’ve always been fascinated with and a bit scared of conspiracies, particularly when it comes to government involvement with extraterrestrial life. All of it just came together when I sat down to write.
In this story human bodies are reduced to synthetic versions and the main character Orion has lived for a very long time. Where did this idea originate from and how did it develop as you were writing?
A good friend of mine introduced me to Ray Kurzweil’s vision of the singularity, I don’t know, maybe five or six years ago. The more I thought about it, the more the singularity kind of horrified me. Certainly there are some practical and humane possibilities when it comes to the intersection of technology and health. But at what point do we consider what we lose by literally giving up our bodies in the search for ever-lasting life? Part of this book is about processing the dark underbelly of technological advancement and scientific discovery.
It’s not easy to envision this type of a future. I ended up rewriting the details over and over because I felt that I was projecting my biases as a person living in the 21st century on a future that is barely on the horizon. Of course I couldn’t escape those biases completely, but I tried to.
The science inserted in the fiction, I felt, was well balanced. How did you manage to keep it grounded while still providing the fantastic edge science fiction stories usually provide?
I tried to write what I enjoy reading. At one point in my rewriting process, I eliminated nearly all of the science in order to keep the story moving. A reader of mine really let me have it. He was right. My goal was to make the story as lean as possible, but I’d diluted the setting. So I re-inserted the portions that grounded the story a little bit more. I wanted to give the reader just enough without being burdened.
The Second Sphere is book one in the Three Spheres Trilogy. Can you give us an idea of what the next book will be about and when that will be available?
My goal is to have book two, tentatively titled Red Death, out by next Spring. This second book is going to be pretty dark. I wanted to have the book out this year, but it’s taken me longer than I imagined to get the story itself in shape. I wanted to will it in a more optimistic direction, but that’s not where it wants to go. So I have to listen to the story that’s being told to me.
In the future, advanced technology allows everlasting life. But enemies remain, including the Green Revolution, a “terrorist” organization bent on returning all life from the moon and Mars back to Earth. After Orion Cox, Deputy Intelligence Chief for the Laslow Corporation begins an investigation into a devastating bombing in New Mumbai, Mars, supposedly undertaken by the Green Revolution, he witnesses a vicious attack caused by a virus that threatens life throughout the Three Spheres.
Posted in Interviews
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