How many science-fiction stories are actually written by actual scientists?
That is the question that came to my mind when I stumbled upon the Rome’s Revolution trilogy (comprising the books Rome’s Revolution, The Ark Lords, and Rome’s Evolution) by American author, Michael Brachman, who possesses a PhD in Sensory Science, alongside a qualification in Computer Science. His series deals with a man out of time, Rei, who, through a sequence of events finds himself in the 35th century. Michael kindly took the time to answer Geekzine UK’s questions…
Andrew Jamieson, Editor-in-Chief
Andrew Jamieson: Your trilogy of novels are set in the 35th century. What were the challenges that faced you as a writer and a scientist?
Michael Brachman: My biggest challenge was trying to figure out what day-to-day life would be like 14 centuries from now. In the end, it was actually easier than you’d think. As part of my future history, I created an event called The Great Dying (the term was stolen from the dinosaurs) in the year 2081 AD. It was caused by an artificial virus and over nine billion people died. As a result, society devolved into the Dark Ages and it took them many, many centuries to come back to a technology-based culture. My people of the future, called the Vuduri, are therefore only a little ahead of us technologically so it was much easier to speculate on the wonders of their age. I gave them an extra chromosome which allowed them to speak mind to mind and resulted in a mass-mind called The Overmind. That was the second hardest challenge: trying to figure out what life would be like without privacy of thought. I eventually decided that people would give up trying to have original thoughts and as a society, they would be rather bland and emotionally deficient. It made for a great dramatic pairing when my hero from our century, Rei (pronounced Ray, not rye) meets Rome, a member of the Vuduri. Sparks fly.
AJ: What inspired you to write the trilogy?
MB: The answer to this question is somewhat confusing. I originally wrote a single, standalone novel entitled VIRUS 5. It ended with Rei and Rome flying off together into the sunset. But I liked the characters so much and the world of the 35th century that I could not help but wonder what happened to them. This led to VIRUS 5, Book 2: Tau Ceti. Once I completed that, I had no choice but to write VIRUS 5, Book 3: Earth to sew up all the loose ends. I spent four years marketing and trying to find an agent and got nowhere. So I collapsed the three novels into a 167,000 word omnibus and renamed it Rome’s Revolution. At that point, I thought I was done. But one day (in the shower of all places), it suddenly came to me that there were a lot of unexplained items from Rome’s Revolution that tied into a nice, tidy plot. So I wrote another book called The Ark Lords. At that point, I knew I was done. I had this little idea for a novella that was going to go into a book of short stories but as I was writing it, I realized the plot ran so much deeper than I originally planned. It ended up being an 84,000 word novel entitled Rome’s Evolution. You can call it a trilogy. You can call it five interconnected novels. It doesn’t matter. I am done. I put the words “The End” at the end of the final book so I wouldn’t be tempted to write yet another one!
AJ: How long did the three books take you to write and publish?
MB: I wrote the first draft of VIRUS 5 in 1973. I put it away for thirty years. I resurrected it in 2005 and rewrote it. That took about a year. Once I decided to write Book 2 (now Part 2), it took me about three months. The last part (originally called VIRUS 5, Book 3: Earth) only took me six weeks even though it was equal in length to the prior ones. Once I made the decision to collapse them into an omnibus, it took about a month to edit them down. I am at the point now where it takes me about six weeks to write a novel but with waiting for readers and editors and artwork, I find I can crank out and publish a novel about every nine months. At this point, I plan to stick to that schedule and am planning on releasing my next novel early next year.
AJ: Out of the three books in the trilogy, of which are you the most proud of and why?
MB: That’s like asking someone which child do you love the best? Rome’s Revolution, in its current form, is the richest in terms of science and world-building. I am very proud of that one. The Ark Lords was the first novel I wrote from scratch where I had a clearly defined beginning, middle and end. I am proud of that one as well. Rome’s Evolution is the best written (in my opinion) and is all about action and adventure. So, the answer is, all of them.
AJ: Do you read much science-fiction? If so, who are your favourite authors, and/or what are your favourite books?
MB: When I was growing up, I was a voracious reader of science fiction. My favorite authors were Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg and so many others. In later years, I enjoyed the works of Roger Zelasny, Brian Aldiss, David Gerrold, Larry Niven and even William Shatner. Recently, I have kind of recused myself from reading books (I still love movies) because I have found that reading them influences my writing in subtle and sometimes unnoticeable ways and I don’t want to be accused of plagiarism. I suppose when I get down the road a little more, I’ll feel more comfortable and more resistant to influence and then I’ll get back to reading more.
AJ: What was the last good book that you read?
MB: I’m not 100% sure I even enjoyed them but I found the Mars series by Kim Stanley Robinson to be incredibly detailed with tons of hard science.
AJ: What advice would you give to any aspiring science-fiction writers?
MB: Decide if you want to write hard or soft science fiction. If you want to write hard science fiction, you have to do your research so that you don’t put something in there that you know (or a qualified reader knows) not to be true. This is hard work but ultimately it pays off.
AJ: What are you working on next?
MB: I am currently working on my next series tentatively name The Vuduri Knights. It takes place in the same universe as my Rome’s Revolution series but two decades later. The first book in the series is called The Milk Run and it is about half done. I am hoping to have it completed and published by the end of the year.
Thank you to Michael for his answers.
You can buy his books on Amazon, and can find out more information from the following websites:
(All three books are available in paperback and for all e-book readers)
Wiki: Rome’s Revolution: The Science Behind the Science Fiction – http://romesrevolution.wikidot.com
Blog: Tales of the Vuduri – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5874161.Michael_Brachman/blog