It would be nice if I could just tell you everything you wanted to know about my book, but I don’t know who you are or what you know, much less what you want to know. IMHO, the best way to get to know someone is to trade questions. A person’s questions are often as informative as their answers.
What is thaumechanics?
The late, great Arthur C. Clark once wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The inverse, “A sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from technology,” has cloudy provenance, but I’ve always been fascinated with what that might look like.
Thaumaturgy is a word for magic that translates to “miracle working.” Vocabulary.com tells me that it’s often used to refer to the scientific principles behind magic or the “magic” of science and mathematics. This makes it a perfect root for a magical engineer — someone who solves problems using magic the same way an electrical engineer solves them with electricity. Thaumechanics is therefore the reduction of thaumaturgic principals to practice.
What was your inspiration?
I grew up reading science fiction and playing role playing games. My favorite system for developing interesting characters is Everway, which gives you five picture-cards and asks you to tell a story around them. I think of this as backstory-first character creation. The universe of Everyway is a bunch of planets connected by portals that only some people can perceive and use, and that became my foundation for world building.
Clempson hasn’t changed much since the original creation, but the story and universe have grown around him. In this first book, he starts off as the same goofy, awkward, naive former priest/minister to the Machine God, and he grows from there.
I tried to write it as fantasy, but I was naturally driven to apply a deeper philosophy. At the bottom of any phenomena, there had to be a rational explanation. How does a universe wind up as a bunch of worlds connected with portals? Why are all of these worlds full of humans? Where do the worlds come from? Eventually, I developed a magic system that was so rigorously defined that it stopped being magic and became an alternate/extra set of natural laws.
What is The Fermi Project?
This is the name of the series. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the full significance of this title becomes apparent in Book 3, tentatively entitled “Utopia.”
Speaking of which, how is book 2 coming along?
I finished the first draft, but a lot of it needs to be worked over. I’m currently going through the chapters and rating each chapter on a scale of 1 to 5, and will find a way to update this page for the curious. All chapters are at least a 2 right now. When all chapters hit 4 and enough chapters hit 5, I will publish it.
The current working title is Dystopia: Clempson Goes to Hell.
Who are your favorite authors?
Favorites are hard for me. I didn’t have a favorite color until I had children who wanted to know what color to buy gifts in. I decided to go with teal, which is why that’s the color of thaumaturgy in my world.
That said, I have a number of authors whose work I have enjoyed, and for which I have tried to incorporate the joy that they’ve given me in my own writing. The reason mentioned below isn’t the only reason I like their writings, it’s just what stands out as something worth emulating.
Brandon Sanderson, for his rigorously defined and detailed magic systems, and because the Mistborn series had the best thought-out ending I’ve ever read. Sandman‘s ending takes second, but only because Gaiman’s list of contributing details felt more random (personal perception, I’m sure).
Iain Banks, for stretching how far you can take science and still having it be recognizable as science. I also appreciate how well he modelled a post-scarcity economy.
Jim Butcher, for his non-stop action and witty repartee
Terry Pratchett, for his insightful and witty social commentary
Lawrence Watt Evans, for his analysis and cross-comparison of different types of magic.
Neil Gaiman, for telling a very, very good story
Isaac Asimov, for showing me that you don’t need a lot of fanciful weirdness to tell a good story.
Larry Niven, for weaving disconnected tales into the evolving universe of Known Space.