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Ask a Book Buyer | December 6, 2013 3 comments
At Powell's, our book buyers select all the new books in our vast inventory. If we need a book recommendation, we turn to our team of resident... Continue »
Daniel H. WilsonDescribe your latest book.
Sometime last year, I stopped short and realized something that each of us must come to grips with eventually. The future is now, and it sucks. Staggered, I decided that it was my duty to write the book Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived, as a first step toward the future we were promised.
The future was supposed to be a fully automated, atomic-powered, germ-free Utopia, a place where a grown man could wear a velvet spandex unitard and not be laughed at. Where are the ray guns, the flying cars, and the hoverboards that we expected?
As a human being and as a man I can no longer sit idly by while children walk to school instead of riding rocket skates; while newlyweds spend their honeymoons in above-ground hotels instead of in underwater hotels where they belong; or while our grandparents are forced to eat full meals instead of choking down handfuls of food pills dispensed from a slot in an otherwise featureless wall of solid granite.
The time has come to hold the golden age of science fiction accountable for its promises. In this book, I ruthlessly expose sci-fi technology, spotlighting existing prototypes and revealing drawing-board plans. I cover which technologies are already available, who made them, and where to find them. If the technology is not publicly available, I explain how to build, buy, or steal it.
It's true there are myriad ways in which futuristic technology could cause personal injury, societal instability, or explosive decompression. Nevertheless, I solemnly pledge to completely ignore any potentially catastrophic consequences of worldwide technology adoption in these pages. If the technology is possible, even remotely so, this book lays it out for all to see. So if you know someone who is afraid of being creamed by an out-of-control jetpacker, seen naked through X-ray spectacles, or who plans to sue the first time a space hotel spirals into the sun please, tell them to stay out of our glorious future.
I wrote this book because, despite every World's Fair prediction, every futuristic ride at Disneyland, and the advertisements on the last page of every comic book ever written, we are not living in a techno-Utopia. Not yet. Now is the time to stop wishing, to start reading, and to stand up and shout: Where in the hell is my jetpack!?
I love getting emails from readers. The other day I talked a nine-year-old boy out of asking his doctor for retinal and cochlear implants. Seriously. I've also been told that the robot on the cover of my book, How to Survive a Robot Uprising, suspiciously resembles Optimus Prime from the Transformers. And for the record I agree, Optimus would never shoot lasers from his eyes at innocent people. Other readers are really helpful. One guy let me know that my book covers are terrible and that he would make them for me from now on. By himself. For free.
How do you relax?
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
Okay. Imagine a dragon the size of a house flapping its way over the English channel, crawling with musket-carrying British soldiers who fire volleys at enemy dragons that are trying to get close enough so that their French soldiers can leap over and attack with flashing sabers. Hell yes! Uh, anyway... I read His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novick.
I read the book because the last time I spoke to my film agent he was all breathless and shivery about having made a huge sale to Peter Jackson (of LoTR fame). He told me about this book with dragons fighting during the Napoleonic Wars. I told him that he was a dweeb and that nobody cares about talking dragons because they're dumb and overdone. Then he challenged me to read the book and I did. So I stand corrected. Talking dragons are not dumb. At least, these aren't.
(Note: Yes, I just sort of bragged about having a film agent. So what?)
What makes your favorite pair of shoes better than the rest?
Why do you write?
The answer is that I write mostly to avoid having to wake up and go to an office for a set amount of time and then come home later with a little less of my sanity. Portland is the perfect place to suck down caffeine, throw down a few words, and then wander off and get drunk at Acapulco's Gold and try to play four-square with strangers in the park. Or was that an elementary school?
Do you read blogs? What are some of your favorites?
Other than that I read about technology, writing, and Hollywood: Engadget is a good tech blog; check the Artful Writer for screenwriting advice; ask my pal Rick Kleffel which sci-fi books to read at the Agony Column; and you know you got to visit Ain't It Cool News if you want the down low on Hollywood.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Live from New York: As Told by Its Stars, Writers and Guests by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller