by Olga Werby
GENRE: Science Fiction
Almost a century after Keres Triplets asteroid impact and subsequent nuclear exchange almost ended all human life on Earth, a strange artifact is discovered on one of the moons of Saturn. Who should be sent to the outer reaches of the solar system to initiate the first contact with an alien culture? Dr. Varsaad Volhard, an evolutionary-socio-historian, is chosen to help the world understand the alien civilization that left an artifact some thirty thousand years ago, before humans even learned to farm, at the time when other human species still walked the earth. While Vars prepares for the mission, her father, Dr. Matteo Volhard, discovers nanobots among the microplastics he studies. The bots are everywhere and seem to have been created to bond with human cyber implants. Why? Matteo is made to keep his discovery a secret…as well as his and his daughter’s true origins. Both were donated to a Human DNA Vault as babies. Matteo was raised as a Seed before leaving with his young daughter to study ecology around the world. Who knows what? Who is in control? How does one communicate with non-human intelligence? People seem to die in gruesome ways as their cyberhumatics go haywire on Earth and on Luna and Mars colonies. Is Earth under attack or is it all just a cosmic misunderstanding? Vars needs to use all she knows to solve the mystery of the ancient civilization on Mimas, as her dad battles the alien nanobots at home.
Vars slept on the plane…or tried to. She was too confused, too keyed up to really sleep. That coffee might have been a mistake. Ian said that he couldn’t tell her anything until they arrived at his EPSA office in Seattle, which was conveniently her own hometown where she lived with her dad. The man just smiled a lot and talked about how much he had enjoyed reading Vars’s new book.
There was a strange edge to their interaction. If Vars hadn’t believed Ian’s credentials, she would have bailed on him a long time ago. Even so, she felt like she was being kidnapped. And, in a way, she was. She’d had to cancel the last two lectures of her book tour and apologize to her agent over and over again. Ian had promised that EPSA would send an official excuse letter, but Vars still felt like she let her agent and publisher down.
They landed at a general aviation airport, and another black car whisked them to EPSA’s headquarters, just outside of Seattle’s city limits. She was taken to a conference room on the top floor of the EPSA science building, which Ian called the “tree house.” She immediately understood why–it was surrounded on all sides by a balcony planted with a row of trees and some shrubbery. It was quite nice, but Vars couldn’t enjoy it; she was simultaneously exhausted and adrenalized. It was just a matter of time before she crashed.
She must have looked it, too, because someone handed her a very big, very steamy cup of coffee. She sipped it gratefully, completely oblivious to how she came to be holding it. It was still very early in the morning, way before Vars even liked to get up, much less attend a meeting.
About a dozen EPSA people joined her and Ian around the conference table. Vars noticed that several paper copies of her book were laid out; some even looked read, with cracked spines and dog-eared pages.
“So,” she said to Ian. “Is now a good time and place for you to tell me what this is all about?”
“Now is perfect,” Ian said with a big smile. “We are very grateful to have you with us today, Dr. Volhard. This is my exobiology team.” He pointed one by one to the people on one side of the table. “Dr. Alice Bear. Dr. Greg Tungsten. Dr. Bob Shapiro. Dr. Saydi Obara. Dr. Evelyn Shar. And Dr. Izzy Rubka.”
Vars had heard of some of these people by reputation, of course, but never met any of them personally. EPSA people were a reclusive bunch, tending to mix with their own to the exclusion of others, even with the same research interests. It was one of the reasons Vars always wanted to join the organization–to get access to the best and the brightest minds and a chance to discuss the origins of life over coffee… But the introductions were happening so fast, there was no chance that she would remember how any of these names linked up with faces. Vars doubted she would even recognize these people walking down the street.
But Ian just continued. “And this group,” he gestured to two men and a woman, “is on loan from JPL–Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. Trish Cars, Dr. Ron Silverman, and Dr. Benjamin Kouta.” Vars gave up on remembering who was who. “And these two,” Ian said, nodding to a pair of identical twins sitting next to him, “are Ibe and Ebi Zimov, our computer science wunderkinds from EISS, European Institute of Space Science.”
Interview with the Author:
Thank you very much for this opportunity to connect with the Independent Authors Blog readers.
I had two novels published in 2019: “Harvest” and “God of Small Affairs.”
You can point your readers to the first few chapters of “Harvest” here: https://interfaces.com/blog/my-books/harvest/
And here’s a link to the first few chapters of “God of Small Affairs”:
This book tour was meant for “Harvest,” but I wanted to give you something a bit different. I will talk about writing both of these books. I will also make “God of Small Affairs” free on Kindle for the first 5 days of your book stop: November 20th to November 25th. It’s something nice that I can do for your readers: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Y2FT9H2/
The text of the post is below, in addition to some background on “Harvest”. If there is anything I can do to make this interview work better for you, please let me know. I can provide art, reviews, links…
All the best,
Here are a few of my sites:
Author’s Website: https://interfaces.com/blog/
My husband asked me the other day what do I like more? Having my books on Amazon and other bookstores? Being “famous”? Getting a hard copy of my book in my hands (the unveiling, as people call it on Twitter and post videos of themselves crying upon opening a box of books)? Reviews? The strange thing is that it’s not any of these things (although reviews are great and greatly appreciated!). What I love most is the actual writing part of writing. I like the creation of a brand new world populated by beings from my imagination. I actually go through a mourning period after each story I finish. And I feel this way about my painting, too. Don’t get me wrong; having accomplished something as hard as writing a novel is nice. Real nice. But the time when I sit in front of my computer and put “words to paper” is the best part of writing for me. All those ideas and thoughts that were expressing themselves in my dreams (day and night), the little notes I wrote to myself about plot points or definitions of words, the searches through interesting imagery, the many months of research into the subject matter, all congeal into a story as I sit down to write it. And I get to watch it come to life in real time. It’s magic!
There are different kinds of writers. And by this I don’t mean the subject areas or the genres of their stories. It’s all about the creation process. Some writers create outlines and know exactly the story they are telling. There might be surprises, there always are, but generally speaking, those writers know the endings of their books before they put their pens to paper. Then there are writers like me. I’m, what’s called in the industry, a “seat of my pants” writer. That means that after doing all of the research and taking all of the notes and collecting hundreds of images…I just start writing. I have no idea how the story ends; I don’t know which characters will live and which won’t make to the end. I’m just as surprised as my readers by the twists and turns of my stories. Crazy, right? But lots of writers write this way, just as lots of authors meticulously plot every detail of their stories. And of course there many who fall somewhere on the continuum between these extremes.
One of the downsides of not having a story outline is that I have to reread everything I wrote the day prior before I start generating new material. It helps me keep my story more cohesive. Sometimes (rarely), I have to go back and change a few facts to make my story take a twist that I dreamt about the night before. But the amazing thing is that it all works out! I believe that it works out because I spend so much time in “pre world”—it takes me a few years of gathering materials to get to the point of being ready to write. There is absolutely a ton of unconscious processing stuff that happens in my brain and that I get to see on paper (screen) only many months after the fact.
For example, I’ve been collecting information on language development and word formation, pronunciation drift and grammar evolution, cultural linguistic adjustments and political manipulations of discourse for many years. I’m about ready to write that novel… So far, I have written a micro short story that was produced into a radio play by 600 Second Saga: “Word Magic” (https://interfaces.com/blog/2018/08/word-magic-narrated-by-mariah-avix-of-600-second-saga/).
And just as I’ve decided that it was time to pen that novel, another short story came out! This one incorporated language learning, artificial intelligence, and multiple personality disorder…of an onboard computer navigation system. Yep, it took me by surprise, but it turned out to be a good story…novella. I hope to release it in some form soon.
I’ve started on my word magic novel again…but got stuck in another novella (or is it a novel? Not sure yet.) This one is about sacrifice. What would one give up to be able to NOT have a disabling medical condition? It’s something strange and spooky, and it smells like dead leaves, and feels a little like “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Subconscious works in mysterious ways.
This brings me back to “Harvest” and “God of Small Affairs”—my two novels that came out as bookends to 2019 summer. “Harvest” is hard science fiction. “Hard” doesn’t mean it is hard to read or understand, just that it has a lot of fun (and accurate) science in addition to a great story. It’s a story of first contact with an alien civilization. I wanted to know what it would really be like if we came across another intelligence? I think I’ve learned a lot… The other story, “God of Small Affairs”, feels like a mirror image to “Harvest.” It’s a magical realism narrative—the story takes place in the here and now and deals with the world that we are all very familiar with…except that in this world, gods live among their people. One could simply walk up to a god and ask him or her questions, petition for a favor, or simply talk. What would that kind of world be like? What would those gods be like? Would the people they serve be strangely unable to grow up and take responsibility for making important decisions? Both stories deal with the rise of man on our planet, both focus on normal individuals pushed into difficult circumstances, and yet… It was very interesting to write these stories back to back. I wonder what it would feel like to read them this way as well? Somehow, these two stories feel stronger together. But after I’m done with writing them, it is up to the readers to discover them and love them. If I’m the mother of stories, the readers are their other parent, the one that nourishes them and gives them a future.
So happy reading! And thank you for reading!
“Harvest” is a story of first contact. 30,000-year-old alien artifact is found on one of the moons of Saturn, buried in the ancient ice. This means that back when humans didn’t even begin developing agriculture or domestication of animals or started using symbols to keep track of ideas or to send messages to each other; before the days of making clay pots and weaving baskets; back when we haven’t even discovered the Americas; in the deep time before the dawn of our civilization (night time, really), some aliens were already advanced enough to send a craft across the trillions and trillions of miles of space to our home star system. Why did they come? What do they want?
I became interested in the idea of galaxy’s first star-fairing civilization a few years back. I wanted to use all of the science I knew to extrapolate the implications of being the first intelligence and the first civilization and then the first space-fairing culture to arise in the Milky Way. There had to be the THE first in our galaxy. What if it is NOT us? How would we, humans, handle first contact with such people? Would it go well for us? Would it be like “Star Trek?” I had a feeling that it might not really play out that way…
The story of Vars, a professor of socio-biology who studies human origins and civilizations, came from my exploration on these ideas. I wanted her—a “soft” scientist—to try to solve the puzzle of communicating with someone very different from us, whose motivations we simply don’t understand. For when the time comes, it won’t be the physicists and mathematicians who will be on the forefront of interfacing with aliens. It will be the diplomats, sociologists, linguists, and lawyers! (perhaps teachers…)
I’ve made a little video introduction to “Harvest”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfJnQhQkDCo
“Harvest” is fully-illustrated—why do only kids get to have pictures in their books? Below is a small collection of images from this book.
“Harvest” was published in May, 2019, after almost two years of writing and editing and illustration (and a few addition years of research). It got three 5-star reviews from ReadersFavorite and has been entered into a few completions.
5-stars: “[T]he story is
very believable and that made it a tad bit scary. This could be where we are
headed and what our future could hold. The dialogues were amazing, the plot was
fast paced and the characters were given enough page space to evolve and
develop on their own. Nothing was rushed, everything unfolded as it should…
Interesting and very entertaining.” — Readers’ Favorite
5-stars: “This novel is a deep and meaningful exploration of the complexities regarding the origins of the human race as well as the intentions of an alien species.” — Readers’ Favorite
5-stars: “Author Olga Werby writes with excellent pacing to deliver a detailed and engagingly deep science fiction plot as well as a fast and action-fuelled novel that keeps the reader wanting to turn pages. Never too bogged down by the details, gradual exposition and well-crafted character development lead us to the secret origins of both Vars and Matteo as they uncover conspiracies and secrets that humanity would never be able to dream of in their society. I really enjoyed the realism of this far future, where the new tech and alien culture are drawn from our own influences, making them more relatable and often frighteningly realistic and threatening on the page. Overall, Harvest makes compelling reading for its conceptual prowess, strong plot and commitment to character development.” — Readers’ Favorite
A bit about me:
I write in the genres of sci-fi and magical realism. My background is in astrophysics and psychology. Granted, it’s not a very likely combination for a career…a regular career. But it is perfect for a writer!
I’ve always hoped to live long enough to see the day when humans fully dedicate themselves to space exploration…at least to exploring our Solar System. I’ve studied math and astrophysics in college…went on to get a doctorate… But I’ve come to realize that one of the best ways that I can “push” for space exploration in particular and science in general is by writing stories full of science! So I write what-if scenarios and embed as much real science as I can into a story that is gripping enough to get the attention of just the right type of audience. My book, “Harvest,” deals with first contact. I use this setup to discuss conditions necessary not only for life to develop, but for advanced civilizations to rise and colonize space.
Thank you again!
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Olga Werby, Ed.D., has a Doctorate from U.C. Berkeley with a focus on designing online learning experiences. She has a Master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley in Education of Math, Science, and Technology. She has been creating computer-based projects since 1981 with organizations such as NASA (where she worked on the Pioneer Venus project), Addison-Wesley, and the Princeton Review. Olga has a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Astrophysics from Columbia University. She became an accidental science fiction indie writer about a decade ago, with her first book, “Suddenly Paris,” which was based on then fairly novel idea of virtual universes. Her next story, “The FATOFF Conspiracy,” was a horror story about fat, government bureaucracy, and body image. She writes about characters that rarely get represented in science fiction stories — homeless kids, refugees, handicapped, autistic individuals — the social underdogs of our world. Her stories are based in real science, which is admittedly stretched to the very limit of possible. She has published almost a dozen fiction books to date and has won many awards for her writings. Her short fiction has been featured in several issues of “Alien Dimensions Magazine,” “600 second saga,” “Graveyard Girls,” “Kyanite Press’ Fables and Fairy Tales,” “The Carmen Online Theater Group’s Chronicles of Terror,” with many more stories freely available on her blog, Interfaces.com.
Selected Book Links on Amazon:
“Becoming Animals”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078P6BB6K/
“Suddenly, Paris”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014OM5158/
“The FATOFF Conspiracy”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014S0W4WO/
“Twin Time”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LZM578L/
“Lizard Girl & Ghost: The Chronicles of DaDA Immortals”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FBR7Q1T/
“Coding Peter”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LFP45WC/
“Fresh Seed”: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FFDZNYB/
Olga Werby will be awarding 2 books to a randomly drawn commenter (LIZARD GIRL AND GHOST and SUDDENLY, PARIS) via rafflecopter during the tour.