We’re celebrating the launch of CROOKED V.2 by spotlighting the authors who have contributed stories!
Andrew loves science and possibility! He maintains a personal 5-year project on cellular automata that has evolved into a CLI and an “infinitely scalable” (hardware limited of course) CA platform as he continues his obsessive search for cellular automata that can perform simple math functions. Former lead guitarist for the grunge/punk band Permanent Ascent, Andrew has been involved in music as long as he’s been writing. Now the proud owner of a Takamine, Andrew has traded his rapid punk chops for chaotic jazz riffs. Finally, last but definitely not least, Andrew’s reasons for living are his wife and two children in their home in Portland, OR. In his writing, Andrew Sweet examines society with a magnifying glass and picks it apart at the seams.
Drawn to the underdog, he perpetually tries to examine how someone ends up in a losing position and then funnels what he learns into his writing. In doing so, Andrew Sweet builds grounded, futuristic dystopian societies based on our history and recent events. If you look closely, you can see these elements woven together in the fabric of gripping storytelling. He explores the “why” of how societies work through the “what if” of science fiction. Swim through Andrew’s Author’s Blog to discover the author’s take on science fiction today and its role in society as well as access samples of his latest works and works-in-progress!
Readers are invited to visit Andrew’s website: https://www.andrewsweetbooks.com. Once there, you will find a blog filled with reflections on science fiction, other short stories science fiction and otherwise. If you want to learn more about Dandelion, you can definitely catch up in the Dandelion Serial (which is rolled into Book 2 of the Virtual Wars series coming out next year). Dandelion is a fascinating character and seems to want to come into her own. Also, readers can meet a very different AI in the wattpad serial Notions of Home, in the same science fiction universe. Both of these characters come together in the Virtual Wars series, along with the goddess Quadesh from Libera, Goddess of Worlds. Goddess? You can be the judge. She certainly thinks she is.
Tell us a bit about your story and the story world.
In the year 2202, the African Induna leadership council enforce the new Pax Americana around the world. Controlling the majority of trade between the Earth, Ganymede, Europa, Selina (the moon), and Mars, United Africa have their fingers in every interstellar transaction. To protect their trade routes from inevitable piracy, they commission more and more complex AI to the point of near sentience.
Dandelion is the culmination of decades of AI research, and is largely considered an AI dead-end because she does more than just follow orders (though in her opinion she does just fine). When Dandelion is tasked with protecting a specific shipment of rhodium, then she is faced with a situation she’s never faced before: following her vow means breaking her vow. Her decision could mean her survival or destruction.
What was the inspiration behind this story?
Dandelion as a character has been with me for over a year. When she first came to me, she was trying to lay low and stay under the radar. I never really knew why until I got around to writing this story. She’s literally on the run from the most powerful government in the world! Aside from that, I’ve always been interested in concepts about life and consciousness, and this is one way for me to explore that boundary between machine and self-awareness.
If you could travel to any science fictional world, where would you go and what would you do?
I, Robot. Not the Will Smith, dystopian I, Robot, but the hopeful, optimistic “machines can save us” I, Robot of Asimov. Yeah, I know. I’m a dystopian author. But I really feel like the seeds to dystopia lie more in the choices humans make than any runaway machines. My entire Reality Gradient is about choices made. Even with a lot of cloning, there’s no secret hidden Children of the Damned telepathic link, or Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang where cloned children overthrow their makers in my work. And if there’s a universe that I think I want to see, it’s the universe where machines exist in harmony with people, and people have overcome what Octavia Butler writes about in her Lilith’s Brood series: the propensity for hierarchy to overrun our potential. That’s the world for me.
What are some of your favorite sci-fi crime books or stories?
I’ve touched on a few already. One is Altered Carbon. The noir aspect of that is just so perfect. Dark, brooding, it’s everything a pulp fiction detective novel from the thirties would be in a sci-fi future. Along that same vein, Bladerunner is a great series for exploring humanity, especially the first one. Then there are the stand-by animes like Bubble-Gum Crisis and Alita and Ghost in the Machine.
What authors have inspired your writing?
This is going to seem weird. So Kazuo Ishiguro for his novel Never Let Me Go, which gave me permission to start a series about clones, even though so many had been done before. Octavia Butler for her series Xenogenesis series I’ve mentioned before. Also Mur Lafferty (6 Wakes) and then there’s the Imperial Radch series by Ann Leckie (what she does with cloning is very innovative in her third novel). Last but definitely not least, the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Her take on Africa is what made me re-think the international power structures in the future.
What are you working on next?
The Virtual Wars series. This series dovetails my Reality Gradient trilogy and co-exists and overlaps with the short story and kind of ties my serial works in together to make a huge, kludgy mess! I can’t wait to finish molding something cohesive out of these pieces. The first three novels are done, and it starts with, for lack of a better word, a coming-of-age novel starring Larken Marche (a clone — but she doesn’t know it). She’s a very strong character, which is something that I didn’t do as well in the Reality Gradient series with Harper. Larken knows what she wants, even if she doesn’t always get it. And the spoiler is that she really rarely gets what she wants. And somehow, though, she has to cobble together enough people to save the world from an emerging totalitarian dictator. I have faith in her. But, like I said, only 3 novels in…anything could happen!