Friday, February 29, 2008

Lightning Days by Colin Harvey

Why did you chose that particular setting?
First of all, the setting for Lightning Days is plural -- settings. I suppose in its most general term, its Earth, all around the world, but there are perhaps a dozen or so alternate Earths, some so similar as ours as to indistinguishable, some almost like other worlds, reflecting the diversity of parallel universes.

What does the setting add to the story?
The many different settings give it an epic feel, which was what I wanted, and the alternate Earths allowed me to tell the evolution of the Thals from the sort of sword-and-sorcery feel of the ‘Warriors’ story to a current day world, but inhabited by a branch of Neanderthals who have become more human, as the universe applies a conservation of divergence.
Most parallel worlds stories tell of things being very different from some very small event, such as the film The Sound of Thunder, whereby everything changes because you’ve stepped on a butterfly millions of years ago. But there is a counter-theory, that if Hitler were to die as a child, someone else would come along and run Germany in the same way. It’s a sort of Historical Inevitability.
I wanted both theories in the same book!

Could you write the same story in a different setting?
It would be a very different story; if you set it on another world, it would just be Stargate by any other name. Similarly, remove the parallel worlds concept and have alien invaders, and you have standard SF.
Did you use a real place as a basis for your setting?
A lot of real places; the first part takes place in Afghanistan, and I read several books by British correspondents -- John Snow’s Shooting The Past and several of John Simpson’s books -- to get a feel for the conflict as it was unfolding (I started Lightning Days as the Allies went into Afghanistan the first time, and finished it as we were hunting Saddam after the fall of Iraq) and googled the terrain as much as I could; I contacted the Meteorological Society and several Antarctic-based scientists to get a feel for the Mawson’s Base sequence. Plus there were sequences in California , Florida and Bangladesh .

Or, did you create the setting from scratch?
The Thal sequences I wrote from scratch, although the three early ones were based on Asia, the Greek Islands and Spain , but the last two just went off into The Wild Blue Yonder, onto an alternate Earth where an arboreal semi-amphibious version of humanity had evolved, and the last, where the Thals had a whole Commonwealth of alternate Earths.
Tell us some specific details about your setting. What would we see? What sort of people are there? If we were traveling to your setting, what should we bring with us? For visitors, what do they need to know to visit your setting?
In some places, there is huge volcanic activity, so think of One Million BC, but without Raquel Welch! In others there are crystalline deserts, world-spanning forests and walled cities surrounded by jungles. And you wouldn’t go this setting, it’s a war-zone… J

Is there anything else about your setting that we need to know? Feel free to share.
There were lots of bits that I had to cut; a sequence in Iceland , one in Ireland , and one that made it into a short story that was too good to lose!

Please provide your website link.

What is the link to buy your book?
As well as the link above, you can get an electronic version at fictionwise:
Novels from Swimming Kangaroo Books:
Lightning Days -- SF, Finalist for the USA Book News Awards
The Silk Palace -- "compelling" Library Journal
"Intrigues, betrayals, murders, love affairs, transformations, and
revelations," Bruce Boston, author of The Guardener's Tale