Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unselfish Gene by Robert Burns

It's love and terrorism in the time of cholera. In the mid-21st century, a form of bird flu has killed billions and turned most of the rest into mindless, stumbling zombie-like invalids. The few humans who had immunity now face the threat of a comet on a collision course with Earth. Settlers from the Moon colony were spared the disease, but face their own threats to survival: radiation-induced mental illness, a limited gene pool and shrinking resources. The Moon settlers have launched a last-ditch mission to Earth to salvage human DNA and other crucial materials ... before the comet strikes. The salvage crew find the biggest threat to the mission is neither the zombies or the comet, but insanity within their own ranks.

Interview with Robert Burns:

Why did you write this book?

Well, first I believe writing to be an obsessive compulsive disorder, that is a disease of the mind. Why else would I keep writing these things for little to no money? But Unselfish Gene was an attempt to write "normal" science fiction. I really tried to write an ordinary space opera, as these things tend to be selling. My other books, reject by too, too many agents and publishing houses are farther out. Unselfish was targeted at a more conservative publishing industry. I think I'm just not wired to do conservation, normal sci-fi.

What was your favorite part to write?

The love scenes, actually, and some of the scenes that examine the effect technology and environment have on religion and other cultural aspects. I just put in the violence and zombies because that's what seems to be what the market is calling for.

What was hardest to write?

The middle is always the hardest part to write for me. That's where it's all too easy to get off track and loose complete control of the novel. Some loss of control is good. It is those "where's this going" places that creativity is forced out of its hiding place.

What are your hopes for this book?

I hope readers get a book they can't put down. I hope they get pleasure from reading the Unselfish Gene.

What's next?

I'm alternating between working on a sequel to Unselfish, tentatively titled "Clear Mind" but which I think of as "Buddhists in Space," and the third novel of my occult sci-fi trilogy, Awakening of an Alien God. When I'm in an editing mode, I review changes made to Shibboleth, a novel about mind viruses (memes) that I wrote more than 25 years ago.

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