Scifipulse recently caught up with Mark Everglade he is the author of Hemispheres, a dystopian cyberpunk novel, as well as several cyberpunk short stories. Additionally, Mark holds a Master’s of Science in Sociological Conflict Theory. And is a contributor to World Cyberpunk Day. During this interview Mark discusses his upcoming novels Inertia and Song of Kitaba. As well as his advice for aspiring writers.
SFP: What made you want to be a writer?
Mark Everglade: After reading books like Snow Crash and Pattern Recognition, I knew I had to be a writer. It’s the ultimate escape, the ultimate drug, but with cyberpunk it’s more than that – it’s a chance to pass your values on to the next generations as a wake-up call, for they will have to be eternally vigilant and courageous to maintain the freedoms they currently enjoy.
SFP: How do you think that cyberpunk has influenced mainstream sci-fi like Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who?
Mark Everglade: Cyberpunk was reacting against the mainstream science fiction when it started in the 80’s. The Golden Age of sci-fi literature had ended and society was changing. In psychology, the cognitive revolution was occurring, while the development of home computers and eventually the internet was propelling us into the Digital Age. Cyberpunk reflected this new zeitgeist by blending neuroscience with computers.
Technology wasn’t all that was changing in the early 80’s though. The recent end of the Vietnam War and the ongoing Cold War influenced the fiction, along with all the protesting and fear-mongering that went along with them. Other countries like Japan were competing with the economic primacy of the United States, and inequality was increasing. The world was becoming more globalized and you can see this reflected early in Neuromancer where in one paragraph you have Japanese beer, Russian dental work, and an African all in the same bar:
“Ratz was tending bar, his prosthetic arm jerking monotonously as he filled a tray of glasses with draft Kirin. He saw Case and smiled, his teeth a webwork of East European steel and brown decay. Case found a place at the bar, between the unlikely tan on one of Lonny Zone’s whores and the crisp naval uniform of a tall African whose cheekbones were ridged with precise rows of tribal scars.”
—William Gibson, Neuromancer
Cyberpunk was replacing the heroes like Luke Skywalker with antiheroes who benefited the world as a byproduct of their own self-interest, which usually revolved around surviving in a dystopian society under corporate control.
In modern, popular series, we do see many cyberpunk hallmarks such as cybernetic enhancements, virtual and augmented reality, and data espionage and hacking. What’s often missing in the mainstream stuff is the underlying message of inequality, corporate oppression, and resisting totalitarianism. That message becomes overly simplified if it’s spoken about at all.
SFP: I understand you have two new books coming out soon. Please can you tell us about them?
Mark Everglade: Certainly. I’m publishing two sci-fi novels through traditional-model presses this year. This Summer I’m releasing Inertia. It follows a geophysicist, Ash, who is trying to solve an ecological crisis as a planet spins out of control, uncovering a government conspiracy to profit off the destruction. Teaming up with her father, legendary terraformer Severum Rivenshear, they must use the latest cybernetic enhancements to protect themselves. Hacking corporate networks lets them follow the money trail, but the hunters become the hunted when the fight goes from cyberspace to face-to-face.
Later in the year, I’m releasing Song of Kitaba. Think about it, what if the government could strip your deepest secrets straight from your head, but you were prohibited from even writing? Kitaba Mahahara is a traditional bard who is caught between two civilizations, one without self-expression, and one forced to reveal everything through surveillance. Torn between the ancient and modern worlds, she must pave a new way for human freedom by uniting people across all walks of life, but the Enforcers have eyes in every screen and her only allies are an elusive group of cybermonks who refuse to use weapons.
SFP: What for you are the five greatest sci-fi novels and why?
Mark Everglade: I prioritize fiction that challenges the status quo and motivates people to act in the world’s best interest. Based on this, I nominate:
1984 by George Orwell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Dune by Frank Herbert
Of these, We is the most overlooked, though it’s a masterpiece of proto-cyberpunk fiction.
SFP: Following on from that question, what writers are you inspired by?
Mark Everglade: Dr. Melissa Scott, author of Trouble and Her Friends and other books, inspires many of my virtual reality scenes — for no one writes them better. Otherwise, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, and Reza Negarestani come to mind immediately.
SFP: What do you think is the future of cyberpunk as a genre?
Mark Everglade: Cyberpunk will have to evolve to reflect our present day concerns rather than being a rehashing of the time period in which it began. That means it will need to tackle issues such as global warming. I think solarpunk is trying to carry that torch, but unfortunately it lacks any exemplary work to define it. One thing is clear, we will have to move beyond Gibson if there is to be any progress and return to the breadth of creativity the genre had in the 80’s.
SFP: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Mark Everglade: Writers are often quite introverted but you just can’t do it yourself. You must establish a strong peer group of social support to beta read your work and provide assistance along the way or the art, the marketing, and the reach will suffer. No matter how good a writer you are, you cannot possibly have the insights into your own writing that a dedicated group of scholarly authors and readers can have while seeing things from a fresh perspective.
SFP: And finally, what’s one story you would love to tell above all others?
Mark Everglade: I’d really like to do something mythpunk like Catherynne Valente has done, retelling fairy tales but placing them in virtual reality. When I find interesting books like hers, I review them on my website at www.markeverglade.com
Thank you for having me today!
Scifipulse would like to extend our most heartfelt thanks and warmest best wishes to Mark Everglade for so graciously taking the time to answer our questions.
Mark’s website: Cyberpunk Book and Media Reviews by Mark Everglade
His Twitter: @MarkEverglade
Check out our Mike Brooks interview here
Check out our Lauren Melissa interview here