Mindclone is a book of ideas, using the concept of uploading as the key to unlocking the many mysteries of who we are as humans. Are we just the consciousness with which we view the world? Or is there more to being human than just our thoughts, dreams, longings, fears and blind spots? The novel explores a plausible technology for achieving the upload, but beyond that, it explores human relationships in all their many dimensions. The main character, Marc Gregorio, is endlessly curious about all things scientific and technological. He makes his living writing about the many topics under that rubric, in effect translating the jargon into readable English for readers interested in all those things but who lack the educational depth to fully understand what the scientists and inventors are up to. I am grateful to Author’s Lounge for offering me this opportunity to spout off about my favorite novel!
As a writer, I felt it was important to show Marc in full: his strengths and weaknesses, his intelligence and his ignorance, his biases, his blind spots, his ego, his temptations, and especially his emotional responses to meeting a new girlfriend and his fears that their relationship will fail as all his previous ones did.
And because his uploading succeeded in creating his digital counterpart, his Mindclone, I also felt it was important to communicate to the reader what it would be like to be a digital entity whose existence was limited to a computer tower and the paltry inputs of video cameras for eyes and microphones for his ears. I tried to show his neediness by the way he reaches out to Marc, his “donor,” Marc’s new girlfriend, the scientists and technicians who developed the ability to scan and upload the complete connectome of the human donor, and perhaps other people that he could reach out to over the internet. He names himself Adam, by the way.
It was also important to show the full humanity of that girlfriend, Molly Schaeffer, with her gifts and her fears, her strengths and weaknesses, her secret shame and her resistance to falling in love with someone so obviously smitten with her.
Beyond the characters, of course, there’s the plot that involves a powerful industrialist who wants to control the technology for his own ends, and will stop at nothing to gain that control. He also has a more personal reason for wanting the technology: his wife is dying and he wants to preserve her mind and her spirit. As to her soul, he has doubts about that possibility.
And I guess finally, I needed to show the effects of this new technology on the world at large, including some of the benefits of having a digital watchdog, as it were, overseeing all the nefarious activity that takes place on the web–and the Dark Web. Once the laboratory is satisfied it understands how the technology works and has confidence that it can be repeated, they choose to go public by having Marc and Adam appear on the long-running TV show, 60 Minutes.
As to what inspired me, I suppose it was curiosity informed by a lot of background reading, especially the writings of Ray Kurzweil. But there’s a whole list of books I read that helped me gain an understanding of the big picture and the forces at work in a world that has advanced to the point of “the Singularity.” That list is posted on my Facebook page.
One other characteristic of Mindclone that differs from the vast majority of science fiction is that it was written by an optimist who sees the good side of future science. Not every conceivable future is a dystopia!
When asked, Who are you hoping will read your book? My answer has to include inquisitive teens as well as adults of all ages who still hang onto their youthful curiosity and are willing to explore the many what-ifs that life presents. Believe it or not, there are people who are lifelong fans of science fiction!
The rewards such readers get by reading Mindclone is the opening of their minds to possibilities they perhaps had never considered before. It also gives them the joy of seeing humans (and digital entities) growing and becoming more fully human.
I am pleased to report that Mindclone has been translated into Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese. (The latter two are in the final approval stage and are not yet available, but will be soon.) It’s also available as an Audiobook, narrated by the great Clifton Satterfield.
I had hoped to write a sequel to Mindclone, but it looks like that won’t be happening any time soon. However, I can strongly recommend the TV series, Upload. It’s a brilliant look at what happens to the souls of people uploaded into a cyber world dominated by greedy corporations and nasty survivors of the, er, Uploaded.
In addition to Mindclone, I have three published short stories, all of which are also available as Audiobooks. Here’s a link to my Author Page on Amazon.
I do have other novels waiting for publication, including one that involves Cryo-Preservation, giving readers a realistic look at one possible future.
As some readers might guess from certain passages in Mindclone, I came from the world of advertising. One of the people in my book is an ad man. He’s a minor character, but he was instrumental in gaining funding for the laboratory that produced that first Mindclone.
As to how I fill my time these days, I continue to write and revise and pitch my finished novels to agents. Hopefully, you’ll soon hear more from me!