This week’s Prophet of Doom boasts a unique brand of Apocalyptic flair. Combining the best of science fiction and crime fiction, Greg Dragon creates novels that unfold with suspense, wonder and good-old fashioned dystopian dread. (Links in the descriptions may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)
For the uninitiated, The Judas Cypher (the first in the Synth Crisis series) may be the best place to start. It explodes with pessimistic noir like the bastard offspring of Phillip K. and Raymond Chandler. Another good choice for a Greg Dragon gateway would be his latest release, Neon Eclipse.
Copper: Your books have a very cinematic quality to them. If the Judas Cypher were adapted into a film, who do you see playing the lead role of Dhata Mays?
Greg: Wow, I’ve never thought about this. Dhata is an imposing figure, a little over 6ft in height, and about 230lbs of augmented, middle-aged power, so the closest in look, given that and him being a close-shaven African American male, I would go with McKinley Belcher or Mustafa Shakir. They have the look I had in my mind’s eye when I imagined my detective. Mike Colter could pull it off, Jamie Hector is always playing a detective now, and we’ve seen him cold in The Wire. Dhata embodies both extremes. All this to say, whoever played him would have to toe the balance between cold-blooded and suave. Everyone I mentioned has done it in their roles; that’s why I mention them. Black leading man is a limited, coveted role in Hollywood. It’s the same two to three guys in everything for a short period, so if the decision were mine, The Judas Cypher would be a vehicle to promote the next Chadwick Boseman, someone unknown who could use Dhata to show the world their greatness.
Copper: Without giving too much away, the Judas Cypher has ‘fake human’ characters known as synths. The book seems to express a concern for authenticity in human beings in the technology driven future. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the ability of humans to survive the onslaught of technology?
Greg: I believe Science Fiction has always been a lens into the future, sometimes extreme, sometimes frighteningly precise. People love to cite books like 1984 for this type of thing, but we had Star Trek, where communicators were “futuristic” until smartphones became a thing. Artificial people are already here, they aren’t yet as sophisticated as Dhata’s synths or Asimov’s robots, but technology doesn’t move at a set pace. It accelerates with every discovery. Synths will be here before we know it, and like everything else strange or outside our understanding and control, we will try to destroy them, destroy their creators, and fight the typhoon with our tiny human shields. It’s inevitable. Will it be the fall of humanity like the Matrix or I-Robot? Who knows? Will we find a way to achieve a singularity, where like in The Judas Cypher, those artificial children of ours fix enough of our world to bring in the next step in evolution? Wouldn’t that be nice? It’s an optimistic fantasy until it isn’t. I can’t answer one way or another.
Ultimately it won’t be up to us, so that is my answer. When the AI starts building the AI and removing flaws to become something close to sentient, it will be our judge. Now, with us as the parents, which way will it go? Some of us form habits to be the opposite of our parents, and others become their parents. Schrödinger’s AI or something like that. Hopefully, this “Arch Brain” will choose to be nothing like mommy and daddy.
Copper: When discussing writing on your blog, you’ve talked about the need for discipline. What’s your advice for maintaining discipline and focus in a world of social media bells and whistles?
Greg: When you’re in the act of writing, think about your environment, your headspace, and the time. We’re creatures of habit, so if there are things you can replicate in your writing habits, continue to do them, and try to make writing as much a part of your day as eating and sleeping. Discipline, to me, is being serious enough about your writing that it becomes a part of your daily life, as much as watching a show on Netflix, scrolling Reddit, or playing a video game. These are all things we habitually do, so why not write? Are you being honest with yourself, or is it fear? Is it fear of rejection, fear of people laughing at your prose, fear of being mediocre? What is it?
Publishing can be intimidating. There’s no shortage of comments online from anonymous people who speak in absolutes, tearing down popular books, shouting out “rules,” and all sorts of nastiness. It can stunt your creativity when you feel maligned and will hamper you if you let it. I’m not against brainlessly surfing writing forums and social media, but many times they could be the source of you not making that first step. Think about it.
Whenever I get writer’s block or hemming and hawing, I have learned to sit back and consider why I’m in my way of getting my word count accomplished. Most of the time, it’s something unrelated, hampering my confidence, so I focus on that and how I can get past it to get back to writing. There is no easy way to make writing a habit, but being honest about what’s making you stop may help you get past it. Your mileage may vary.
Copper: And finally, the most important apocalypse-related question: what one song would you need to survive the apocalypse to help maintain your sanity?
Greg: Mobb Deep – Shook Ones, Pt. II. If I were the last survivor inside a bunker with limited ammunition, I’d imagine this song would charge me enough to do alright against the zombies or rival camp. Let’s go.