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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

GUEST POST: Robert Brockway: Author of The Unnoticeables




Visit Robert Brockway's Website Here
Watch the Book Trailer for The Unnoticeables Here



Fantasy Book Critic is pleased to welcome Robert Brockway. Robert is a Senior Editor and columnist for Cracked.com and is the author of the latest urban fantasy/horror novel, The Unnoticeables. The Unnoticeables was released by Tor on July 7, 2015.

Robert Brockway has stopped by to talk about his love of sci-fi/fantasy and his latest book. 

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My favorite part of sci-fi/fantasy is the world-building. I love coming up with premises and extrapolating out the rules of that world, its environments and creatures. It’s great fun.

If you’re lucky, you might even figure out a good story to tell in that world.

If you’re unlucky, somebody will then come along and ask you to explain it.

I wrote a book called The Unnoticeables — a weird genre mash-up somewhere between horror, sci-fi, and urban fantasy - and for some reason people keep asking me what it’s about. Did you know they do that, when you write a book?

If I had known, I would’ve written a book about divorce, or battleships, or something else that could be explained away in a word or two.

Instead I wrote this strange trilogy about angels, monsters, faceless kids, punk rockers, and stuntwomen that spans decades and jumps back and forth in time. I really screwed myself here.

Honestly, it all went awry from the central premise, which started like this: There’s a theory that everything can be described with sufficiently complex numbers. Given enough space and time, you could map every particle in the universe — assign it a space on a grid, describe its functions, behaviors, composition, etc. — and if you can do that, well, then everything is basically just numbers, right?

Oof, already you see the problem.

Let’s try again: There’s a thought experiment which says that everything that could possibly exist is described within pi. Pi is, as far as we know it, a non-repeating infinite number. Since it goes on forever without reliably repeating itself, somewhere in that string of numbers there’s eventually going to be a bit that describes something real. Let’s say it describes a small rock. In a non-repeating infinite number there will be a string of digits that describes the shape of the rock, the weight, how old it is, etc. Eventually, because we’re talking about infinity here, there will be a string of numbers that describes that rock and the beach it sits on — how many grains of sand, their relative positions to one another, the strength of the waves. And so forth. Carry that thought far enough, and you’ll come across a string of numbers that describes that rock, that beach, and you, stubbing your toe on it - the number of cells in your body, the series in which your neurons fire to form your thoughts, the wrinkles at the corners of your eyes, the intensity and volume at which you screamed when you kicked this stupid pebble.

Somewhere in pi, our entire universe is mapped out. Not only that, but every possible universe is described as well — infinity is infinite, after all.

Yeah, I know. My next book is going to be about ‘a down on his luck airline pilot trying to find love’ or something.

Working from the premise that the universe and everything in it can be described mathematically, I came to the conclusion that, for most things, there’s probably a simpler way to express those numbers. There are probably bits that cancel each other out, more efficient algorithms that could model the same behaviors, redundancies in the code. In short, everything is a math problem.

What if something could solve it?

That’s how I got my villains: things my characters call angels — bright balls of light that sound like screaming static and exist solely to maintain the purity of the universe. They’re problem solvers. And the problems they’re solving are human beings.

Hopefully you followed my thought process down the rabbit hole far enough to see how I came up with this world. But then there was the whole mess of coming up with characters. For that, I had to think about who would hate this premise the most: Who is least amenable to a universe where we’re all just numbers, waiting to be neatly solved and filed away? I came up with two wildly different types of people united by a shared concept: Punk rockers, and aspiring actresses. Punks despise the idea of conformity, of doing what you’re told just because you’re told to it. Aspiring actresses, by their very nature, have to believe  that they’re so inherently talented and special that they can make it in a field where literally millions are trying and failing every day. Despite how awkward they would both find each other’s company, those two types of people share one defining character trait: They love and treasure individuality.

That all follows logically, right? The premise, the world, the monsters, the characters, the conflict — it all just sort of fits together. I was confident of that, in writing the book. Perhaps too confident. Because it all came crashing down the moment somebody asked me the big, impossible question:

“In one sentence, describe your book.”

If you figure out how to do that, email me. I’ll buy you a coke. 

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 More about The Unnoticeables 

There are angels, and they are not beneficent or loving. But they do watch over us. They watch our lives unfold, analyzing us for repeating patterns and redundancies. When they find them, the angels simplify those patterns, they remove the redundancies, and the problem that is you gets solved.

Carey doesn’t much like that idea. As a punk living in New York City, 1977, Carey is sick and tired of watching the strange kids with the unnoticeable faces abduct his friends. He doesn’t care about the rumors of tarmonsters in the sewers, or unkillable psychopaths invading the punk scene—all he wants is drink cheap beer and dispense asskickings.

Kaitlyn isn’t sure what she’s doing with her life. She came to Hollywood in 2013 to be a stunt woman, but last night a former teen heartthrob tried to eat her, her best friend has just gone missing, and there’s an angel outside her apartment.

Whatever she plans on doing with her life, it should probably happen in the few remaining minutes she has left of it.

There are angels. There are demons. They are the same thing. It’s up to Carey and Kaitlyn to stop them. The survival of the human race is in their hands.

We are, all of us, well and truly screwed.
 

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