Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and seventy-fourth, is of science fiction and fantasy author Tim Parise. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Tim Parise was born on the island of Maui, but grew up mostly in Colorado and Montana before going off to North Dakota for college, where he trained as a pilot and later studied history. His writing first appeared in print when he was six years old, and since then he has contributed to a number of local papers and magazines. He finally came back to the Hawaiian islands five years ago and started writing science fiction and fantasy full-time.
So far Tim has completed four novels and a pamphlet on political science, which have appeared in over a dozen different countries, plus or minus a micronation or two. He is currently working on a fifth novel about the gay rights movement in the United States and the Arab Spring in Bahrain, and a nonfiction book on the history of Hawaii.
His hobbies include anything involving ink on a page, singing Henry Purcell, Linux, photography, and trying to figure out how he’s ever going to trek the Silk Road with Asia divided up into so many separate countries nowadays.
And now from the author himself:
Time fascinates me. I don’t mean the concept of time. I mean in the sense that time is a real, physical object you can reach out and play with. Perhaps I’m unduly influenced by Isaac Asimov in this regard, although I don’t agree with his theory that time possesses inertia. But Hari Seldon is a hero of mine. To do one small thing, to take one minor action, and then to see that action multiply itself down the decades and centuries to come until it can turn even humanity in its course – that’s my goal and my ambition for my writing. All a book has to do is fall into the hands of the right person in a dusty old bookstore someday, and if the idea it carries is powerful enough, it can change how that person reacts and pass that effect on to others. The reader doesn’t have to fall in love with the idea. It just has to impact his brain in some way so as to influence his behavior.
The irony here is that for a number of years I objected to stories that had any kind of a point at all. I wanted entertainment in my books, rather than some grand idea that the author was trying to put across while getting under my guard with lush locations and thrilling spectacles. I’m not quite sure when I stopped thinking that way. It might have been when I first came across science fiction that had been written later than Jules Verne’s demise – I think When Worlds Collide was my first exposure to a more modern example of the genre. All good science fiction is really about ideas. The technology and planets and alien races are just accessories – viewport dressing, if you will.
And once I figured that out, I realized that there were actually a lot of ideas I wanted to write about. Things that seemed so obvious to me but that no one else had apparently noticed. Things like the structure of the universe and the fallacy that the speed of light is an upper limit on motion within it. How to get into orbit and move on to Mars and stay there. A cure for AIDS and how to distribute it in a way that would really screw over those who would normally be exploiting it. How a group of people with an unusual set of ethics would go about making a living off their enemies. The definition of a human being. The presence of too many human beings on one planet. The factory that sits in the middle of the island I live on and how its builders reshaped an entire ecosystem to make a profit. Apathy. Contentment. Organization. Individuality. And the timestream, of course.
In running after all these ideas, I ended up leaving science fiction behind to some degree. Only two of the five books I’ve written so far can be strictly considered science fiction (one space opera and one alternate history). The others oscillate vaguely among the fantasy, thriller, allegory, action and satire categories. They’re stories first, without being specific kinds of stories. There’s technology in them all, but not high technology. I like clever new devices only if they’re minimalist. If they require a corporate effort or twenty different iterations of increasingly complex machinery to produce, I’m not interested. My focus is on what people do, not what they do it with, so the science aspect of my writing is sometimes minimized.
My characters, like my gadgets, tend to be stand-alone creations. They treat group activities like religion and government with quiet, amused contempt and usually find a way to bypass them. Sometimes they exploit these groups. Occasionally they pull them to bits purely for the fun of it. They never take themselves too seriously, and they’re rarely at a loss for a comeback. I’m afraid they’re also often insubstantial, in the sense that they’re little more than logic engines built up out of organic compounds.
Logic. That’s another of my recurring themes. I was bitten by Euclidean geometry as a teenager and ever since then deductive reasoning has seeped into everything I’ve written. I like using the neat format of the proof to trap an unsympathetic character in an intellectual impasse. After all, if they believe in something, they’re asking for it. Only a weak mind needs a crutch in the form of a fixed opinion. A strong mind can face uncertainty equipped with reason and be happy. But strong minds are uncommon in modern literature. Most characters in fiction today, even the hardcore cops in the crime novels – especially the hardcore cops in the crime novels, as a matter of fact – are running from some inner demon or pursuing some sort of closure, and floundering around in bleak uncertainty for three or four hundred pages while they work on it. What happened to building a story around central figures who are calm, assured, far-sighted, gently humorous?
At some point in the past century, it became fashionable to let misfiring neurons in a character’s brain drive the plot. Not my style at all. When I write, the people who are set in their ways and emotionally attached to certain presumed absolutes lose out. The ones who can reason in a vacuum, as if they were visitors in a ship floating twenty thousand miles above Earth, triumph. There is a strong correlation between the ability to bend the world to your will and the ability to use abstract reasoning.
One final note. My stories usually involve airplanes in some way. I’m very fond of airplanes.
Morgen: Ew. Planes and I don’t get on, which is a shame, but I’m the same with boats etc. Always have been. Thank you for joining me today, Tim. My editor (originally from California) has moved to Hawaii, maybe you’ll bump into her one day. 🙂
You can find more about Tim and his writing via…
- Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/parise
- Blog: http://librodellatutto.wordpress.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/tim.parise.author
- Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/author/show/7043676.Tim_Parise
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