Terry R. Hill
Good morning, Terry and welcome to Vision and Verse, the Place for Art and Authors. Thank you for being with us today, Terry. Your books sound exciting. And the fact that they are written by an NASA engineer gives them so much more credibility than those written by, oh, say a first grade teacher from Ohio. Promise me you will not read my books. Come back and see us when Book Three comes out. Now, can you tell us what you have written?
Third Exodus, and New Dawn (both of the sci-fi series “In the Days of Humans”)
What is your favorite genre to write?
Too hard to say. But I would have to say real Italian or Greek would have to be my favorites.
Tea or coffee?
Pizza or ice cream?
Wine or beer?
Where would you like to visit?
Favorite musical artist.
Impossible to say.
Do you listen to music when you write? What?
Yes, but it is entirely dependent on the scenes that I’m writing. It could be anything from classical to thrasher.
What makes Terry Hill laugh?
While I enjoy intellectual humor, being half British and raised around that culture, I enjoy a good go at dry humor. Of course since I’m male, I still enjoy the joke repertoire from Junior High.
Favorite work of art or sculpture.
I would have to say the great pyramids of Egypt. Largely they were for show and thus I consider them works of art. And they are my favorite, not because they are beautiful, but because they have inspired countless amounts of wonder, amazement and are the embodiment of early mathematics and herculean human feats (to mix cultural metaphors).
How old were you when you started writing?
Odds and ends when I was 19. First novel, 42.
Describe your perfect evening.
Sorry, that involves rather intimate details involving my wife.
Such a romantic you are! Where do you get your inspiration?
Largely from science news articles and random thoughts that manifest themselves during my commute to and from work.
What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I scan my list of scene writing prompts of my WIP and move to the next one that I’m inspired to tackle. There’s always at least one that I can work on.
Who is your favorite author?
I don’t know it is possible to pick just one. It is like asking which is my favorite flower, or which bird song do I like the most. Some of my favorites are Clark, Heinlein, Joel Rosenberg, Anne Rand, Octavia Butler, to name a few.
Best book you ever read.
See previous dilemma. My own? Can I say that?
Last book you read.
Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom
What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
That’s easy, a NASA Engineer. That’s how I spend my work days.
One of my original goals was to provide science fiction to the masses that was firmly grounded in real physics, real space flight operations, real experiences of being in space and using the hardware, etc. Having worked in the industry for almost two decades, it seemed like a natural union of both aspects of my life.
It sounds odd to say that one would want to maintain realism in their fiction, but that is exactly what I desire. We have learned a lot about living and working in space since the greats – even Asimov – started writing. Some things they got right, some they didn’t. So now I want to offer up stories and themes that are re-anchored and extrapolated from today’s reality of space travel and science.
Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
This I would say is a truly impossible question for me to answer as there have been so many amazing people in my life. To say my mother was the most influential person would do a gross disservice to my father, and visa versa. To saw it were the people in my community growing up, would be unfair to the people whom I’ve grown to know and love along the way after leaving home.
If the aeronautical engineering business ever flatlines, buddy, I think you have a career in diplomacy. If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Joseph of Nazareth (father to Jesus). Not because I am a religious man, but because you don’t hear much from Joseph. Being a step father is a tough job, a real unsung task that many do poorly. And given all the stir Jesus has made through out history, I would love to have the chance to sit and talk to Joseph and get the real skinny about those events so long ago.
What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Do it because it adds awesomeness to your life, not because feeding your family depends upon you making money from your writing.
"In the Days of Humans: Third Exodus" and second volume of the series “New Dawn” seem to be pure hard sci-fi. Do you think it is, and if so in what ways is it like or unlike other works in the genre?
Yes, in all classical senses Third Exodus and New Dawn are pure science fiction. However—yes, there’s always a ‘however’—I would also venture to saw that it crosses over multiple genre lines just by the nature of the story and multiple plot-lines. Living through the drama and political posturing, the terrorism and the violence that facilitated the end of the world in chapter one and then living through the world that was left after the apocalypse, some might consider it an action-thriller / horror. And this is to say nothing about the psychology associated with experiencing life-changing events and the decisions we have to make during those very trying moments, and just being human.
A sizable piece of Third Exodus takes place on Earth and includes covert ops, political corruption, murder, action, and personal emotional, gut-wrenching decisions to be made—not everyone gets to escape the end of the world the second time. This portion of the book would really fall within the political / action-packed fiction arena where you would expect similar plots as what you might find in a Clancy novel.
In addition to the realistic world of space flight, I wanted—and to some degree had to—introduce more fantastical technology to keep the plot moving along and to facilitate the epic nature of the novel story line. Certain sections of the book might be familiar in approach to what we saw in the first Star Trek movie where they spent a significant portion of the movie trying to figure out what V-ger was. But I also want to give readers something more to chew on other than just a nice action-packed sci-fi novel. I didn’t want to have the philosophical threads be so weighty that the average reader couldn’t slog through and enjoy just the story, but I did want to throw some ideas out there that would sit in the back of the reader’s mind and percolate questions. I’ve saved the intense philosophical questions for New Dawn! J New Dawn is dark, intense, uncomfortable, messy, horrifying, and in your face about a lot of things that are “normal” to being human that we tend to not want to address or confront.
And lastly, there is the human element, the human condition, that I feel is critical to examine and place into the text. Life is about our experiences and our relationships, and thus I spend a lot of effort in the book to develop those aspects and the eventual outcomes. People grow, learn, make friends, make enemies, fall in love, have sex, and die – not necessarily always in this order unless you’re a black widow spider.
Do you consider your book to be a post-apocalyptic future story? Is it dark, or mostly hopeful?
Yes. To all of it. I like to describe the In the Days of Humans series as a post-apocalyptic future with hope. Plagued with apocalyptic dreams my entire life as a product of growing up during the cold war, participating in ‘duck and cover’ drills in school and living next to an Army ammunition depot during my childhood, I have lived through the end of the world a thousand times. And let me tell you, every single way you do it is horrifying.
But those are futures that come about in worlds where people lose all hope. Normal life is hard enough and can be very, very overwhelming and depressing if you let it, so I always give the promise to the reader that if they will stick with me on the journey through the novel that I will deliver them to a better day. That hope of a better tomorrow is what keeps us as a species driving through the hard times so that we or at least our children will have a better tomorrow. So I carry forward that promise into my novels such that people can have a path through the woods and back into the sunshine if ever they were to find themselves in the worlds within my novels.
A Note from Terry:
For those who might be interested in my writing or style thereof, I offer up the following two snippets from “In the Days of Humans: Third Exodus”
One tick of the clock passed. The President exhaled. How had their well-meaning efforts led them here? The hope and fate of the world likely was held on the point of his decision. It wasn’t supposed to work out this way. “Unless there are any better ideas...?” He paused but was not met by any reply, “Alright, go make it happen!”
The crowd quickly began to disperse. The phone rang. Everyone stopped in place as if rehearsed and slowly turned to face the President as he answered.
“Hello?” The muffled sounds of an excited voice came from the other end of the line. Sinking into his chair, the President’s face paled and turned graven as he ended the call. Oh God…
The President spoke quietly and with great effort. “We no longer have control of our nuclear arsenal. There are reports of at least fifteen domestic launch signatures. The preliminary trajectories will take them to D.C. and fourteen of the largest cities in the US. The same is being reported by all of the other countries with nuclear strike capability.”
The lights flickered and went out. The room erupted with action as all bodies mobilized in an effort to come up with evacuation plans for all the major cities, including their own.
A rather frantic staffer approached the President. “Sir, we need to get you onto Air Force One, now! We have sent for the First Lady to meet you at the plane.”
He sat motionless, stunned. What had they done? “Sir, we have to leave NOW!!”
The last person was on board and the doors to Air Force One were still closing as the aircraft picked up speed down the runway. The atmosphere in the plane was organized chaos, but with movements of purpose. Silence dominated the cabin when the President turned to the General of Special Ops and asked, “What is the latest?”
“Sir, we have taken down about forty five percent of the Internet hardware and have units en route to directly take down as much of the rest as they can. Sir, I have to remind you that the original Internet was designed by the military to survive and negotiate hardware taken out by a nuclear attack. It has evolved over the last sixty or so years. I honestly don’t think we can take it completely down. We have reports of a thirty percent success rate at taking out the satellites. Our anti-missile system was not designed to fire away from the Earth and take out communication satellites in geostationary orbit. We lost control of that system five minutes ago. We just can’t keep ahead of Blue’s decryption capabilities.”
The President leaned forward in his seat and cradled his head in his trembling hands and then slowly looked back up at the general. “That leaves us with only one option. Contact any country still in control of their conventional or nuclear weapons and ask them to strike all places on Earth where Blue has assets. This is our only hope to have a future, any future. Send the list of worldwide targets, and may God forgive me.”
From the quiet of space where sound has no reign, the blue planet slowly rotated. Silently the continents crept into view, the resplendent cerulean oceans and forested landmasses were replaced by the glow of inflamed crimson and oranges and the shadows of darkness. The cloud cover was occasionally punctuated with flashes that parted the sky like the hands of God himself making room for the growing, glowing, rolling columns that served as ferryman to transport the souls of billions from the Earth to their respective, assumed destinations. As the Earth’s surface rotated into the blackness of perpetual night, the places where cities once illuminated the darkness now only briefly glowed with the transient life of fire that quickly extinguished itself, leaving a world as it had been before humankind walked upright across its face.
Evah was early and stood alone in the desert on this unusually cloudy morning for this wasteland, at the agreed upon coordinates. A clear path was worn in the hard earth as she paced while waiting. She hoped that they would arrive soon. Evah checked her watch for the thousandth time, and then heard what sounded like three mighty drum beats off in the distance. That must be the sonic booms of the Yamakarā, she thought to herself. They would be here any minute!
Scanning the sky in the direction of the last signal of its approach she finally saw what she was searching for. As large as a mountain and with the magnificent wings of a mighty, ancient black dragon, the Yamakarā punched through the cloudbank and glided silently to a stop on top of a choking blanket of rushing air, dust, and sand. She caught herself jumping with joy and clapping her hands like a schoolgirl as the vehicle rolled to a stop. Heat radiating from the ship made it seem alive, overheated, and weary from its long journey. This was not the spacecraft that left Earth four years ago; it was something completely different. Something beautiful, but not of her world.
She quickly moved to place the portable stairs where the external hatch should be and secured everything in preparation for the egress of the crew. Almost convinced it was taking too long and there must be something wrong, she sighed with relief as the hatch opened inwardly and one of the young engineers stuck his head out, waved, and shouted a greeting. To her surprise, as the crew departed the ship her eyes welled with tears of joy. Her long departed crew had finally returned home, if only for a short while.
Links to follow the amazing Mr. Hill:
· Website: http://terryrhill.net
· Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/t.r.hill.author
· Twitter: @terry_r_hill
· Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7348871.Terry_R_Hill
Third Exodus: https://www.createspace.com/4446863
New Dawn: https://www.createspace.com/5109304
• Amazon (Kindle):
Third Exodus: http://www.amazon.com/In-Days-Humans-Third-Exodus-ebook/dp/B00FLW1T0W
New Dawn: http://www.amazon.com/New-Dawn-Days-Humans-Book-ebook/dp/B00PQO8HVO
• Barnes & Nobles (Nook): Third Exodus: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-the-days-of-humans-terry-r-hill/1117116233
• Kobo Books: Third Exodus: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/in-the-days-of-humans-third-exodus
• Also available on Apple iBooks – just search for “In the Days of Humans”