Hello out there to all my friends and readers! I’m super excited to continue with Author Interviews here at OllieSpot for all things SciFi and Fantasy.
Today, I bring you SF writer, Tom Reissmann. He has recently released The Reality Games and was kind enough to grant me an interview to talk about politics, religion, and ….just kidding. We are talking about his new book of course! But also some questions that hopefully entertain, and hopefully, lead you to check out “The Reality Games“.
First things first, Congratulations on the recent release of your new book, The Reality Games.
Can you start off telling me about the book?
The Reality Games is a science fiction adventure set in the near future that explores the potential and the dark side of artificial intelligence, biotechnology and robotics.
Sounds awesome, made even cooler by saying that with an amazing Robert Deniro impression!
It’s also a love story about an android that becomes the perfect partner, after the protagonist has lost his wife, while also repairing the fraught relationship with his daughter who is grieving in her own way.
Did you have a genre in mind when you wrote it?
Yes, I knew I wanted it to be science fiction and I knew I wanted it to be more science-fact than fiction or fantasy. I wanted it to be rooted in reality rather than fantasy. I am a big fan movies like The Matrix, Ex Machina or Black Mirror, so it’s this kind of Phillip K. Dick mind-fuckery that I aimed for.
Why did you write it?
Because I believe we need a dose of optimism, especially about the future. We’re inundated with bad news on a daily basis and pretty much everyone you talk to has a negative outlook on the future. Most people automatically assume a sci-fi thriller set in the future must be dystopian, but when we look at history and the bigger picture things have actually gotten better. Statistically speaking we live in the safest and most prosperous time we have ever experienced. The most dangerous substance on the planet today is not is not a drug or gun-powder or even a virus, but sugar. We’re more prone to contracting a disease from sugar and dying from over consumption than war, famine or pestilence, and that still holds true even with Covid-19.
Do we face serious problems, like climate change, disinformation and environmental degradation? Yes, absolutely but we can solve those problems, like we have solved many others before. So, yes, I am optimistic we can build a better future, we just have to get our act together. So I wanted to create this positive vision of the future, while also discussing the dangers of emerging technology. But naturally, I wanted to package that vision inside a compelling story with characters the reader feels emotionally invested in and there has to be tension and conflict so I leave it up to the reader to decide whether my vision is utopian or dystopian.
How long did it take?
Including research, it took about 3 years to create, including several drafts and feedback from editors and science advisors.
What are you hopes or expectations for The Reality Games?
Ideally, for it to become a bestseller, either because of word-of-mouth or because an influencer—like Greta Thunberg—tells her followers about it. I recently sent a copy to her house in Stockholm
I first noticed a promotional video for your book a few weeks ago, very cool by the way, and was intrigued right away. I though The Reality Games were some sort of game, or Global movement, involving ancient mysteries tied in with secret societies or something..Fantastic way to promote the book. Can you talk more about the videos, and how they tie into the book?
So one of the main themes in the book is disinformation and conspiracy theories because the Tech-Resistance rebels are spreading fear about artificial intelligence and that it is already in charge of the one-world-government. There are also the so-called Simulationists who believe we are living in a simulation.
I created that narrative before the QAnon cult emerged and when I saw that happening I wanted to blur the lines between fiction and reality by suggesting that we are seeing more conspiracies emerge because we are waking up to the fact that we are living in a simulation. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate conspiracy? All this talk about a shadowy elite pulling the strings was actually about the ones who programmed and designed the simulation we’re living in. Renowned scientists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson actually have no valid argument against that simulation hypothesis.
So the videos are meant to direct people to my website where they can emerge themselves in some of the conspiracy theories and the psychology behind them but also the simulation hypothesis. Once people buy the book they will find that the book takes them on an interactive journey via QR Codes that lead them to hidden pages on my website.
What do you want readers to take away from The Reality Games?
The notion that we live in a beautiful world and that life is a big adventure and when we face our fears and are willing to change our habits and perception we can live an amazing life and build a better future. We just have to be more positive, co-operate more and return to science and rationality.
What are you working on now?
Writing articles related to the book and talking to people like yourself.
How has quarentine impacted your writing, and the release of your book?
Yes, definitely. It sped up everything and forced me to focus on it 100%. So a positive effect even though I felt like I was writing from prison, during the lockdown, which lasted for months where I live. The quarantine also encouraged me to get more into meditation which I did. It is part of my daily routine now.
Biggest writing influences?
I would say people like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Yuval Noah Harari and a Chinese science fiction author, named Liu Cixin who wrote The Three-Body Problem.
Favorite Sci-fi or fantasy books when you were a kid? Favorites from last couple years?
When I was a kid I absolutely loved Jules Verne. I grew up in East Germany, behind the wall, where snipers would shoot at you if you tried to leave, so I used to fantasize about leaving East Germany in a hot-air balloon because radar could not detect them.
As I mentioned, Liu Cixin is a more recent influence but also Neil Stephenson and Derek Künsken.
What is one technology or invention you would love to have discovered or created?
I would say GPS is a pretty stunning technology. Most people don’t know this but without Einstein’s understanding of General Relativity we would not have accurate GPS data because without adjusting the satellite clocks by 45 micro-seconds, ahead of ground clocks, it would fail within 2 minutes. That is a very practical application of General Relativity.
As for future technology I would love to invent or discover a clean energy source. In the book I also talk about an invention that uses augmented reality to project text onto a physical book with empty pages, like a Kindle ebook projected onto a real book because I love real books but also the convenience of downloading ebooks.
Life on other planets?
Definitely a possibility but I was never a huge fan of alien sci-fi. I like sci-fi rooted in the reality we know. Having said that, Arrival, was a great movie about making contact with alien life forms.
I actually believe we live in a simulation, so with regard to computational power, the designers have so far opted not to expand the simulation or game to outer space. Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence actually means we’ll never move faster than the speed of light or even close to it, making far-reaching space travel pretty close to impossible, again pretty convenient if you want to limit the special-computational power of a simulation because the participants can’t go very far.
On the other hand, quantum entanglement also means that information can be passed across billions of miles in an instant, so faster than the speed of light, which could indicate that we are indeed living in a simulation or a game because how come we can pass information across the universe but can’t travel across the universe ourselves?
What is the writing process like for you?
I write like a maniac. I just forget to eat and sleep and just keep typing and then later I comb through may sentences and polish it.
How do you refresh your creativity?
By walking, jogging, meditating or reading.
The last text message you sent?
“I’m answering questions for an author interview.”
Have you ever had a sleeping dream that has become a story or idea for a story?
Yes, I have dreamed of an android that was an ex, but a more perfect version of her, which has become a major character in my novel.
What band would you be in if you could be in One band?
Coldplay. I love their music and lyrics. In fact, they have two songs in the soundtrack to my novel. Yes, my novel has a soundtrack. You’ll know what I mean when you look at the preview on Amazon.
What celebrity would you like to hang out with?
I would love to hang out with Chris Martin from Coldplay, but also Barack Obama and Stephen Colbert, who are also massive science fiction fans.
Thank you so much Tom for appearing on my Blog. I loved your answers, and I’m sure everyone else will as well. Maybe we can do a Part Two for the next book as Go check out his new book (the website is really cool too), the link is below. Also, thanks to you, who have taken the time to read this. Please comment if you have any questions or feedback. See ya next time!
Purchase and Author pages:
- Purchase on Amazon
- Add on Goodreads
- Tom Reissmann Author Website https://therealitygames.com/
- Goodreads Author Page
…from Tom’s Amazon Author Page:
Tom Reissmann grew up under socialism in East Germany where he witnessed firsthand the effects of Russian propaganda efforts, something he sees occurring again today.
After the fall of the Wall, he ventured out into the world, a journey that led him to live in seven different countries. He attended University in Britain and Australia and became a travel videographer and documentary filmmaker, ensuring his global adventures continue.
Having witnessed the peaceful transition from a rigid, self-protective system in East Germany, he remains optimistic about the future of the world and its ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and technology.
Often dismayed by dystopian visions of the future depicted in many books and movies, Thomas felt compelled to write a more optimistic science fiction novel offering a brighter outlook, while also discussing the obvious dangers of artificial intelligence and the current drift into authoritarianism, alternate realities, and surveillance capitalism.
Tom is a writer for International Living and the creator of an award-winning documentary (The Grizzly Truth) that helped to end the grizzly-bear-hunt in British Columbia, Canada.
His fiction is informed by science, history, and philosophy. Tom has worked with several science advisors and editors to produce The Reality Games.
Books such as Sapiens, The Grand Design, Homo Deus, The Three-Body Problem, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and Our Final Invention have inspired the narrative of The Reality Games, along with TV Series like Black Mirror, Devs, and Westworld.