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Mirrored Heavens: David J. Williams on the Future

David J. Williams' intriguing Mirrored Heavens is set in a 22nd century in which a space elevator has just been destroyed by a mysterious insurgent group called Autumn Rain. US counterintelligence agents Claire Haskell and Jason Marlowe are assigned to finding out more about Autumn Rain. Superpowers move to the brink of war and Haskell and Marlowe find themselves as much hunted as hunter in this action-packed thriller. The novel comes with glowing endorsements from Stephen Baxter and Nancy Kress, among others. I interviewed Williams recently, via email, to get his thoughts on the future...

Mirror

Amazon.com: Can you share with Amazon readers where you are as you’re answering these questions?
David J. Williams: Sitting at my desk in my apartment in Dupont Circle, Washington D.C. Where, incredibly enough, the weather is mild enough to allow me to open the windows rather than cower in front of my AC. (Which is probably where I'll be by the time you read this.)

Amazon.com: What is your background, and how long have you been writing?
Williams: The vital stats: born in the UK, but have spent most of my life in the U.S. Former management consultant who's also moonlighted as a video-game writer--worked for Vancouver-BC-based Relic Entertainment, which put out the Homeworld franchise of video games.  And I've been writing since September 2000...though calling what I was doing back then "writing" is to take some liberty with the word.

Amazon.com: What was the spark or catalyst for writing Mirrored Heavens?
Williams: The short answer:  I was desperate to escape the corporate world, and knew I'd better think of something fast before I ended up wondering where the #$# my life went. The longer answer:  I found myself reading a lot of U.S. military planning papers (there's a lot more in the public domain than you might think), and was struck by the extent to which they were anticipating the shifting of the center of gravity of war into space. I started to think about Reagan's SDI initiative, and started to wonder what the world might be like when stuff like that actually becomes possible across the next several decades:  what happens when you really can construct a missile-shield that shoots down 99.9 percent of incoming warheads? What would that mean for strategy? What are the implications of the maturation of speed-of-light weaponry? That led to a future in which a new Eastern superpower arises to challenge the U.S.--and plunges the world into a second cold war that makes the first look like a warm-up act. 

Amazon.com: What are some of the challenges of writing nearly near-future fiction? Most writers either choose a period in this century or far future.
Williams: The biggest challenge is making everything as plausible as possible, while recognizing that you're still going to have folks crawling out of the woodwork nitpicking each and every aspect of your future.  There are people who will sit through endless tales about the singularity and aliens and FTL without batting an eyelid--but claim that Russia might still be a force to be reckoned with a century from now, and suddenly they're frothing at the mouth. But that's an inescapable component of writing about the near-future. It comes with the territory.   

Amazon.com: How does human civilization survive global warming to get to 2110?
Williams: Well, we almost don't. Things stagger downward for pretty much the entirety of the 21st century, until finally the United States and the Eurasian Coalition realize that they've got to put aside their differences and work together before it's too late. (Of course, that's when a new player with a very different agenda hits the scene...)

Amazon.com: What was the most fun about writing the novel?
Williams: They say that Balzac on his death-bed inquired about the health of his characters. That's what's most fun (and scary) about it--the fact that such a delusion is even possible. People who lived in my mind for years and years now live on my pages and in the minds of my readers. 

Amazon.com: What do you see happening in the real near-future of this planet, in terms of politics and globalization?
Williams: Nothing good. I continue to believe that getting into space in a serious way is the only way to break on out of the trap we're stuck in.

Amazon.com: What are you currently working on?
Williams: Building out my website. Which features all sorts of data relating to the Second Cold War and the hunt for Autumn Rain.  Check it out.

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