For those who haven’t read Revolution 19 yet, can you give us a brief synopsis?
I’ll steal some “marketing” language, because it does a pretty good job:
In the year 2051, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on humanity. Though most humans were either killed or enslaved in the robot revolution, siblings Nick, Kevin, and Cass spent their entire lives in the wilderness, in a Freepost, hiding from the robots. But when the bots discover their community’s location, the three barely make it out alive as their home is destroyed and everyone they love captured or killed.
Now on a risky mission to infiltrate one of the robot’s cities and find their parents, the three come face-to-face with a perfectly monitored new order, where citizens are microchipped and “reeducated” under the robot regime. Anyone who doesn’t abide by their laws faces severe punishment, even death. But as the siblings move stealthily about the City, with the assistance of covert sympathizers, they soon realize they’re not just
fighting to free their loved ones anymore—another revolution is underway.
Where are we when Fugitive X begins? Has any time passed since the end of Revolution 19?
It picks up right where Revolution 19 left off.
Why do you think dystopic and apocalyptic films and books have become so popular recently?
To some degree, Hollywood is of course chasing the success of The Hunger Games. But I do think there’s something deeper going on. We’re in a real time of uncertainty, and change, in our world right now.
Dystopian/apocalyptic novels and films tap into this atmosphere, amplify it, focus it in a way that is cautionary but also thrilling and escapist, all at the same time. We recognize the faults in the real world in these fictional dystopias, and we think, are we headed down this path?, but it makes it palatable in a way that nonfiction could not.
Do you think the popularity will wear off after a while, or is it here to stay?
As long as we have pollution, war, repression, totalitarianism, poverty, etc., we’ll have dystopian and apocalyptic fiction and movies. They’ve been around for a long time—think Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Nineteen Eighty-Four—and they’re here to stay. I do think, however, that popularity and Hollywood are fickle, and the degree to which this type of fiction is “hot” will wax and wane, like everything else.
What is it about science fiction that inspires you to write for this genre?
I grew up devouring science fiction and fantasy fiction. I couldn’t get enough. But when I began to focus seriously on being a writer, I avoided writing “genre” fiction. For a number of years, I worked on “literary” fiction, and it wasn’t bad, but it was mostly joyless. Finally I came to my senses and realized that I needed to tap into that sense of joy and excitement and wonder and danger and thrill that I had felt from good sci fi and fantasy. Science fiction and fantasy allow me to tackle serious stuff while still having fun.
Do your books reflect your vision of the future?
They’re a reflection on the relationship I see between humanity and technology, and a dramatization, and exaggeration, of where I think we could be headed. No, I’m not arguing that we’re literally headed for a robot revolution in 40 years, but I do think that our ever-evolving relationship with our tech is just as unsettling as it is exciting.
What’s next for you, besides your Revolution 19 trilogy? Any other stories on the horizon?
I’m working on Book 3 right now. Once I wrap that up…I’m not sure, but I want to start something a bit more on the fantasy side, I think. Maybe an urban fantasy, on the dark side, but with a sense of humor? I’ve got some ideas kicking around…
Gregg Rosenblum works at Harvard, where he wages epic battles against technology as an editor/webmaster/communications/quasi-IT guy. He graduated from UC San Diego and has an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. He lives in Boston with his wife and daughter.