On his latest work, Amagon: The Book of Man
AM: Thank you for taking the time, let me begin in asking: With Amagon being your break-out novel, what challenges and benefits most affected your work and have you delved into writing before?
AU: The initial idea for Amagon goes back 20 years, to what I originally intended to call The Book of Man. My intention was to write a novel that gave a new perspective on the true relationship between man’s science and his religious philosophy, and how the two, working together have impacted his evolution and advancement. I eventually settled on the science fiction genre because most of the issues presented are extremely controversial in the present. I believed that by moving them into a “future world”, readers might be able to consider my arguments more dispassionately.
As for previous writing experience, I had over the years contributed columns to several small town newspapers addressing contemporary issues, generally in a Twainesquian voice, and submitted and had published a number of humorous short stories to regional publications in the Ozarks region of Missouri. I also amassed a rather impressive collection of rejection slips from some of the more nationally prominent journals and periodicals.
AM: What were your biggest influences for having written Amagon, in other words, what motivated or sparked the creativity needed in creating such a world as found in Amagon?
AU: I have always been profoundly interested in the tension between human scientific thought and human philosophy. I was raised in a religious environment, but my natural interests were in the sciences. The juxtaposition of these two worlds has kept me in a state of intellectual tension that needed resolution. As a result, I have studied deeply the origins and impacts of these two arenas of human thought extensively. I have come to the conclusion that religion and science are not mutually exclusive, but in fact are complimentary. I am educated in the sciences and am also an active member of a religious congregation. I find that both pursuits require reasoning and faith. In Amagon I have tried to represent a future for man where the power of these two aspects of human existence are melded into one purpose – the preservation of the species.
AM: Could you describe some of the themes found in your novel and are they centered on the genre of science fiction?
AU: The principle theme of Amagon is man’s migration from a planetary surface to living free in space. Whereas most science fiction focuses on travel to other planets, using extreme (and perhaps impossible) technologies like superlight travel or matter transport, instead, I focus on the simple notion of escaping the bonds of gravitation and all the effort required to combat it, and evolving into creatures adapted to live in a micro-gravity environment. This requires some initially invasive adaptations to the organism, both behaviorally and physiologically, like Excision, and various biological supports as the human body adapts to micro-gravity. Other than that, the major technology is repurposing the materials of planet Earth and other planets and moon in the solar system into manufactured Habitats specifically designed to support biological biomes conducive to human proliferation.
AM: Have you considered a theatrical or graphic novel adaptation of your work, and if so – do you have any actors or artists in particular?
AU: I think the only possible theatrical treatment for the novel would be computer animation, done in the style of Cameron’s Avatar. Because Amagon is intended to portray a hopeful future for mankind, it would be absolutely essential that the production focus on the beauty within the Habitats - the terra, flora, and fauna.
AM: As an educator, how has your experience transferred into both the creative art of storytelling and the struggle of keeping it relevant to your intended audience?
AU: As a science educator my purpose is to instill in young people the hope that our further understanding of the universe and all within it is the key to happiness. So often they see each new scientific advancement either weaponized or used solely for financial gain. I try to encourage them to rise above these primitive urges, and imagine science and technology as the path to our physical salvation. Of course, philosophically I also remind them that such a path requires faith in the existence of a higher purpose than satisfying our individual wants and needs.
AM: Who would you say is your ideal reader and what have you learned in having interacted with many of your readers?
AU: Though I believe my work is accessible to many social and age groups, the reader I had in mind is an intellectually curious young adult, probably in college, and making the transition from the culture and ideas held by his family and childhood friends to that brave new world of culture and ideas we invent for ourselves as we challenge the old ideas and go in search of the new.
AM: What have you done to attract such readers to your initial effort in what is the first in a series of novels?
AU: I have intentionally avoided promoting my book to my current and future students as a matter of ethics. I have discussed and promoted my work with past students, many of whom are now in college. I have also had the extreme pleasure of carrying on some interesting correspondence from college students in several different countries.
AM: Speaking of your book series, are you currently working on a sequel to your incredible first attempt and if so, when can we expect it to be available?
AU: I am currently finishing an interquel to Amagon called The Budding of Ptatkurapki. It isintended to examine more closely the circumstances from which the Amagon story evolved, and to further explore the deeper philosophical questions of human existence and life in general. The prequel to Amagon, at this time titled The Last Days of Man on Earth, is in the works. As a full-time educator, my writing ambitions must as yet take a second seat to my obligations to students, so I cannot say with certainty when the work will be forthcoming. But the story is written in my mind, and only awaits to opportunity to become print.
AM: Thank you again for your time, your first novel was entertaining, well-written, and a real treat for sci fi enthusiasts.
AU: Thank you, Adrian. It has been a pleasure.
AM: A. Umaz can be found on Co-opress.com under the imprint of Helios Press as an Independent Authors Cooperative Press (IACP) member and on Goodreads’ authors listing as well as on Facebook and his own website. He is welcoming of fan questions or comments, does not shy away from thought-provoking conversations, and is someone I am supportive of and consider a friend. Remember to get your copy of Amagon: TheBook of Man currently available on Amazon and Createspace in both paperback and e-book versions. Look for book two of the Amagon series: The Budding of Ptatkurapki
Interview of A. Umaz by Adrian Mendoza September 26, 2015.