Tuesday, March 7, 2023

"Into Charybdis" is very fun novel set in the Aliens universe

This is the sequel to Alex White's first Aliens universe novel "The Cold Forge," and while not necessary, reading Cold Forge first will definitely make reading Into Charbydis a richer experience. Like any good Aliens universe story, the real monsters are the humans, but what really makes this book sing is White's skill for making so many characters special, even the villains (especially the villains), so that you're crushed when they don't make it. My only critique is the acid blood is a tad overpowered.

Here's a couple of interviews with the author:   

From an interview with the author about Charbydis (which takes place on a suspiciously-complex construction site on a barely-habitable planet):
I used to shoot video as an industrial photographer back in the day, for corporate documentaries and (occasionally) Modern Marvels. The things that I saw in the course of that job made me feel forever small. I love capturing the scale of a huge crane or a tension leg platform
From an interview about getting hired to write Cold Forge (which takes place in a Chrichton-esque isolated bio-weapons lab):
I’d just sold my debut novel ... and my agent used that as a springboard to start talking to Titan. Tie-in publishers like to know you’re a reliable writer who can deliver on tight deadlines, so a previously-published novel is a must. I had a few random pitch meetings over 2 years, and then I got the contract.
My time working on classified projects was a major driver in Titan’s decision to hire me. [A Titan editor] was fascinated by my experience and wanted to know everything I could tell him about the culture of weapons development. My old coworkers get a real laugh out of the book.
Once the contract was offered, I had exactly four months to write a novel. I’d never worked so fast before
And a second interview about Cold Forge (in which one of the main characters occasionally operates an android through VR):
My agent called me to let me know that I’d scored a pitch meeting with [the] Titan editor ..., and I had to come up with a couple of ideas, fast. I was at Adaptive Path’s UX week when Double Robotics did a presentation using their telepresence robot, and I was fascinated by the idea. What if you had one survivor in an alien outbreak who was cut off, only able to influence the outcome through telepresence? 
my friend’s father passed from complications of ALS around that time. Another friend of mine has a terminally-ill daughter, and watching the trials that poor kid has to endure is heartbreaking. I wanted the readers to feel the difficulties that come with a terminal condition, as well as the discrimination. Terminally-ill people are often treated as though they’re already dead.