We are delighted to welcome Gavin G. Smith back to the Gollancz Blog for a special guest post. Gavin’s new book A Quantum Mythology is an epic space opera and a wide-ranging exploration of the past, present and future of mankind. A Quantum Mythology is out now in bookshops and we’ve got an exclusive behind-the-scenes post about the story behind this epic novel.
Talking about the inspiration behind A Quantum Mythology, and the Age of Scorpio trilogy in general, is kind of difficult. A Quantum Mythology is set across three different time periods, ancient Britain, the modern day, and the far future, and has five main story arcs. Countless experiences, conversations, places/journeys, books, comics, role-playing games, music, TV shows, artwork and music have helped inspire the books. Also I’m not sure how this works for other writers but I find that few ideas burst fully clothed from my forehead. Most of the time it’s a tiny nugget of an idea followed by a lot of work. That’s probably not a very satisfying answer however. I’ll try and narrow it down a bit by time period.
The ancient Britain storyline tells the story of Britha, a Pictish druid and Tangwen a Briton hunter. This probably sounds obvious but I always try and write about things that I’m interested in (it makes research a lot more fun). I’ve been fascinated by ‘Celtic’ mythology and Iron Age Britain and Ireland since I was ten years old. I’m also fascinated with the Picts, though so little is known about them I suspect that what most of us think of as Picts are more likely a construct of our collective imaginations. When I decided that I wanted to write a story set across three different time periods, I knew that one of the periods was going to be Iron Age Britain.
I once jokingly described Age of Scorpio as a space opera version of the film Highlander set in modern day Portsmouth. It’s always fun to see a look of horror on your editor’s face. I think, however, the genesis of the idea came from a conspiracy theory sent to website about the band Tool in the wake of 9/11. The theory posited that our entire history, including the terrorist attacks, were the result of warfare between two hidden cabals descended from the Templars and the Assassins. Obviously nonsense but it got me thinking and the Templars and the Assassins became the Circle and the City of Brass.
The unpleasant Woodbine Scab and his insect partner Vic Matto existed a long time before the Age of Scorpio in two short stories. I think that Scab may have started off as an idea for a role playing character (that I don’t think I ever got to play, which is probably for the best) based very loosely on a character called Scavenger from the Marvel UK comic Dragon’s Teeth.
The universe that Scab and Vic inhabited came from the premise of what if humanity had access to near Culture levels of technology but were still arseholes. As I see it their universe is the result of the parasitical, Ayn Rand-style of non-capitalism that causes so much suffering today being taken to it’s (il)logical conclusion.
I hope that shines some light, even if it’s just a flickering match, on how A Quantum Mytholgy came to be.
Gavin G. Smith is the Dundee-born author of the hard edged, action-packed SF novels Veteran, War in Heaven, The Age of Scorpio and A Quantum Mythology, as well as the short story collection Crysis Escalation. He has colloboarted with Stephen Deas as the composit personality Gavin Deas and co-written Elite: Wanted, and the shared world series Empires: Infiltration and Empires: Extraction. You can find out more about Gavin by visiting his website or following him on Twitter@gavingsmith