No matter how smart we may be, we can’t always predict the outcome of our actions, especially ones that are complex. But in his new science fantasy novel Threader Origins (hardcover, Kindle, audiobook), writer Gerald Brandt’s main character gets to see exactly what he’s going to do to his world…by visiting another version of it.
Photo Credit: Ian McCausland
To start, what is Threader Origins about, and when and where is it set?
The plot follows a university student, Darwin Lloyd, as he is pulled into an alternate universe. In this world, he worked on a project to use quantum energy as a power source (electricity). In the alternate universe, he sees the results of the project, and wants nothing more than to get back home and stop the same thing from happening there. Through it all, Darwin discovers that being alone is not the way to get through life, and that family is more than just blood.
As you can tell, it’s set on an alternate Earth and takes place in parts of New Jersey, San Diego, and other places around the United States. In the alternate Earth, the quantum power source was turned on five years earlier, and Darwin can see what has happened because of it.
Where did you get the original idea for Threader Origins, and how, if at all, did that idea change as you wrote this story?
Most of my ideas start with characters, and this one wasn’t any different. I created Darwin as a deeply flawed character filled with unimaginable guilt. My problem was: where could I put him that allowed him to show his flaws and to grow with them.
After the character sat with me for a while, I read an article on quantum strings and things started to click. That’s when the research started. I knew I wanted quantum strings in the novel and I had no clue where to start. I quickly realized I wasn’t nearly smart enough to understand either quantum theory or quantum strings, but one of the books I used for research, The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav, brought in a slew of ideas for Threader Origins, and I knew what I wanted to do and how to do it.
Threader Origins sounds like it’s a hard science fiction story. Is that how you’d describe it?
Definitely not hard science fiction. Though I enjoy reading it, I don’t enjoy writing it. Personally, I would call it science fantasy, though I am more than comfortable calling it science fiction. But if you’re looking for hard science, this is not the book for you.
When I first started Threader Origins, I truly thought I was writing a fantasy novel. That’s not where it ended up, and I’m very happy with that.
Threader Origins is not your first novel; you’ve previously published the San Angeles trilogy [The Courier, The Operative, and The Rebel], as well as some short stories. Are there any writers or specific stories that had a big influence on Threader Origins but not on anything else you’ve written?
Though my first series had a multitude of influencers, Threader Origins did not. I can’t say I’ve read anything quite like it before, and that was sort of my goal when I started out. I had these ideas floating around in my head, and I wanted to get them down on paper.
I guess if I really, really, hunted for one, I’d have to say my main character, Darwin, has some similarities with Thomas Covenant from Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever series, though I wouldn’t look too deeply into that.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav was a huge influence. It wasn’t necessarily the science in the book, but the emotions and ideas that it brought out. I have a heavily marked copy of that book, and a friend once picked it up while I was doing my research. He put the book back down and looked me straight in the eye and said “You only highlighted the emotional stuff and none of the science.” He was right.
Now, Threader Origins is the first book in a new series called the Quantum Empirica. You’ve even said, on your website, that there are at least two more books in the works: Threader War and Threader God. Is the Quantum Empirica going to be a trilogy?
The Quantum Empirica was planned as a trilogy, and the three books will tie up Darwin’s journey with an interesting bow. I’m writing Threader God, the third book, right now.
Will there be more in the Quantum Empirica series? I certainly have many ideas, and there are characters Darwin meets throughout the three novels that could easily carry another (insert large value) of new stories. But whether or not there will be more depends on a number of variables, including how well the first three novels do. I doubt there will be any more Darwin novels, but never say never.
As you know from when you did your San Angeles trilogy, there are people who will wait until the Threader God is out before they read any of them, and some will read all of the books in rapid succession. But do you think people should wait to read Threader Origins?
My gut reaction to should people wait is always no, but you specifically asked for a story-related reason… Interestingly, I still think it’s a no. I’d like to think that Threader Origins is something you’ll want to read again, so when Threader War comes out, you’ll buy it and re-read Threader Origins before going on to book two.
That being said, DAW Books already has Threader War, and Threader God is nearing completion, so I imagine the books will be released on an accelerated cycle (don’t quote me on that).
Earlier we discussed the movies, TV shows, and games that influenced Threader Origins. But do you think Threader Origins could work as a movie? Or a TV show? Or a game?
It would make a great movie series. I’m not sure how else I could answer that question. There would be some fantastic special effects in it, and since it takes place on an alternate Earth, picking filming locations wouldn’t be that difficult. When I signed on with my agent, Sara Megibow of kt literary, one of the first things she did was find me a Hollywood agent (Jerry Kalajian at IPG). So I’m happy to say there’s potential for a movie, but I haven’t heard of anything yet.
I think a TV show would be a bit more difficult, mainly because the books are all single point of view. Everything the reader sees is filtered through Darwin’s eyes. If they did do it, I think several other characters would need to get some extra screen time.
I don’t know enough about the gaming industry to answer that part of the question. I’d like to think it’s all possible, but as a character in Threader Origins says “But the probability of it occurring are quite low.”
So if someone did want to turn Threader Origins into a movie, who would you want them to cast as Darwin and the other main characters?
Some authors imagine their characters as someone in particular, usually an actor or actress. I’m not one of those. In fact, I tend to keep my character description to a minimum, and let the reader’s imagination create the character as they wish. So, this is a tough one for me to answer. [Quickly runs off to do research.]
So, after falling down the rabbit hole…
I think Josh Hutcherson [Hunger Games] would be a great Darwin, or possibly Harry Styles [Dunkirk].
For Teresa, I could easily see Selena Gomez [Monte Carlo] or Christian Serratos [The Walking Dead].
Finally, if someone enjoys Threader Origins, what similar sci-fi novel of someone else’s would you suggest they read next and why that one?
Umm… wow! That’s a tough one. I think in this particular case, all I can do is recommend books that have affected me in one way or another. The Gossamer Mage by Julie Czerneda is a masterpiece. Julie normally does science fiction and this one is fantasy, but her writing is extraordinary in Gossamer Mage.
I’ve recently read Trail Of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse and can’t wait to get into her next books. Both of these are not like Threader Origins at all (and are fantasy), but they are damn good reads.