Writers of science fiction often set their stories in the near future or the far future. Or in the future of a parallel reality. But in the following email interview with author Dwain Worrell about his military sci-fi and then some novel Androne (paperback, Kindle, audiobook), the first installment of a duology, he says it’s set in the “here-future.”
To start, what is Androne about, and when and where is it set?
Androne is a sci-fi novel set in the “here-future” as opposed to the near future. Nothing exists technologically in this world that doesn’t in ours, except for the andrones. The androne is like a tank shaped into the human anatomy, arms, and legs — mech-like in nature. These andrones are controlled by “pilots” in a cockpit many miles away. Paxton Arés is one such androne pilot. But when Paxton uncovers a secret about the nature of the war, it changes him and the trajectory of his story.
Where did you get the idea for Androne?
For Androne, I think the inspiration was not necessarily any specific thing that I watched or read, but instead was a sort of forecasting of technology that I was seeing in the real world. For instance, I watched images from the Syria and Afghanistan wars, and realized how much more common the use of drones had become. Even now in Ukraine, we can see the direction of future conflicts is heading, toward unmanned planes, boats, and “land-drones” for de-mining.
In addition, the images and videos of Boston Dynamics robots walking, running, and eventually doing backflips were both mesmerizing and a hint at where the robotics industry could go. Why put people in harm’s way when an “androne” does the same job much safer?
Is there a reason why Andrones are bipedal as opposed to having wheels or treads or four legs or even hovering like drones?
In the novel, the “war machine program” does include quadrupedals (four-legged drones), as well as six and eight-legged tank-like machines, called quads, K-9s, spiders, and so-on. There are also Furies, which are aerial drones. Androne focuses on the bipedal machines, but all forms of drones exist with the war machine program.
Androne sounds like it’s a military sci-fi story…
I think Androne is definitely part military science fiction, but there is another sub-genre of science fiction at play here, though revealing that would be a spoiler.
I think there are also strong elements of mystery and thriller within the story. So, in a way it’s a nice soup of all of these genres.
Now, Androne is your first novel, but not your last, as we’ll get to in a moment. It’s also not the first thing you’ve written, as you’ve written episodes of such TV shows as Iron Fist, FBI: Most Wanted, and Fire Country. Which we’ll also get to in a moment. But for now, are there any writers who had a big influence on Androne but not on anything else you’ve written?
I think Dan Simmons is one of the biggest influences I’ve had in the novel space. He is easily the writer who I’ve read the most. I’ve probably read about ten of his novels, most importantly being the Hyperion Cantos, four novels that made me want to start writing.
What about non-literary influences; was Androne influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?
I couldn’t say these films were influences on Androne specifically, but they were influences on me as a writer. Films like The Matrix and Back To The Future were very influential on me, bringing me to love science fiction as a genre. Then I’d say anime was also very influential, with films like Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D influencing the way I saw and thought about action. And I’m an avid gamer so I’m sure games like Super Metroid, an androne-like concept, probably had some sort of subconscious influence on me.
As I mentioned, you also write for TV. Why did you decide to write Androne as a novel as opposed to as a TV show? Or is the thinking that the novel of Androne is just the first step towards world domination, I mean a TV show?
Funny you ask that; I originally thought of Androne as a film, in fact, and pitched it to a few studios including Warner Brothers and Sony, but there was little interest in original stories back then. Most studios were and are still more focused on finding big IPs like Marvel, DC, and Star Wars. So, I decided to work on the idea as a novel. And I think writing it in book form opened up the world far more than a film could ever do.
I also mentioned that Androne is not the only novel you’ve written. On your website it says there’s a sequel to Androne called Alliance coming out June 11, 2024. Without spoiling anything about Androne, what is the second book about, and when does it take place in relation to Androne?
Alliance opens up a second point of view on the series. The enemy from the first novel gets a voice in the second book, and we follow their story; but we will still have glimpses at some of our first favorite characters from the first book.
And do Androne and Alliance form a duology, are they the first two books of a trilogy or a tetralogy, or are they just the first two installments of an ongoing series?
Androne and Alliance will be the only two books in this duology. The story wraps up very neatly at the end of Alliance.
Upon hearing that Androne is the first book of a duology, some people might decide to wait until both books are out before reading Androne, and some will further decide to read both of them back-to-back. Do you think people should wait, or not, and if you do, should they then binge the two of them?
I think reading either reading method works. Reading both together is always the way to go to avoid having to wait. But reading one now and waiting half a year for the next works as well, because the second novel (almost) could stand alone and not confuse the reader. So, I don’t think every detail of the first book needs to be remembered to read the second book, since both books (almost) stand on their own.
So, is there anything else people need to know about Androne?
The only thing I’d say about the novel is that the science fiction element in the story isn’t the andrones themselves. I really think the idea of piloting drones is far closer to science fact than fiction. There’s something else going on in the story that is revealed later (the big twist) that is the actual sci-fi of this story.
Finally, if someone enjoys Androne, what military sci-fi novel, novella, or series of someone else’s would you recommend they check out while waiting for Alliance to come out?
Ender’s Game, another series, isn’t as high on my personal list, but it’s an acclaimed novel and I admittedly have only read the first in the series, so I can’t say whether the series gets better.
Finally, Dan Simmons’ Hyperion and the sequel, Fall Of Hyperion, are not military sci-fi but have elements of it; in addition, Hyperion in my opinion is just straight up the greatest sci-fi novel ever written.