With the sci-fi space opera novel Creation Machine (paperback, Kindle), writer Andrew Bannister is kicking off a trilogy he calls The Spin. Except that unlike some science fiction threesomes, fans of this one won’t have to wait years to read the other two parts, as Bannister will be releasing the second book, Iron Gods, on July 30th, and the third, Stone Clock, on November 19th (all three are already out in Bannister’s native England). In the following email interview, Bannister discusses the origin of this saga, its influences, and how it isn’t quite ending with the impending third book.
Let’s start with an overview of the plot. What is Creation Machine about, and when does it take place?
Creation Machine takes place in a snapshot in time during the long decline of civilization in an artificial planetary cluster called The Spin. The makers of The Spin are long forgotten but a few of their ancient, apocalyptically powerful tools live on.
At the time of the story, three factions are at war: the industrial and military might of the Hegemony, the leftist revolutionaries of Society Otherwise, and the expansionist medievalist empire of the Fortunate Protectorate. Into that three-way battle bursts one of the ancient machines — and a family conflict more bitter than any war.
Where did you get the original idea for Creation Machine and how did the story evolve as you wrote it?
I started with the simple image of a woman imprisoned in an impossible tower on a dying moon. Obviously that posed more questions than it answered: Who was the woman? Who had imprisoned her? How would she escape? Where was the moon and why was it dying? And gradually, as I answered those questions, the personality and history of Fleare Haas emerged, and the setting of The Spin developed. The Spin grew from the impossibility of the tower, and the conflict between Society Otherwise and the Hegemony from the fact of Fleare’s imprisonment.
Creation Machine is clearly a science fiction story, but is there a kind of science fiction that describes this story better?
It is certainly space opera, and I guess it is “soft” science fiction. My own preferred term is “future fiction.”
Are there any writers, or specific stories, that you think had a big influence on both what you wrote in Creation Machine and how you wrote it?
Definitely. Iain M Banks, of course. Lauren Beukes, for her contribution to gnarly urban weirdness. And Ursula K. Le Guin, who knew about human relationships and played them out on a science fiction and fantasy stage better than just about anyone. What else? Anything that appeared in the comic 2000AD! And I should mention Neil Gaiman’s comic book Teknophage, which I just loved.
How about movies, TV shows, video games, or other non-literary influence; did any of those have a big impact on Creation Machine?
I have to mention the original Blade Runner, because it set — still sets — the gold standard for world-building. And if you will forgive the dated reference, the original Dungeons And Dragons, because there was so much free-range imagination going on.
And this will be the last question I ask about influences: your bio says you work as an environmental consultant. Did your day job influence or inspire aspects of Creation Machine?
For sure. Put simply, a key effect of human (for a given value of human) activity is to make a mess of planets. It’s a thing, and we have to live with it. In the future we will have planetary industrial wastelands, and planetary ‘nature reserves’, and planetary food-producing mono-cultures, but I doubt if we will be able to just leave anywhere alone.
Now, all three books have already been published in England. Aside from changing such words as “colour” to “color,” are there any significant differences between the U.S. and U.K. editions?
Apart from spellings the books are unchanged.
And is it indeed a trilogy, or is it something different? I ask because some people expand their trilogies with side stories or sequel trilogies.
It is a trilogy, but there are other projects. I have been asked to write a novella which will be called According To Kovac; it is set in The Spin universe and will — I believe — be published in 2020.
I also have another more major related project in progress, but I can’t talk about that yet. I hope to have some news around April.
Given that all three books will be out in the U.S. within weeks of each other, some people will undoubtedly wait and read them in rapid succession. Do you think this is a good idea, or is there some story-based reason why they should take a break in between?
There is no story-based reason to wait.
Earlier I asked if Creation Machine had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or video games. But has there been any interest in adapting Creation Machine, or The Spin series, into a movie, show, or game?
We have had no approaches so far, but I am sure that is only because everyone in Hollywood is holding their breath. I would just say that I think the book would make a terrific film. Contact my agent.
If Creation Machine was being made into a movie or TV show, who would you like them to cast as Remi and the other main roles?
Well now. If Daisy Ridley [Star Wars: The Force Awakens] is available, I would be happy to see her cast as Fleare. I think Rami Malik [Bohemian Rhapsody] would make a great Muz. And I want to be Alameche, because I deserve a little fun.
Finally, if someone enjoys Creation Machine, what similar novel of someone else’s would you suggest they check out while waiting for Iron Godsto come out?
I would suggest The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks because it captured the peak of his early development of the Culture; Appleseed by John Clute, because he’s not afraid to be weird and difficult; and The City And The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke, which is not really similar and very dated now because it comes from the 1950s, but as an example of huge time-spans and immortal machines, it is still hard to beat.