“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
—Arthur C. Clarke’s third Law of Prediction
Ghosts of Eden is, in a lot of ways, one of my more personal novels. I was nearly half-way through the first draft when I received that most amazing of calls, the call all aspiring writers hope for, that call from my publisher accepting my first novel, The New Flesh. I only mention this because I want to highlight where my head was at that time. I had written a novel that was the first one where I felt I had really accomplished something. As twisted and surreal as it was, I knew it was uniquely mine. It was written in my style, about things I wanted to write, without regard to genre or whether or not anyone was ever going to read it. I didn’t care. I’d sent it out to as many agents and publishers as I could, of course, always hopeful it would see publication, but that didn't really matter. What mattered was that it was mine. I had found something that I’d heard so much about. I had found my voice and now I was working on my next novel and I knew it was going to be better than the one before it.
And it is--Ghosts of Eden is better than The New Flesh in a lot of ways. It’s more cohesive and has stronger plot progression. It’s more focused. Ghost of Eden has strong characters that I believe many will find relatable. It also has Garty, who is, I have to admit, based on a younger, reckless, I-just-don’t-give-a-fuck version of myself. Garty is a character who showed up a lot in my writing in my early years while in college. Writing him into Ghosts of Eden has helped me to acknowledge my past and to personally move on with my life.
Speaking of my past, let’s talk about Los Alamos, New Mexico, where I lived for many years growing up. A fictionalized version of this strange, little town is the setting for most of Ghosts of Eden. My dad worked for Los Alamos National Labs (where the Manhattan Project was conducted for World War II and the birthplace of the Atomic bomb) until he retired a few years ago. It’s difficult to explain to someone who has never been there what it’s like, especially the people. It’s a small, remote town in the mountains in the middle of the desert, but not like what you’d think. There are no hillbillies and it is a far cry from the stereotypical small town you might see in a B-rate horror movie. Everyone who lives there has at least one person with an advance collegiate degree in some sort of science field in their family. It’s a community almost exclusively upper-middle class. Everyone has money. And everyone has Asperger’s syndrome…
Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but my point is that these are science-types. These are very smart people with stunted social skills. They can design and solve advance mathematical equations, but they struggle with dressing themselves properly each morning. It’s a funny place to grow up. In Ghosts of Eden I portray it as a town filled with people who live solely for scientific fact—if they can’t see it or prove it mathematically, it doesn’t exist. I use it as a foil for the inexplicable. This is not, I should point out, entirely fair. There are, after all, a lot of people who read in Los Alamos, and many who enjoy fiction and fantasy. The science museum is even called the Ray Bradbury Science Museum. So any resemblance between the fictitious locale in Ghosts of Eden and the actual Los Alamos are mostly coincidental.
I’ve used Los Alamos in this way as a means to explore one of the major themes in Ghosts of Eden: the nature of reality and the disciplines by which we come to understand it, particularly those scientific and imaginative. On the surface, science and imagination seem to have very little to do with each other. Science demands rational explanations, while imagination envisions things that are seemingly impossible. But they are actually great compliments to each other. Without the ability to imagine what is possible, one cannot set out to prove it rationally. Albert Einstein himself said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Without imagination, the scientific method fails.
This is to say Ghosts of Eden was born partially out of my fascination with theoretical physics and our feeble understanding of the universe and partially out of personal experiences. It plays with the idea that magic and science are the same. Intrigued by the concepts of string theory and scientific notions that parallel universes may actually exist, I read a couple of Brian Greene’s books, especially The Hidden Reality, from which I’ve drawn inspiration for some of the lessons and rants Uncle Xander gives to Kayla and Garty in Ghosts of Eden.
But, please don’t worry. The themes and academics are not important. These things are just one writer’s interests and are not intended to detract from that which is truly important: The Story. If you’ve come looking for horror and magic, for mystery and the uncanny, for nightmares and insidious dangers, you’ve come to the right place. One reviewer on Goodreads.com said Ghosts of Eden is like “Harry Potter on amphetamines” (Paul Nelson). Another called it a “phantasmagorical horror that reads like something H. P. Lovecraft would have enjoyed” (Rabindranauth). So, you be the judge.
November 24th, 2014