Saturday, August 15, 2020

Toby Weston and His Sci-Fi Book Series - Singularity's Children

In this interview, Toby Weston talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by, about his books, the Singularity’s Children Series.


“We need to believe that there is a positive future.” ~Toby Weston

Toby has dabbled with being in academia and presently works in information technology, in addition to writing. He had always wanted to be a scientist and had also spent a lot of time reading science fiction, with such authors as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Douglas Adams. His reading science fiction actually started when he began reading Douglas Adams at the age of eight, and this not only enabled him to finally learn how to read but also enabled him to get familiar with a wide variety of authors and stories. 

Where present-day IT developments are concerned, Toby remarks that AI - artificial intelligence - is the big development which is presently taking place, pointing to GPT-3 - a simulated language modeling program which, through learning, produces text that could be mistaken as having been written by a human being - as one such example. AI will “soon” be in “every fridge and mobile phone,” according to Toby, and while he acknowledges the possibility that AI could go rogue, it will likely not happen in the way that a lot of science fiction stories have. Toby remarks that AI algorithms presently know what people would respond to, and if people respond to anger, then it will present anger. AI is thus presently set up to, in effect, fight humans because of the way it was programmed. “It’s making a lot of money for people, so nobody’s complaining,” he adds. It’s more likely that people will wake up and “something weird” has happened unexpectedly, according to him. That said, Toby remarks that people’s appreciation of AI is maturing and are recognizing the subtlety of AI. “We’re in the middle of it,” he remarks.

Toby admits that the style of the authors he reads “inevitably” creeps into his style, and he hews to writing “hard” science fiction, although he does write about developments which might not be considered “hard.” That said, he focuses on writing about things which are conceivable, based on present-day technologies and the possible projections of such, such as an easy-to-use language interface that enables different species of animals to communicate with each other. He also strives for consistency, where the technology is concerned, with his books and stories.

Toby had always thought “it would be nice” to write stories, and at the age of 19 sent off some chapters for some books that he could possibly publish. He only got into having his books published with the self-publishing boom that began in the early 2010s. The Singularity’s Children series is set in what could be called a possible alternate version of Earth, as he didn’t want to be constrained by what does and doesn’t happen on our world, particularly with real-world technologies possibly becoming obsolete during the course of his writing. Although the series starts off somewhat negatively, Toby’s intention is for it to end on a note of hope, moving forward into other possible future stories possibly involving space exploration.

The series itself is one of “multiple threads,” with each thread representing one of the characters who, over the course of the series, get to interact with each other. Toby admits that managing all the threads is “difficult,” and remarks that his style developed over the course of his writing out the series. It was because of this that he essentially “wrote backwards,” as he needed to keep adding backstories - so much so that his first book was actually split into two separate books, as the original first book became so large because of this. He now keeps “copious notes” and also admits that he really doesn’t know what’s going to happen until he writes things out. The most fun he has, where writing the series is concerned, is thinking up the world and the stories, even though this is one which, he admits, is one that he has the least control over (which, he admits, can be “nerve wracking”).

Toby remarks that people need to stop being “sold to” by people who don’t care that what is being sold. Persuasion technologies, he adds, is what the “jungle” is today, as the environment is no longer natural. “What is it that we want?” he posits, and the answer being a genuine, positive thing is what is really needed nowadays.

Purchase from Amazon: 

The Singularity’s Children Series (1-3) by Toby Weston

ReImagination (Singularity's Children, Book 4) Kindle Edition by Toby Weston

ReImagination (Singularity's Children, Book 4) Kindle Edition by Toby Weston

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