What made you want to write it?
Ultimately I don’t know but I always wanted to write from childhood. It was obvious I would never make a living at it so I had to shelve any idea of writing a book until after retirement. I knew it had to be a science fiction novel about freeing the world of violence but had no idea how it would turn out, having been confirmed as a Christian while writing it.
How long did it take?
Seven years but it was not a continuous process. For example, when my dear wife Pam died in 2013 her illness had lasted three years and during this period I stopped writing. All except the epilogue was complete but the book was not finished till four years after the onset of the tumour.
What is its main theme?
Defeating violence using non-violent methods and preventing its recurrence.
What hopes do you have for the book?
Primarily that it helps, in no matter how small a way, to make the world a better place. I want as many readers as possible because that increases the chances of it doing some good. I wanted it to be a gripping page turner, stimulate ideas on how to reduce violence and help bring the modern world closer to God through Christ.
What about financial reward?
It won’t make any difference to my own wealth but there are charities benefiting from sales.
And artistic recognition?
I did not set out to win fame or fortune. You could call me arrogant or naive in wanting to change the world. Literary praise is very unlikely but it would be good for sales and so help stimulate discussion of the ideas in the book. It would also be good for my ego but what is good for the ego is not necessarily good for one’s true self, the soul. I believe this as a Christian.
The novel introduces technology and methods for preventing war. Do you think they might have relevance to how to deal with today’s threats from terror groups and aggressive states like ISIS?
Yes. The west, i.e. that part of the world with a Christian heritage, is in a terrible dilemma. It faces ruthless evil from both centrally controlled and independent small groups willing to deliberately target civilians and use them as human shields, a tactic previously unthinkable to most westerners. These tactics put attackers and terrorists at a strategic advantage. At the same time they are securing increasingly advanced weapons and software technology. New methods are needed to confront this new kind of enemy.
So how would you, for example, prevent terrorist attacks?
In the world I attempt to create there is technology for locating dominophiles (those who love to dominate others) and identifying those likely to organize violent attack. There are methods for destroying ordnance and for arresting potential attackers without causing injury or death. The technologies used in the story are not available to us but, even with present technology, it should be possible to make an impact using the same general approach. I am hoping my novel will add to the discussion which is no doubt going on now in armed forces and security services worldwide.
Suppose you wanted to stop an attack being planned by a group in a particular nation. How might you begin to use the approaches described in the book?
In the novel new kinds of bainwave, Q-waves, are monitored on a large scale. This locates dominophiles and unstable groups of individuals. Today we would have to rely on social networks, mobile phones, demographic data, sociological reports, administrative data and undercover operators to locate unstable groups and dominophiles controlling them. The actual attacks and arrests, could, as in 2077, be nonviolent if carefully thought out using non-injury as a prime objective. This is crucial because it is the only way to avoid escalation. This may be the first time in history when the ideal of nonviolence can actually be applied in a kind of warfare.
There is also a spiritual dimension to the book. Does this have a bearing on the problems faced by the civilized world today?
Yes. A lot. What many in the western world seem to have lost sight of is that evil is a real force. You can’t reason with it or negotiate. It repeatedly came onto the world stage in the 20th century with the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Nationalism, Nazism, Fascism Shintoism , Communism and various outbreaks of ethnic cleansing. More people were killed then than in all previous history combined, over 100 million. Extreme Islam is the latest entry of evil into history, although I think evil also manifests itself in more subtle ways throughout the west, e.g. in attempts to de-sanctify Christ, so that humanity is de-humanised. Without the incarnation we are bags of chemicals and, as Dostoevsky said, without God anything is permissible.
So how is evil confronted in the novel?
There is a battery of practical methods – location of hate-filled individuals and potentially unstable social groups using 'sociodynamics', identification of dominophiles (who like to dominate people for the sake of controlling them), hologens for generating false figures to confuse the enemy, explosive location and neutralization, universal weapon destruction, batons which eject cobweb-like sheets to entangle the adversary, invisibility shields, high speed choreographic coordination of the attacking group and quantum computing decryption that can generate unbreakable encryption.
Would there not be escalation as the violent groups gradually got hold of the same technology?
Inevitably. The anti-violence authorities, even if they could be trusted to use their strategic advantage benevolently, would eventually lose it through infiltration, human error and betrayal. The long term answer is to defeat evil at its source in this world, through the soul. Somehow people in general have to change and when that happens it should not be necessary to constantly take anti-violence measures. Even if only a proportion of people change the effort and cost of keeping people safe would fall.
That’s a big’ if’. How can you get people to inwardly transform?
The story focuses on those who have sought to dominate others in causes driven by hate. They are impounded and kept captive for 6 months. During this period they go through a voluntary programme of Enlightenment. This includes playing the Enlightenment Game, which simulates the effects of sin, even the apparently minor demeanour, as it ripples out through the world. There are dialogues with Hermit Sages and periods of contemplation and prayer in deserted places, e.g. on Mars. Experiencing the stark , lonely beauty of space is also part of the programme. After six months the impounded person is entitled to be released even if he has not become Enlightened, i.e. transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Many might take offense at the method used to locate potential leaders of violence, as opposed to the manufacture and storing of weapons and explosives. It might be seen as infringement of their rights as free citizens. What would be your response?
There is no avoiding it. Human rights are only a human invention which rely on everyone playing the game. Something has to give when certain individuals succumb to evil and deliberately abuse the legislation in order to cause the downfall of the society out of which the legislation emerged. The alternative is to leave such people free to inflict injury on the innocent and destroy all freedom.
Father James is portrayed as an ecumenical spiritual leader who brings together the world’s religions but he does this in response to a vision of Christ. Again, this may not go down well with many of your readers, even some of the more liberal Christian ones. Does this not go against the idea of ‘many paths to God’?
I believe there are many paths to Jesus Christ but only one path to God. The biggest threat in the book is a Christian cult, the SSS, and I hope this makes clear that I am not defending all the manmade institutions of Christianity. The large Christian institutions are, I believe, in some way bound up with the destinies of nations. But my primary assertion and faith is that Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity are basic aspects of reality itself. The various religions of the world, including Christianity, are evolving and have been since the Resurrection. In 2077 they are coalescing even while retaining their distinct rituals and cultures. Ever since the Resurrection the very nature of the reality in which these religions exist is changing in response to what I call the Divine Light, a kind of manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
The book also introduces new forms of pair bonding and family structure in response to a 300 year lifespan voluntarily available through Life Extension. Are these just ideas or do you seriously think they might come about later this century?
This aspect of the book is intended simply to remind people that if it becomes possible to so control our biology it will have repercussions for the way we organize society, even to the extent of restructuring the family unit and the pairing of parents. The priority, in my view, is to create an institution which rests on integrity, honesty and loyalty as well as true Christian (agape, not romantic) love, so that children can thrive and develop. There is no way that any mortal being can dictate what the structure should be. It will have to be carried out in humility before God, deep prayer and adjusted, even radically changed, over the centuries.
People who have read 2077 say it is compulsive and thought provoking. Is there anything about the book you would change if given the chance?
Yes. I think I introduced too much terminology for new technology in the first few pages for some of the non-SF fans to be able to assimilate easily. Not that this is necessary to enjoy the story - it is there primarily as a background to set it in a future context. People I know who have read it say it is gripping, so I hope non-technical readers will not be put off.
You became a Christian while writing the book. Were you guided by the Holy Spirit?
All Christians are guided by the Spirit when they truly submit. I certainly became aware that the plot and relations between the characters was unfolding according to a plan which I was only dimly aware of. The thoughts of the main character, Roscoe , as he matures and interacts with women seem almost to have written themselves. As he enters into a romantic triangle and this develops into a quadrangle he encounters moral choices which reflect my own struggle and hopefully will help others on their journey.
Are any of the characters based on people you know or have known?
All or none. Each is a conglomerate of various people who have been unfortunate enough to encounter me on their journey through life. The reflections of the main character, Roscoe Finlay, do echo my own struggles and outlooks as I progressed from non-believer to committed Christian.
What locations are used? Are these real or fictional?
Various real places on Earth and Mars are used, together with a number of fictional locations on the Earth of the future. Where ethnic cleansing takes place it is always somewhere fictional because this can happen anywhere at any time in history. No country or racial group or religion can consider itself immune. Germany moved from a secular democracy to a totalitarian Nazi regime in less than 5 years,
How can people contact you?
Through my email address firstname.lastname@example.org