Sunday, March 21, 2010

FutureWord Presents: R. Anthony Mahan, Author

FutureWord's featured author this month is R. Anthony Mahan. He has submitted his manuscript in a most extraordinary way. I like that. He actually posted part of it on a blog and asked for a publisher to contact him. Well, a lot of writers do that, but it was the way he did it. First things first, I asked him anonymously through his blog comments if he had a copyright on his manuscript. I had a strong fear of missing this train.

Then I turned around and sent an email to A. C. Crispin. If you don't know who that is then you probably never watch Star Trek, Star Wars, or you have never watched Alien Resurrection. She started out writing Fan Fiction then ended up as the first lady to ever hold the title of the Grand Master of Science Fiction.

Her response was one of concern for the amount of the novel that he had exposed without copyright. As was I. All of it was posted. Then she sent him a response and a couple of links that would have him schooled with others who are learning to write and learning how to query. She gave him advice to take it down. It was an amicable email that I would have framed, had I received it at his tender age.

He's ready NOW! I received an edited second copy of hs manuscript and was very impressed with the story.

I interviewed with him and sure enough, he is so solid in his knowledge of robotics and skilled in writing, disciplined to write and rewrite until he comes to a total stand still and there is a solid marketable product. After speaking with his mother, I had permission to seek a legal contract with him.

Here is his query letter.

I am eighteen years old and have aspired to be a writer since winning a short story contest in the fourth grade, which caused me to discover my newfound passion. I’ve always been fascinated by the potential that could lie within our future, and have thus selected science fiction as my genre of choice.

Having Asperger syndrome has caused me to find robots in fiction generally more relatable than human characters. Many conventional works of fiction have featured robots turning evil and rebelling, with humanity painted as the heroic figures fighting against them. However, mankind is not perfect, and in fact, humanity itself is perfectly capable of evil. Because of this I decided to create a deconstruction of the typical robot story. The robots never rebel, continuing to do the tasks they were programmed to, yet we see the human characters steadily de-evolving and committing atrocities against these machines. The novel attempts to examine how society would seriously be impacted by such machines existing and becoming widespread. Would businesses hiring these machines affect employment rates? Would violence against these robots become commonplace, and would new laws be necessary to prevent such action? What sort of person would be willing to invent these machines, and why? If these robots have the same level of intelligence as human beings, does this also include emotional intelligence? If circumstances called for it, could they feel anger, grief, or even love?

“But Whether Men Do” is an examination of the robot that provides a sobering punch of realism to the creature that has captivated the minds of science fiction readers for so long.

After a decade in hiding, Dr. Richard Danson has returned to unveil his greatest achievement: the SHEM (Synthetic Humanoid Emulation Machine), a robot that looks, talks, and is as intelligent as a human being. But the public eye is skeptical of Danson's creation. Fear of the SHEM becomes widespread, and the machines become widely vilified by a society that's become more worse and worse in retaliation. Danson is acting more unstable with each passing day,and one of his robots has confessed to an emotion she has never been programmed with!

"But Whether Men Do" is a thought-provoking examination of how technological advancement impacts society and what it means to be human. This science fiction novel weaves together science, politics, romance, and the human psyche to observe the nature of the world around us.

This is not a story about robots going wrong.
This is a story about humanity going wrong.

*The above blurb varies from the original query as the author added more ideas to the 100,000 word manuscript.

This is not the normal query. But, there is no right or wrong query for FutureWord on gifted individuals. It's a matter of selling the publisher on the idea of reading the manuscript. The manuscript told me he had the
 "write" stuff as well. His claim that he related better to robots than humans tells me that he must know a lot about robots because I found the conversation between us to create a brainstorm, and his manuscript to reflect a gift for script.

I went by his blogspot to see if he removed his script and saw his announcement that he was under consideration for publication. His goodbye comments went something like this:


Cheryl Haynes, publisher