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Monday, October 1, 2012

Why Read The Saeshell Book of Time

Dare to dream of a world where your essence is the start of an adventure—your very core serves those around you and those around you appreciate and love who you truly are. Visualize technology derived from your life itself—technology which forms itself to serve your needs—technology that does not shape your mind but is shaped by it. Add to that a computer which watches over you with parental-like concern and can materialize into existence any form you can visualize. Your imagination is the tour guide of your mind. You are imagining a world seventy-three light years away. You are imagining Sophista. It’s because you are a Child of Sophista.

The Saeshell Book ofTime is indeed a live book. Much of the human mind is a giant pattern matching neural net. When it cannot find a pattern for a new situation it has encountered, it must build a net that matches the pattern of the new data. Frequently, there is not enough data to create the pattern. Rather than freezing like a panicked squirrel, it uses a unique device to prevent this—it uses “imagination” to fabricate data and finish the pattern.

The Saeshell Book ofTime is unique in that it exploits this aspect of the human mind; by refusing to complete a pattern essential to the story it forces the reader to complete it themselves. It is a function the human mind must perform compulsively. Quite simply, the book is alive because it is made from you—made from your own mind. By each reader completing the pattern, each reader creates a unique experience for themselves. What each reader thinks and says about the book is a reflection of who they are. I deliberately implemented this structure in the book to force my target gifted teen audience to argue about the book and what it means or what its philosophical implications are. Every reader comes away with a different concept of the book created by differing mental prejudices they brought with them. 

The biggest piece of technology a gifted teen possesses is their own mind—technology or a tool derived from their life itself. Thinking of it as tool allows much greater control of it—and the story shows situations where the tool becomes unruly. It also shows that these episodes of unruliness are not causes for disaster, but moments of learning and exposé of deeper aspects of the tool that they were unaware of.

One of the mischievous pranks I played in the book was to obscure what was science fiction and science fact. Many times, what appears to be science fiction is actually science fact. A good fantasy keeps you guessing so that you are forced to imagine the whole serial as reality. In that vein, Tova is the actual composition of a number of real people. I remember while writing her characterization coming across a story of a high school person in Silicon Valley where I live, who discovered that their father was suffering from a genetic disease. She was able to get her father’s genome sequenced and using an Excel spreadsheet, and after six months, locate the defective genetic sequence. She, along with other researchers, was able to write a paper describing the mechanism of a disease previously not understood.  There are a number of Tovas in the world. My hope in writing the fictionalized characters of the serial is to provide a metaphor with which gifted teens can take comfort and feel acceptance.

The school in the book is based on the slight extension of an existing Silicon Valley school, the advanced mathematics program used in the book a small extension of symbolic manipulation programs currently used in mathematics, the basis for the advanced life form’s mind based on an extension of a paper from Cambridge Neuroscience… There are many people today, hidden from the public eye, with breathtaking talents. Like the Children of Sophista, they feel that they would not be well received by the public.

In some sense, I hope that not only will gifted teens take comfort in the book but that everyone will stretch their imaginations as to what is possible and realize, in an approximate, metaphoric way, the passions and thoughts that drive the gifted among us. And whether or not you sympathize with the metaphoric connection the book has to giftedness, I hope you enjoy this multi-volume saga for its unique perspective it brings with the merging of science fiction and fantasy.

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