One of the delights of conference/convention attendance is meeting exciting new writers. During Thrillerfest 2006 in Phoenix I had the delightful pleasure to talk to Jeffrey Anderson, a writer whose debut novel Sleeper Cell was nominated for the inaugural thriller award. I was intrigued talking to Anderson as Technothrillers are one of my passions, and meeting this new talent excited me to discover more about his work for Shots Ezine. I would urge you to grab a copy of Sleeper Cell. Ali Karim
The Once and Future Science Thriller
I know you’re out there.
It’s a simple matter of probability theory. Like the Drake Equation on the probability of finding extraterrestrial life.
In fact, I know everything about you. When you used to watch Star Trek, you grumbled to your hip, intelligent friends about how cool it would be if the screenwriters didn’t ignore relativity. You irked your dates at the Cineplex by telling them that the loud explosions in space kind of spoil the mood, because after all it’s a vacuum and how can sound waves travel through a vacuum anyway?
When you were a kid you used to get dirty looks from your Sunday school teacher when you asked inappropriate questions about the microenvironment of Noah’s ark. You get turned on by women who talk in a sultry voice about nanofabrication. It spoils foreplay when your man turns off the TV before Nova ends. You ask at the dentist why they can’t subscribe to Scientific American instead of Muscle and Fitness.
I know you’re leaving on vacation soon and you’re dying for a good read, and I know that last Saturday you wandered through the bookstore wondering if you just missed the news and it turns out that the clerk was mistaken and there actually is a new Michael Crichton thriller on shelf, and it’s like old times, like Jurassic Park or Sphere or Andromeda Strain, and it’s SITTING RIGHT HERE…
Yup. Have the same daydreams. Too bad you’re not here or we could talk shop. I’m hanging out in a Phoenix coffee shop listening to the house version of elevator music and reminiscing about the fascinating writers and readers I met at ThrillerFest. And I’m trying to figure out how I missed all the science thrillers.
Don’t get me wrong, you can’t throw a cat around here without hitting an amazing storyteller. But it’s a little lonely. There are military and political and medical and legal and paranormal romance thrillers. There are technothrillers, but they usually end up being about submarine chases or espionage thrillers with a sprinkling of high-tech gadgets.
But where are the deep probing thrillers that change the way we view dark energy, the soul, and the cosmos? Where are the ones that boil off the oceans and melt the icecaps, where the latest in genetic engineering and nanotechnology and microrobotics take you where people are risking the violent demise of millions to ask the really big questions about nature? Where are the thrillers with scientific ideas as big as the heroes?
So here’s my shot across the bow. It’s time to bring back the science thriller. And I intend to do my part. I can’t fill a bookstore with titles, and would love the company if any of you scientists out there want to join the cause. But I can offer up two titles, and after an obscene amount of training think I’ve got the stuff to get the science right. But now I’m headed home to bone up on my quantum mechanics because I have a killer idea for book three and don’t want to disappoint you. See you around, friends.
SLEEPER CELL (Berkley, April 2005)
Modern war has moved from trenches to benchtop. In this world of nanotechnology, high performance computing, and genomic engineering, an elite Pentagon think tank plays wargames against a handful of opponents waging the deadliest war in history. Sleeper Cell, a thriller with plausible science in its smallest details, tells the story of an emerging bioterror landscape, one that may already have its seeds in premier universities on American soil.
A nationally bestselling title in the United States, Sleeper Cell has been nominated for 2006 International Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original Thriller.
SECOND GENESIS (Jove, Coming July 25, 2006)
In the heart of the Amazon jungle, someone is playing God, with unnerving success. At a stem cell research laboratory in western Brazil, scientists take evolution into their own hands with the creation of a genetically engineered, fully sentient chimpanzee.
In a thriller that races through the rainforest as it probes into the ethics and future of high-tech, high-stakes germline manipulation, the team of scientists solves a mystery about the discovery that could change humanity forever. As time runs out on their fight for their own survival, they face the ultimate questions about God, the soul, and what it means to be the caretakers of intelligent life on the planet.
JEFFREY ANDERSON pursued graduate studies in abstract mathematics before receiving his MD and PhD degrees from Northwestern University in neurobiology. In his education, he had formal concentrations in chemistry, physics, psychology, Russian literature, and molecular biology. His research on the brain has been published in Science, Nature Neuroscience, and Neuron, among other publications. He is currently a neuroradiology fellow at the University of Utah, and runs a brain imaging laboratory where he uses functional MRI to study multiple sclerosis as well as the basic science of attention, emotion, and visual imagery. He lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and their four small entropy machines.