Goodreads Author Post Virtual Book Tour

Guest Post on Becoming Extraordinary

Becoming Extraordinary is the twelfth stop in my virtual book tour for “Can Machines Bring Peace?”.
Read the guest post here.

Becoming Extraordinary is the twelfth stop in my virtual book tour.

Hi, Sherrie. Thank you so much for having me on your site. I really like how you’re fascinated by superpowers, because deep down you believe each of us has extraordinary abilities we can draw on when forced to deal with dangers in our own lives. I never thought of it that way. I tend to believe each of us does have cool abilities that help us do extraordinary things. At least we’re both optimistic about what each of us can do.

Hello, everyone. Sherrie asked me about my novel “Can Machines Bring Peace? Hope in a Post-Apocalyptic Age”:

How much vocabulary did you create for your world of the future and what, if anything, did you use to guide the creation of your words?

Boiling it down to the actual answer to that question, I only created one new word. But I’d like to explain the principles of the world building I did, and why it only led to one word.

I didn’t create an entirely new world, I retrofitted the existing one. The novel is set in Japan of the 25th century. However, it has a 1930s vibe, because of the loss of modern technology after the Final War. So, in a sense, it became a historical setting. And most of my research was on Japan today and in the past.

Besides, you don’t really need new vocabulary when dealing with the Japanese Imperial Family. A Japanese emperor can have several names. Let me give you an example with the previous emperor Akihito: During his reign, in Japan, Akihito was never referred to by his name, but only by “His Majesty the Emperor”. The era of his reign from 1989 to 2019 bears the name Heisei, and according to custom he will be renamed Emperor Heisei after his death.

In my novel, Empress Suiko starts out as Princess Nukatabe. I took the name from Japanese history. Suiko was the first of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant, an empress who rules, not an empress because she’s the emperor’s wife.

So, do I really need new vocabulary?!

But I did need new technology.

I needed to adapt existing technological knowledge to the 1930s. The backstory is that just before the Final War, the Japanese government quickly built underground vaults. However, during that time primary systems began failing as well. Specifically, air filtering systems. Those suddenly broke down in more than half the vaults, killing everyone living there. They simply couldn’t revert those systems in time. Then, a brilliant engineer called Kirisu Mikase literally saved the Empire. She developed an oxygen-assisted aluminum/carbon dioxide power cell that uses electrochemical reactions to both sequester carbon dioxide and produce electricity. In one amazing swoop, air filtration systems kept working and also became efficient energy producers.

Her innovation led to more hydrogen-based energy. Because they didn’t have enough room in the vaults, they needed a power source that could be stored efficiently: electro-chemical hydrogen can be packed into small power cells. And with the CO2 sequestering power source, manufacturing hydrogen wasn’t a problem anymore. The cells are used to power surface households, factories and even airplane engines.

And, for the Thinking Machine computer, I needed vacuum tubes technology. A rudimentary model would need 3000 tubes. This has to do with the amount of memory that can be stored into the tubes. The vault engineers improved upon the basic vacuum tube by creating vacuum-channel transistors. An important benefit was that these were just as easily fabricated. By using field emission rather than the thermionic electron emission, the vacuum-channel transistors don’t require a heat source. And they don’t really need vacuum either. Instead, they use helium. That means the electrons traverse the air gap a lot faster than if they had to pass through an electrode. So, they are smaller and can be packaged more effectively.

No new vocabulary here either, I’m afraid.

So, what about that one new word: “tairikusei”. It means “continental” in the novel. And it is used as a derogatory word for outsider. I didn’t want to use existing Japanese words for obvious reasons. The protagonist is the son of Russian parents (or what’s left of it).  And in the traditionalistic setting of the 1930s Japan his heritage doesn’t work in his favor. However, he and his band of outcasts-in-their-own-way actually build a machine that brings peace. And it’s their diversity that makes them succeed.

No new words, but an age old story.