Jim Cronin is a “Science Edutainer” and the author of Hegira – a time travel novel which I recently read and reviewed I was really impressed with the breadth of scope – a time travel methodology which could probably be justified in science, world building and aliens – and it’s all really well written!
Hegira is the first book in “The Brin Archives”; Book 2 is “Recusant”, and Book 3 is under way! 🙂
In this author interview Jim tells us more of his thoughts regarding time, science and how he’d react if he met a clone of himself!
Jim, many thanks for giving us some of your time!
There’s an interesting detail in your time travel method – that there’s a slight inaccuracy in the destination time location. Cheap air companies often come under fire for dropping passengers to airports well outside their selected destination. Will we be forgiving for a temporal version of this misplacement?
Jim: Yes, that is a major source of frustration in today’s air travel. I put this discrepancy into the Skae’s time travel ability as a way to make them not so infallible. Everyone needs a little imperfection so we can relate to them. As the story progresses in future installments of the story, this, and other, character flaws provide for exploitable weaknesses. They are not who we think they are.
You explain the idea that if changes made back in time are like a stone being thrown on a pond which causes ripples (into the future), then by acting on the perimeter where the ripples are small and less significant then there is less danger of upsetting the future. To push this analogy further – is it possible that even huge changes in history can have little impact on the present / future if we wait long enough (when the ripples are insignificantly small)?
Jim: Interesting question. If the initial disturbance is large enough, then one would have to travel very far into the future to see the diminishing effects. A large boulder thrown into a pond creates waves rather than ripples which can travel much farther and do a great deal more damage. However, even tidal waves which wreak havoc in Japan have only minimal disturbances in San Francisco.
On his trip back to the past Karm was very much aware that he needed to maintain the (previous) course of history. This gives us the idea that there’s no destiny, but that people can shape their own future. Is there such a thing as destiny?
Jim: I am not a big believer in destiny. Individuals can either give in to the forces at work around them and let others dictate what their lives will be like, or they can take charge and control over their life and make it what they want. There are, of course, limits and exceptions to this. Not everyone can be a Nobel Laureate or Olympic champion, but you can make the best of what talents and abilities you have.
You mention in your Goodreads profile that you get to “…dress up like an astronaut and go to Mars”. The Brin world of Dyan’ta is incredibly layered and detailed. Would you like to live there?
Jim: I have always been fascinated by the idea of life on other worlds. Of course I would jump at the chance to at least visit Dyan’ta. But I would have to have the ability to return to Earth so I can be with my wife and family. I have an amazing granddaughter with two more grandbabies on the way, so I wouldn’t want to miss watching them grow up.
Would you rather travel in space or in time?
Jim: Wow, that’s like asking if I want cake or ice cream. Both would be amazing. However, If forced to choose, I think travelling through space would be an incredible experience. I remember being fascinated by the Mercury and Gemini and Apollo missions as a kid, and now anticipating the first manned mission to Mars is phenomenal. I wish I could afford a ticket on the first public transport into space.
You describe yourself on your website as a “science edutainer”. Is science naturally fun or do you need to work it to make it so?
Jim: To me, science is fun, exciting, challenging, and absolutely fascinating. I have been a science geek ever since I can remember. I spent thirty-five years teaching science and, hopefully, making it fun and interesting for my students. Now, I get the share that enjoyment with people of all ages at the museum where I work part-time. By becoming an astronaut on Mars, or shooting off liquid nitrogen geysers, or allowing people to get up close and personal with real hearts and lungs (sheep, not human) I can open up their imaginations to what might be possible for them and awaken a curiosity into the amazing world around them.
How much does science influence your everyday life? Do you think there can ever be too much science in life?
Jim: Too much science? Our lives are surrounded and based on science. The technology we use, the air we breathe, our physical bodies, everywhere we go science surrounds us. I think I drive my wife crazy sometimes when we are on a trip and I constantly point out some incredible science tidbit about what we are seeing or doing.
You tackle the fuzzy areas between science, morals and religion in Hegira. Do you foresee a future where there will be less friction between these areas?
Jim: I often refer to myself as terminally optimistic. I loved Star Trek because of its positive outlook on the future. While the road will be strewn with many obstacles, I do indeed see a future where our better nature prevails and we find that balance between science and faith. The two, despite some objections to the contrary, are not mutually exclusive. They simply provide us with windows into two very different aspects of the universe around us.
How would you react if you met a clone of yourself but who was older than you?
Jim: Interesting. An older clone would seem to imply that he came back from a future time. I would be torn between wanting to know everything about the future, and not wanting to know for fear of ruining the adventure of getting there the slow way.
Is it easy to find time to relax?
Jim: I always used to think I would have plenty of time to relax once I retired. Now that I am, I find I am so busy with all the things I want to do that time to simply sit back and relax is a rare luxury. My favorite thing to do for relaxation is to visit and play with my granddaughter. After I finish writing the conclusion to my trilogy, I may try to get back into bicycle riding and fly fishing, but who knows? Only time will tell.
I’m really pleased to learn that the sequel to Hegira (Recusant) is ready, and also that the final installment in the series is well under way. Can you tell us a little about these latter two novels?
Jim: In Recusant, we find the Brin about three-hundred years into the future. The main protagonist, Maliche Rocker, is a descendant of Jontar and Maripa, the heroes of Hegira. Maliche is a bit of a loner and an outcast, a black cat of the family since he is pursuing a career in the field of archaeology instead of genetics. In his field work, he stumbles across some artifacts which seem to indicate the Kolandi, an indigenous people thought to be long extinct, may still be alive. The story takes on an adventure of discovery with Maliche as he uncovers a dark secret of greed, slavery, and betrayal perpetrated by powerful members of the Brin ruling class, and even his own family.
The final installment, Empyrean, is where we learn the true nature of the Skae and the origins of their war with the Gorvin. The hybrid children of Brin and Kolandi mating’s have the ability to control technology much as Karm and Maliche’s biocomputer did, but without artificial technology. Maliche and a small group of followers travel through space and time to uncover the secrets hidden by the Skae and risk everything to put an end to plans which threaten the galaxy.