A Biopunk Stew
I’ve got a little secret to share: the best part about blog tours, at least as far as I’m concerned, isn’t talking about your own work. And yes, while the throngs of adoring fans, beautiful women, private jets, and piles of money might seem glamorous…well, they are. But even the decadence gets boring after a while. The thing that never gets old, however, is also my favorite part of promoting Kingdom: the opportunity to talk about the novels that influenced my work, and the writers who changed my life.
The following is a list of the 10 books that had the greatest impact on both myself as a writer, and on the ideas and styles that, when mixed together, yielded the biopunk thriller I call Kingdom.
- · The Stand. Apocalyptic masterpiece. I read it, for the first time, over the course of several sweltering July nights in high school. One of the first times I remember really wanting to be a writer; being envious of a story someone else had written—a jealously that drove me to try and get better at telling more complex stories.
- · Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. A collection of James’ Gifford lectures on natural theology, this book is the source of a number of ideas I tried to weave into Kingdom. I’m still not sure how successful I was in this endeavor, but James’ philosophy will continue to play a large role in the final two parts of the Tiber City Trilogy.
- · Quinsigamond Series: The Resurrectionist by Jack O’Connell. I’m sure everyone following the promotion for Kingdom is sick of hearing me rave about Jack O’Connell, but the man is a mad genius, a neo-noir pulp prophet, and the godfather of biopunk. If you aren’t familiar with his work, check it out.
- · American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. Not much that can be said here that hasn’t already been said. Over and over and over again. But one thing that gets lost in all the hype and hoopla over the violence and misogyny is that, at its heart, this is a morality tale. And BEE can turn a sentence like few other writers, living or dead. His mechanics can be complex, but trying to mimic his prose added, for better or worse, added a level of sophistication to my writing
- · The Bible. Regardless of religious belief, these stories are killer. And a cultural literacy, at least in the Western world, demands an understanding of these tales of creation, death, and resurrection.
- · Hamlet. Literature’s first forgotten boy, the Prince of Denmark was dragged into the modern world kicking and screaming. At least initially, anyway. The blueprint for Dylan Fitzgerald.
- · Ovid’s Metamorphoses. A collection of stories that fueled so much of the great works of the Renaissance—the stories that sparked Marlowe and Shakespeare and a host of other geniuses.
- · Dark Tower Series. King at his best. If I had to pick one, I’d go with The Gunslinger. “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslingerfollowed.” One of the best opening lines in fiction.
- · American Tabloid by James Ellroy. The writing is like a shotgun blast, and the audacious narrative is executed with such efficiency that Ellroy’s novel has colored my understanding of America in the 1960s. Honestly, I sometimes confuse Ellroy’s plot twists with actual historical events. Is there a higher compliment one can give a work of fiction?
- · Sprawl Trilogy by William Gibson. Even though Neuromancer is my favorite novel of all time, I included the whole trilogy because, when considered together, these three books create the ultimate sci-fi reading experience. The Sprawl, along with Ridley Scott’s visual presentation of Los Angeles in Blade Runner, were critical to the creation of Tiber City.
Is there a common thread here? I don’t know—and if there is, I’m not sure I want to know. But these books are the essential ingredients that give Kingdom its unique biopunk flavor. So if you dig Kingdom, and haven’t read these books, give them a shot. And if you don’t like Kingdom, don’t hold their influence on me against them—they still deserve a read.
Thanks for giving me a chance to share my thoughts, and I hope everyone enjoys Kingdom.
About the Author
Anderson O’Donnell presents a biopunk, dystopian noir-esque thriller in this amazing read, KINGDOM. Most people are familiar with the term “cyberpunk,” but “biopunk” is harder to nail down. In many ways, biopunk is similar to the cyberpunk genre, and shares many of the same themes and archetypes: the dystopian future; the overreliance on technology; mega-corporations; a constant and overwhelming flow of data; the anti-hero—these elements are integral parts of both genres.
Both genres are fueled, to some extent, by the sense of rebellion and desire for individual freedom expressed by the original punk rock revolution. But the main difference—the most important difference—is that while cyberpunk focuses on invasive technological modification of the human body, biopunk explores the dehumanizing consequences of biological modification, of re-arranging our DNA in the pursuit of perfection.
Anderson lives in Connecticut with his wife and 2 sons. Anderson himself deems Kingdom as “a thrill-a-minute, bio-punk myth that manages to wrestle with the most pressing issues of the new millennium. O’Donnell has crafted a kickass novel of tomorrow night, when the big party gets raided by the monsters we’ve been building for the last half-century.”
His debut novel, Kingdom, a dystopian, biopunk thriller, is now available in paperback and ebook format. Kingdom is the first part of the Tiber City Trilogy. Look for part two, Exile, in the summer of 2013.