Author Tour Interview: WH Buxton, author of Cyberlife

Today we have the second WFTM stop for the Cyberlife author tour hosted by Pump Up Your Book.  WH Buxton, author of Cyberlife, was nice enough to answer some questions related to his book and to share a bit more about the world he has created.  If you'd like to read my review of the book, you can find that here.  To give you an idea of what the book is about, here's the summary from Goodreads:

The year is 2069 and Jim Murphy thinks he has the world pretty much figured out, as a Knowledge Management Consultant (whatever that is!) muddling through various technology consulting jobs. That is, until his company, SciPop Inc., assigns him to work a particularly unusual project involving the acquisition of a small backpacking and hiking services business owned by techno-hater Laura Meyers. Jim, however, never works alone. He, like everyone else in the world, is armed with the ultimate technology super-support tool: a personalized, artificially intelligent, holographic Virtual Life form, more commonly known as a Vertal, named Jasper. Just as Jim lives, works and socializes in the physical world; Jasper lives, works, and socializes in the Cybersphere, coexisting and coordinating on behalf of Jim with other Vertals as both navigate the world of the Cybersphere; a 24/7 on-line computer world connecting everyone to everything. Everyone uses it, but in order to use it, you need a Vertal. Somehow, Laura Meyers has learned to exist in the Cybersphere without a Vertal, unfathomable to Jim, Jasper or anyone else at SciPop. But as Jim works the project, he soon discovers there is much more going on in the Cybersphere than SciPop's acquisition of this small, unassuming business when Jasper suddenly goes missing. Jim discovers SciPop has a much bigger and darker plan for "Laura's Hikes" than just a simple acquisition of one of the few non-technical companies left in existence. Much more. Welcome to CyberLife: A weeklong initiation into the cybercentric universe of techno-biologic symbiosis which is considered by all to be perfectly organized, functional, efficient, and effective. As long as Jim, Laura and Jasper follow the rules and regulations of SciPop. Which, so far, they have tended not to do very well.

I'd like to thank WH Buxton for taking the time to answer a few of my questions and the team at Pump Up Your Book for including us in this blog tour.  On with the interview:

Q:  From the very beginning of CyberLife, there's a lot of language that newbies would probably consider "technical jargon".  What would you tell someone who's intimidated by the technological aspect of CyberLife to put their minds at ease and get them to read it?

 A: It’s really not a technical book, but in order to understand the environment, I needed to walk a non-tech person through some of the terms. I’ve kept those to an absolute minimum. The story is really about our relationship with Technology and how it has integrated itself into almost every facet of our lives. CyberLife is written for non-technical people, as are CyberSapien(2012) and CyberSavior (2013).


Q:  The technology in your world is very thoroughly thought out.  How much research - if any - did you do before or while writing CyberLife?

A: I spend quite a bit of time looking at various technology applications and trends. Not just for this book (series) but for my job as a KM consultant working within the Department of Defense. Most of the systems I describe in the book are under development in some form or have already been developed but are not in widespread use.  I am constantly reading through various websites and whitepapers about advances in technology, process mapping, and cognitive systems design. It should not be surprising at all to have talking appliances which share data amongst each other! And since most people are not “Tech Savvy” I’ve created the environment that is socially oriented, which I think makes more sense, than a hard technical- push approach. More people friendly, and therefore, better accepted.


Q: What's the significance behind calling the virtual reality counterparts "Vertals"?  Where did that name come from?

A: The term was coined from the name “Virtual Life Form” and I chose it as it as an easy way to remember what these interactive holographic projections really are. Think of a Vertal as a walking, talking super-smartphone. They handle all the complexity of working within the Cybersphere (Advanced Internet), and stays with you throughout your life. It’s as if owning a cellphone which you keep forever, handles all your informational problems, and never needs an upgrade or becomes outdated.


Q: If you had your very own Vertal, what daily tasks would you have it do so you wouldn't have to?

A: Pretty much anything I didn’t want to do myself, excluding physical labor, of course. A Vertal is an extension of you…in other words, to understand the principle character, Jim Murphy; you also need to look at his Vertal. One of the basic tenants of Knowledge Management is “getting the right information to the right person at the right time.” Making that cycle happen is what a Vertal is designed to do. But that information needs to come to you in a manner in which you’ll understand it so you can make good decisions from it; that’s why Vertals are designed around a psychological profile of its owner…we all process information differently, and Vertals provide that contextual bridge to allow for a common


Q: If you could have one of the talking appliances in Jim's apartment, which would you choose and why?

A: either Sr. Coffee or the Boozemaster 3000; because they will know my habits better than anyone else (excluding a Vertal, of course!).   I purposely chose not to give them a voice in CyberLife but they may find their voice in the upcoming books…you’ll have to wait and see!


 Q: How would you best describe CyberLife to someone who's not familiar with the Cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction?

A: It’s a story of relationships and contradictions, and how, through the development of intelligently interactive IT systems, we’re really creating a cyber-centric version of ourselves.  What’s interesting is now that we’ve created this world, what could it possibly develop into, and what would happen if it suddenly disappeared.  That’s the underlying subject of the next two books in this three book series.