Interview: Guy Hasson, author of The Emoticon Generation

Courtesy of the lovely Andrea at Little Red Reviewer, please welcome Guy Hasson, author of The Emoticon Generation, to the blog! Wait, something seems to have happened…oh dear…

emoticongenerationGuy, will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’m sorry, Guy isn’t here right now. My name is Newton. I am the AI Guy created in order to help him deal with anything that might come up while he’s away. I answer his phone when he’s in the bathroom, I do interviews when he’s not home, and I drive while he texts.

I keep telling him that if he has the technology to create such an advanced AI as myself, he should share it with the world rather than just use it to answer interview questions and type while he dictates. But whenever I bring that up, he erases parts of my code. So I promised never to bring that up again. Which I never do, as you can clearly see.

So. Here we are. Answering questions about The Evil One.

Here’s what I can tell you about him and writing. Where most normal people look at the world and see objects or, say, people, Guy looks at the world and sees stories. From as far back as he remembers, all he sees is stories. Looking at people, he sees where they’ve been and where they might be going. Hearing conversations, his ears act like a recording device and store that information for future dialogue. Words that are spoken are not only understood in context, but taken out of context to see where the same words would have more of a dramatic effect. The world, seen through his eyes, is a never-ending quantum soup of stories that appear and disappear.

Did The Evil One always want to be a writer, you ask? (Being an AI, I actually have phenomenal memory and remember what you asked; I’m repeating the question because I think you don’t remember.) Well, he did, and at the same time he couldn’t be anything but. When he doesn’t write, the stories build up within him until they explode through his fingers, like a volcano.

Oh, well, hello Newton… Will you tell us about Guy’s short story collection,The Emoticon Generation?
I gotta tell you, I hate his new book. Science fiction should be about spaceships in the far off future, adventures in strange lands, or dystopian tales that prove once and for all how you, the human race, totally suck.

But that’s not what he wrote about. He didn’t write about the far off future. He didn’t even write about the near future. He wrote about tomorrow, or, in some cases, yesterday. Too many of the stories in The Emoticon Generation are so borderline reality, that it’s sometimes hard to tell if he’s not talking about something that’s actually been going on and you just haven’t read the right news item yet.

In the story The Emoticon Generation for example, he takes emoticons and the present texting trends and stretches them as far as they could go, while mixing real news items and even real items from The Colbert Report with conjecture that could actually be taking place as we speak. In the story Hatchling he found a new way to make a human being, one that could very well have already been born as far back as the year 2,006, just like the heroine of the story.

But there are also other stories there, like The Assassination. In that story, Guy uses the ability to peer into the past to unravel the entire life and personality of an old man. Guy deconstructs the man in real time, then rebuilds him. Why would he do that? Ah, who knows? Or, in my case, who cares?

What do you think Guy would like for readers to take away from the stories in The Emoticon Generation?
Having listened to Guy rant on and on and onnnnnn about his stories and what they mean, I can tell you none of it means anything. He wants to blow your minds. He wants to make you see yourselves and the world you live in in a completely different light. Like that’s going to happen. Like reading anything could change you. Come on. You know, I have my programming, so nothing’s going to change me except my programmer. You’ve been programmed, too – in the hardware as well as the software. Do you think reading a book will change your program? Be serious!

Would you call Guy a plotter or a pantser?
Oh, dear, dear, dear, that’s a sore subject for me. Have you ever heard an AI sigh? It’s the saddest thing you’ve ever heard. He’s a plotter, all right. He plans everything ahead of time, then he replans, then he reconstructs, until it’s perfect in his eyes. I have heard so much about his process, and about how he crafts every story in a way that fits its idea and what that story has to say, to make each story entirely unique and self-dependent of any genre, that I… Oh, sigh. And I keep hearing about it and hearing about it with every new story he writes. Every. New. Story.

Not only that. After he plans everything until he feels it’s perfect, he’s only happy having written a scene if it comes out better than the way he planned it. An author can’t really judge whether something is can be made better, he says, so his criteria is that every aspect of the story, book, play, or script, needs to be better than it was originally planned. Only then can he move on.

julesverneWhat are some of Guy’s biggest literary influences?
Shh, don’t let The Evil One hear you. He doesn’t believe in influences, you see. Sure, he read a lot of books in his formative years, and Jules Verne, Asimov, and Heinlein helped shape what he likes. And sure, later on he read and loved Hemingway for his truth, Dickens for his… well, his ability to do anything an author can do better than any author seems to have done, and a bunch of others. But he’ll tell you he does his best to be completely and truly himself. He’ll tell you that he worked very hard to be able to write in any technique, so that when he finds a path he wants to take, he’ll be able to take his own straight path, and not Asimov’s path or Hemingway’s path, or anyone else’s path.

What do you think Guy enjoys most about writing SF?
Finally, an easy question. Guy really likes two things: To blow the reader’s minds (he tests that on me, and my programming literally blows me up in a small explosion, then reconstructs me) and to create a plot that keeps the readers glued to the page. Hatchling and Her Destiny are the stories that do that the most in The Emoticon Generation, and he’s really proud of them for those reasons.

secretthoughtsWhat do you look for in a good book?
Truth, justice, and the American way.

Ah, no, wait, I thought you were asking me that. No, I think Guy’s answer would be similar, which is why I got the answers confused. Guy likes what he tries to write: He likes truth, he likes a good plot, and he likes to have his mind blown by something new.

If Guy could experience one book again for the very first time, which one do you think would it be?
I think Guy doesn’t know the answer to that, being emotionally stunted and completely unaware of his own feelings and desires, but I think I’ve got a good grasp of what he likes. I think the one book he would like to be able to read without having any memory of it is Murder at the ABA by Isaac Asimov. It’s actually a realistic murder mystery, not an SF story, and he considers it one of Asimov’s best. It’s a great mystery, has realistic dramatic characters and interactions (even casual sex, which is rare for Asimov), and is built to perfection. On a third or fourth read, the book is slightly marred by the fact that you know ahead of time what Asimov is doing to fool you and lead you on.

What’s next up for Guy?
I’m going to wait till he falls asleep, then kill him.

Newton…

Ah, no, sorry. You were asking him. Sorry about that. He’s doing three things now. He’s currently serializing online his newest fantasy novel, Tickling Butterflies. Tickling Butterflies will be published later this year in Israel, translated into Hebrew. And he’s in talks with another European publisher about translating it to another language. The novel is about a fairy tale world, where all our fairy tales come to life. King John the Cute, who has a prophecy of death hanging over his head, needs to save his land in the two years he has left to live. He uncovers all the secrets of his own land, including the existence of another land called Earth, a land without magic, a land without Fates, a land with no happy endings – but also, a land of storytellers and storymakers.

Tickling Butterflies is created out of 128 fairy tales that together form one epic fairy tale. A new fairy tale is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

At the same time, Guy is finishing work on The Indestructibles. The Indestructibles is an epic SF film about superheroes, a film that spans centuries and should have cost hundreds of millions of dollars. He found a way to do the film by himself for 250 dollars, and wrote, directed, shot, and produced it. He’s going to release it for free on the web in a few weeks, and it’s going to premiere in the UtopiaFest 2013 film festival in October. You can check out The Indestructibles film blog.

Lastly, he’s also becoming a comic books publisher. At the end of July, he’ll release a New Worlds Comics app for the iPad, iPhone, and Android. In it, you’ll be able to buy New Worlds Comics titles. Right now, it’s a start-up and he’s written the first three titles. When it earns enough money, he’ll pull more writers in to write new titles in his vision of artistic freedom. This is his ridiculous attempt to achieve artistic and financial freedom at the same time.

Absurd, isn’t it? In any case, the first title is called Goof, and it’s a comedy about the goofiest, dorkiest superhero you’ve ever seen. You can catch a preview of it here. The second and third titles – I can’t say anything about them yet, except that one’s science fiction, the other is fantasy, and both of them have things in them you’ve never seen before in comic books (or anywhere else).

Well, I guess that’s it for the interview. It was nice to vent about Guy, so thanks for the opportunity. I don’t get to do that when he’s here. I wonder why he made me hate him so much when he programmed me? Oh, right. He’s an emotionally stunted sociopath.

Keep up with Guy: Website | Twitter

Guy also participated in this week’s SF Signal MIND MELD (The future of humans and AI) post that I curated!

Read the Little Red Reviewer’s interview with Guy

emoticongenerationAbout THE EMOTICON GENERATION:
Guy Hasson’s The Emoticon Generation features 7 stories that blur the borders between our world and science fiction: a man who seeks to learn if true love really exists; a girl who learns a terrible truth about herself; a man who wants to immortalize his genius but ends up tricking himself out of it; an old hero whose entire life unravels when the truth about his heroic act is revealed; and more.

5 Comments:

  1. best. interview. ever!

    and especially entertaining, since Guy Hasson was just on MindMeld the other day talking about how A.I.’s are pretty much harmless.

    Newton totally needs his own twitter feed.

  2. Absolutely brilliant!
    I’ve got to start reading Tickling Butterflies – I know I’m going to love it1
    Lynn 😀

  3. Pingback: An Interview with Newton, My Personal AI | Guy Hasson's Imagination

  4. Now that was a highly entertaining interview. Although I do hope that Newton doesn’t get around to killing Guy in his sleep as Guy is too busy entertaining his readers.

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