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Hollywood writer Dennis Hackin and three-time Chimayo Press author, has always possessed a passion for writing, prolifically producing plays, movies, novels, and poems since the age of eight. Hackin’s Bronco Billy was adapted into a movie starring and directed by Clint Eastwood in 1980. His latest novel Android Roy is Chimayo Press’ first science fiction title.
1. Where did the inspiration for Android Roy originate from?
[I began to wonder] what is consciousness? What is all this? Why do I think? And then you look at computers and computers think–are we programming the computers or are they programming us? I like reading theology, and well, God created man, so I thought, what if God created Androids? I liked that concept… [that] maybe the Androids created man. Once day I was on a walk and I was thinking about Android. And then the name Roy. Android Roy. Android Roy, the Paranoid Android, it was like a poem almost.
2. Why did you decide to write a science fiction novel?
I’ve been writing science fiction for a long time. My dad was a reader and really instilled in us to read, and I always liked science fiction; I was drawn to it, be it movie or books. Living in a scientific world draws you into science. I don’t know a lot about science, but I like knowing about scientists. Scientists are interesting; they’re explorers. And writers are like detectives exploring new environments, new mysteries.
3. Describe the driving force behind the story’s plot.
It’s like a quest; there’s a journey. The idea was Dr. Paradox, who I love, who Android Roy thinks is his creator, is putting him out there in society. The real question is, if God created Androids, is Android Roy really the one seeing how society reacts to Androids? [Android Roy] doesn’t understand why he’s here because God just doesn’t tell you that.
4. Is Vanilla Swan based off a real-life influence?
The real Vanilla Swan is a scientist, a writer of fiction and collects praying mantises. She is the smartest person I know.
5. Who does the Paranoid Android represent?
The Paranoid Android represents humankind. Weapons are a human creation. I think in the beginning the arrow was meant to be for a hunter, to sustain the tribe. Then you had people thinking ‘Well wait a minute, I can sell arrows to the hunters, but there are people that are very aggressive. I can sell arrows to the conquerors’. I think that the Paranoid Android represents technology out of control.
6. What was one of your favorite scenes or chapters? How did it relate to the book as a whole?
I love the horseshoe competition, because I never saw that as a competitive sport. I like the human nature of what that was. Going up this pyramid, or the yellow brick world, there are portals that Android Roy enters. [The humans] think he’s becoming wiser to humanity, but God sees that he’s becoming wiser to God. God’s all alone. God wants Android Roy to really get closer to him.
7. What is the idea behind the Walled City?
The Walled City–like [ancient] China, where those that rule get the spoils. The idea is that Many are Called, Few are Chosen. Those that are Chosen get to choose their lifestyle, and it’s not concrete. Kind of gloomy, pre-Soviet era, kind of bleak. The people that are living in oppressive societies can rebel against oppression if they’re willing to give up the comforts of their kiosks. You see the fanatics willing to give up their lives. Where are the warriors of peace? Are they willing to give up their comfort? If not, the fanatics are going to take over.
8. What does the White Plague symbolize?
The White Plague represents man’s inhumanity. when gluttony takes over, when you are craving materialism, when you get off your moral compass–you create disease.
9. Throughout the novel, you emphasize the meaning of love and an Android’s ability to love. Can you elaborate why you chose to incorporate these themes?
Love is everything. Love is the great elixir of a writer. Without love, where is life? I love love. It takes two to have love, so when that happens, it’s a beautiful dance. But it’s not permanent. What’s permanent is the memory of love. How Android Roy love isn’t always human love. His love his dependent on the purity of what he believes love is: trust, truth, justice.
10. God appears in the novel as an idea and creator. What is your perception of God?
God is friend, God is father and mother, God is a magician and trickster, I’ve been angry at God, but I think that God can handle all the anger in the world, but God is not perfect. God reflects us. I’m God, you’re God. We’re all God.
11. How do you feel about the prevalence of technology in today’s society?
Elon Musk’s greatest fear is artificial intelligence over nuclear weapons. Real thinkers come at all different ages, like child prodigies. In the wrong hands, technology could attack human beings.
12. How do you hope your audience will react?
I have to leave that up to the reader. I can’t answer that question. I would hope that they got a laugh, got a tear, got a smile–they wouldn’t be fearful; they would be hopeful. When I read a book and the author taps into to best of who I am, I think. I’m hoping that it soothes them and makes them feel good. If they feel good, they’re having a better day, and I’ve helped humanity. It’s a chain reaction.
13. What does the future of Android Roy look like?
There will be more Android Roy books. I know I want to take Android Roy on his adventure to Freedomland. Freedomland is not quite as free as he thinks. Android Roy is also being sent out in regards to possibly being made as a movie or a CD-ROM game, or a graphic novel.
To purchase Android Roy, click here.
Jessica Lu, Chimayo Press summer intern, conducted this interview with Hackin to give readers a glimpse into the inner workings of the book. A fan of the book herself, she hopes this Q&A will illuminate the deeper aspects of the book for readers.