Today I am interviewing Daniel Godfrey, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Synapse Sequence.
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DJ: Hi Daniel! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Daniel Godfrey: Hello! I am a science fiction writer from northern England. My first novel, New Pompeii, was included in both the Financial Times’ and Morning Star’s ‘Books of 2016’ lists. It was followed by a sequel, Empire of Time.
My latest novel, The Synapse Sequence, is a stand-alone SF thriller.
DJ: What is The Synapse Sequence about?
Daniel: The novel revolves around two competing technologies that are being used to solve crime. The first, preferred by the police, uses algorithm and AI to focus resources based on likelihood and probability. The second is the newly developed ‘Synapse Sequencer’ which allows an investigator (our hero!) to explore memories via a VR-style environment.
The central crime of the novel – the catalyst for the action – is the kidnap of a teenage girl… but the only person who might know what happened has been knocked into a coma. To prove the Sequencer has a place in law enforcement, our hero has to find the girl before the AIs and their army of bots.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Synapse Sequence?
Daniel: I’ve been fascinated for a number of years about the deployment of AI technology. It seems to be everywhere in the news at the moment, from medicine, to law enforcement, to call centres. It got me thinking about what that would actually mean for policing in the future. Is there room for a traditional detective in this setting? Would there be room for alternative ways of solving crimes?
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Daniel: My main character is a former air crash investigator called Anna Glover. I figured that if aeroplane technology / reliability continues to improve then there would be fewer crashes and less need for air crash investigators. Anna’s last crash investigation also got very messy and political. She was essentially pushed out. But the overall skillset I thought would make a great detective.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Synapse Sequence like?
Daniel: It’s a near future setting – so a lot of it is very familiar. Indeed, I purposefully didn’t want a novel that was too distant from everyday reality. But this is also a world where automation isn’t just affecting traditional blue collar jobs – AI and algorithms are wiping out layers of previously safe middle class / white collar jobs, such as lawyers, bankers, accountants. As you can imagine, there is a lot of unrest – including the formation of a violent protest group called The Workers’ League.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Synapse Sequence?
Daniel: Favourite, or terrifying? The thing with writing a book is it takes time, and technology is moving fast. I agreed the outline for this book just after New Pompeii came out (mid-2016) and delivered the first draft in mid-2017. In the last few months before its publication though I’ve read a number of journal articles describing stuff that’s in the book. Perhaps my brain is just attuned to it at the moment – but I even read something about scientists extracting an image from someone’s brain and I thought: yep, Synapse Sequencer.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Daniel: Perhaps they’ll be thinking of their own job, and whether or not in can be done better by a machine?
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The Synapse Sequence? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Daniel: First and foremost, I wanted to write an exciting story. I think theme develops as you write, and re-write, and re-write. If you try and work with it from the beginning it becomes quite a blunt, heavy object for readers. For instance, some of the stuff about the Workers’ League came out of the world building, but I didn’t set out to write a commentary on our future employment prospects.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Synapse Sequence that you can share with us?
Daniel: As I’m writing, I always try to find a quote that gets to the essence of what I think the book has formed around. I tend to then revisit it as a sort of focal point once I’ve found it, to help me with editing into the book’s final form. So the quote I’m going to give you is not mine but one from Karl Marx that appears at the very start of the book: “The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people”
DJ: Now that The Synapse Sequence is released, what is next for you?
Daniel: I’m researching a new idea, but I’m mainly taking a break after a very busy 2017.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daniel-Godfrey/e/B00MCES4I2/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Daniel: Thank you for inviting me!
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*** The Synapse Sequence is published by Titan Books and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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In the near future, everyday life is dictated by algorithms, from who gets a bank loan or a job, to what supermarkets sell and which news stories you read. Even policing is run by AIs, who track patterns and predict where crimes are likely to occur.
Anna Glover joins a start-up company that hopes to revolutionise solving crimes by combining the memories of witnesses into a virtual reality simulator that can be explored by an investigator. Her first case is that of a fostered teenage boy put in a coma by a brutal assault, and she begins to explore his memories, the only witness to the crime. But when the boy’s sister disappears and Anna’s own actions are called into question, it becomes clear that there are other motives in play, and there are those who do not want her to succeed…
About the Author:
My first novel, New Pompeii, was included in both the Financial Times’ and Morning Star’s ‘Books of 2016’ lists. The sequel, Empire of Time, was published in June 2017. I have also self-published a children’s e-book (Johnny Max and the Panther’s Skull) and had several short stories published.
Shortlisted for Best Newcomer at the British Fantasy Awards, 2017 (for New Pompeii).
I can be found on Twitter @campaniadreamin and my website is http://www.daniel-godfrey.com