Today I am interviewing Tom Toner, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Tropic of Eternity, final book in The Amaranthine Spectrum trilogy.
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DJ: Hi Tom Toner! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Tom Toner: Hello! Thanks for having me. I’m a thirty-one year old science fiction author from Somerset, England. My debut novel, The Promise of the Child, was released in 2015.
DJ: What is The Tropic of Eternity and then The Amaranthine Spectrum trilogy about?
Tom: The Amaranthine Spectrum is a space opera series set in over 12,500 years, in the 147th century, when humanity has diverged into dozens of separate species and spread throughout the galaxy. The Tropic of Eternity is the third book in the series, wrapping up as much of the story as possible.
DJ: What were some of your influences for the The Amaranthine Spectrum trilogy?
Tom: SF/genre influences: Iain Banks, Brian Aldiss, Arthur C Clarke, Terry Pratchett. I’m a big fan of Colm Toibin and Hilary Mantel, too.
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?
Tom: The main protagonist is a three meter-tall, colour-changing giant named Lycaste. Though he suffers from a crippling shyness he’s forced to leave his home, gradually coming out of his shell throughout the course of the series. In the second novel he makes friends with the supremely confident spirit of a murdered artificial intelligence named Perception, who I came up with after hearing the John Grant song ‘Greatest Motherfucker’.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Amaranthine Spectrum trilogy like?
Tom: To begin with the series takes place on earth – now known as the Old World and changed beyond recognition. Soon we move out to the closest twenty-three stars of the Amaranthine Firmament (realm of the last immortal humans) and the surrounding ring of grindingly poor worlds known as the Prism Investiture – home of the hominid Prism, the dwarfish descendents of humanity. The Firmament isn’t really a pleasant place to be – the Amaranthine, some of which are up to 12,000 years old, rule through manipulating their Prism underlings as slaves, and jealousy and terror drives the galaxy.
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first two books of The Amaranthine Spectrum trilogy? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
Tom: I’ve had some really nice feedback over the last few years – here are some blurbs:
“To call The Promise of the Child one of the most accomplished debuts of 2015 so far is to understate its weight—instead, let me moot that it is among the most significant works of science fiction released in recent years.”
“This is the purest example of space opera we’ve seen in some time. . . .The book is challenging, ambitious, and rewarding, and it’s impossible not to admire Toner’s wild imagination and carefully constructed world. This thing is bonkers, no question. It’s also one helluva debut.”
—Barnes & Noble, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
“Marvelous. . .a space opera of surpassing gracefulness, depth, complexity, and well, all-round weirdness.”
—Paul Di Filippo, Locus
“The Promise of the Child is a rip-roaring, full-blown Space Opera, with Epic-ness writ large across its pages… an impressive debut and one of my favourite books of the year… Prepare to get your mind blown.”
– Mark Yon, SFFWorld
I’ve heard a lot from readers eager for the answers to some of the books’ bigger mysteries, and these are certainly dealt with in The Tropic of Eternity.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Tropic of Eternity?
Tom: I loved being able to finally introduce characters, creatures and locations only mentioned in the previous books, and to generally explore a bit more of the galaxy. Wrapping up Lycaste’s tale was an emotional process, too.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Tom: I have no idea – there’s a pretty disgusting scene early on involving a huge, wolf-like sea mammal and a bucket. There’s also a particularly unpleasant character named Billyup who might put some readers off their dinner.
DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing The Amaranthine Spectrum trilogy? 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?
Tom: The books’ descriptions and visuals are all colour coordinated with limited palettes, and a strong symbolism runs through them all. I won’t go into detail, but I worked hard to unify the novels into something (hopefully) satisfying while trying not to be too pretentious about it. In terms of goals, I suppose I just wanted to explore a world so separated by time that it would be unnervingly, eerily alien to us, horrifying and captivating in equal measure.
DJ: I’m always curious when authors finish a series, how close to the original course they stayed when it is finally completed or if it ended up evolving and changing. Did the plot stay the same as you had first imagined it? How about the ending? The evolution of your characters?
Tom: When I signed the deal for the Amaranthine Spectrum I’d only completed book 1 (The Promise of the Child), at which point I sat and sketched out a draft of the remaining two books for the publisher. The novels themselves, when they came along, warped into quite different creatures, but the broad strokes were still there. The endings I always left to the flow of the story – it’s much more fun to surprise yourself – though I did bend the will of the plot once to kill off someone particularly nasty before he did any more damage.
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 Tropic of Eternity that you can share with us?
Tom: “Ships in the Void travelled like someone falling. Most Prism craft attained a terminal velocity of forty or fifty billion miles an hour after a week or so, thrusting radiation and matter into a bulging teardrop around them and crossing the Investiture in what was known as a Silver Month.
Some ships, of course – many millions of hotchpotch things built from wood and plastic and plated with the thinnest, cheapest tin – flew immensely slower, juddering and dancing along like feathers caught in a gale, their interiors often without gravity and possessed of such limited stocks of air that they stopped every few days for resupply. The feral occupants of these ramshackle craft spent their lives hopping around the great celestial island chains of the Firmament and the Investiture, paddling from moon to moon just to catch their breath, asphyxiating, starving, driven half-mad from subsistence and whittled to weaklings by the absence of gravity. Some ships even fuelled the fires of their engines with the very materials they were built from, the crew taking their vessel apart piece by piece and shoving it into the furnaces, until all that was left on arrival was a small, tumbling chamber stuffed with drooling, emaciated creatures ready to set about devouring whatever unfortunate place they happened upon.”
Hope that’s not too long?
DJ: Now that The Tropic of Eternity is released, what is next for you?
Tom: I’m actually working on four different projects at once (and probably half-arsing all of them), but I’m pretty excited about them. Will keep you posted!
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Tropic of Eternity and The Amaranthine Spectrum trilogy that we haven’t talked about yet?
Tom: The first book in the series is still 99p on kindle! Maybe not much use to US readers, oops.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Tom: Thanks for having me!
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*** The Tropic of Eternity is published by Night Shade and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo
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The sequel to the critically acclaimed and ambitious literary space opera debut The Promise of the Child.
It is the 147th century.
The mighty era of Homo Sapiens is at an end.
In the Westerly Provinces of the Old World, the hunt is on for the young queen Arabis, and the vile creature that holds her captive.
In the brutal hominid Investiture, revolution has come. The warlord Cunctus, having seized the Vulgar worlds, invites every Prism to pick a side.
In the Firmament, once the kingdom of the Immortal Amaranthine, all ships converge on the foundry of Gliese. The grandest battle in the history of mammalian kind has begun.
Perception, ancient machine spirit, must take back its mortal remains in a contest for the Firmament itself.
Ghaldezuel, now the Grand Marshal of Cunctus’ new empire, must travel to the deepest lagoon in the Investiture, a place where monsters dwell.
Captain Maril, lost amongst the Hedron Stars, finds himself caught between colossal powers the likes of which he’d never dreamt.
But for Aaron the Long-Life, he who has waited so very, very long for his revenge, things are only getting started . . .
About the Author:
Tom Toner was born in Somerset, England, in 1986. After graduating with a degree in Fine Art from Loughborough University he moved to Australia, teaching life drawing and working on his debut novel The Promise of the Child, the first book in the six-part Amaranthine Spectrum, a space opera series set in the 147th century. The third book in the Spectrum, The Tropic of Eternity, will be released in July 2018 with Gollancz (UK) and Nightshade (US).