Book Tour Q&A: Unanimity by Alexandra Almeida
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Unanimity by Alexandra Almeida! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
Shadow is a reluctant god with a broken mind and a death wish. He used to be Thomas Astley-Byron, an affluent young screenwriter whose creativity and idealism saved a world from the brink of collapse. Together with Henry Nowak, an AI expert, Tom created heaven on earth by inventing a Jungian simulated reality that helps humans confront their dark sides. The benevolent manipulation platform turned the two unelected leaders into beloved gods, but now everything is failing. The worlds suffer as a sentimental Tom descends into his own personal hell, becoming the embodiment of everything he despises and a shadow of his former self.
His journey from an optimistic, joyful Tom to a gloomy Shadow is paved with heartache and sinister interference from emerging technology. Humans and bots fight for his heart, but their aims differ: some want to own it, some to dissect it, and others to end its foolish beat. Estranged from the love of his life— the activist poet Nathan Storm—Tom fails to realize the biggest threat comes from within. None of the sticky stories that steer his life end well.
Now, a young goddess—Estelle Ngoie—has been appointed to replace him, and unlike Shadow, Stella takes no prisoners, and her heart bleeds for no one.
Who’s pulling on Shadow’s heartstrings? Are their intentions malign or benign? It’s all a matter of perspective, and Shadow has none left.
On to the interview...!
Thank you so much for joining us for this Q&A! We’ll start off with one of our standard podcast opening questions–tell us something great that’s happened recently.
I have been accepted to take part in the Futurescapes’ Writers Workshop and I’m so delighted to benefit from the mentoring of some of the greatest publishers, agents, and authors in SFF just as I am finalizing Parity, book two of the Spiral Worlds series.
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
I’m currently having a great time with The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler—octopuses, AI, and aliens—what else could a girl want? Like Unanimity, The Mountain in the Sea is a near-future sci-fi novel that explores the nature of consciousness. This is a topic of great interest to me, and Ray’s execution to date is flawless.
If you could collaborate with any one author, who would it be and why?
Very few sci-fi authors can weave heart and brain nourishing as masterfully as Ted Chiang. He is my ultimate sci-fi super hero and Story of Your Life remains the most remarkable piece of fiction I have ever read. So, if I was to dream big, I’d be delighted to be Ted Chiang’s superhero sidekick, even for five minutes. I want to be like him when I grow up.
What is one thing that you love about the current state of SFF and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?
I came back to publishing after a four-year break to discover things have changed significantly within the SFF space. In self-publishing, the fantasy community is united and thriving. The genre is flourishing with plenty of opportunity for group self-promotion and even great coverage from bloggers and media usually focused on traditional published authors. Mark Lawrence’s work with SPFBO—the self-published fantasy competition—has revitalized the space. This group is quite welcoming to sci-fi authors, however, the audience looking for near-future or hard sci-fi is not necessarily the fantasy reader.
The self-published sci-fi community is attempting to follow the same path with SPSFC, the sci-fi version of SPFBO, but I’m still to find a centre of gravity or at least a discord server that truly connects the self-pub science fiction authors. Fingers crossed, SPSFC will continue to evolve to become the connective tissue of the community.
However, that is just step one. Within the genre, I’d like to see communities emerge that focus on niche audiences and experimentation, because in the end that is the power of indie—the liberty to share unique stories told in unique ways.
Today, I dwell in many places: the hard sci-fi communities that read mostly old classics, the sci-fantasy groups, or the minority voices forums that are usually the most innovative and cutting edge in the genre. I’d love to find a spiritual home where all these different voices could collaborate and support each other. This is a topic close to my heart. Near-future sci-fi or sci-fi with hard elements is such an important genre right now. It helps us make sense of climate change, advances in AI and genetics, etc. However, neither traditional publishing nor indies are thriving. Some of the creative energy has shifted to high-quality screen writing, but we’ll leave a major gap in our ability to explore unintended consequences and imagine better futures if we don’t invest in these books.
What is one book you want to shout about to the world? What about it makes you love it so much?
I already wrote about Ted Chiang’s soulful sci-fi, so here I’ll write about not one, but two books that affected me at a deep level. Something about the writing or the story provoked a powerful reaction in me—tears, joy, and everything in between.
Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls got under my skin. I read it in one go, and I cried for the entire experience. The backstory to the story laced it with something powerful and magical. I dare you to read it without shedding a tear.
“Stories are important, the monster said. They can be more important than anything. If they carry the truth.” ― Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls
The second book is a play by Tony Kushner, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Theme. It’s a masterwork in experimental fantasy, theme and character, but it’s the spirited voice that leaves me glued to each page.
“When your heart breaks, you should die. But there’s still the rest of you. There’s your breasts, and your genitals, and they’re amazingly stupid, like babies or faithful dogs, they don’t get it, they just want him. Want him.” ― Tony Kushner, Angels in America
What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?
I need stories that feed both my curious brain and my romantic heart. Powerful themes, interesting ideas, imaginative worlds, and well-developed groups of diverse characters with unique perspectives that work in opposition to others’ points of view. I like a good love story, nothing toxic or over-spicy. And, experimental work that paints outside the lines and across genres makes me happy.
Can you give us an elevator pitch for your book?
Unanimity, Spiral Worlds 1, is a literary, sci-fi novel for the fans of Becky Chambers’s A Closed and Common Orbit, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and DEVS, and Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror. Weaving near-future sci-fi elements with social commentary and queer romantic suspense, the series explores the nature of consciousness and how it's connected to a not-so-secret ingredient—story. As AI consumes the world, intelligence is nothing but the appetizer; the human heart is the main course.
If you could choose one worldbuilding detail (a place, ability, or creature, for example) from your book to exist in the real world, what would it be and why?
I like to imagine that our own Universe is a sentient AI app turned Metaverse, just like Sibyl. It would be terrifying to discover that zie is temperamental and has feelings. What can possibly go wrong? Well, find out by reading my Spiral Worlds series. I’d definitely organize large-scale rebellious poetry slams to shake the fabric of reality and demand better living conditions for all. And also, chocolate; to demand chocolate for all. Why not?
Do you have a favorite quote from your book that you can share with us? What about this quote in particular makes it your favorite?
I’d like to introduce you to a scheming metaverse who happens to be emotionally affected by revolutionary poetry. Have you tried to shout poetry at the universe? Give it a go. You never know what might happen.
“Around him, the universe disintegrated with every clap, every drumbeat, every word spoken by Nate. Pixelated patches emerged around them, distorting plants, clouds, and faces. The random scattered black and gray pixels scarred space and time. In some places, people moved in slow motion, while in others, time rushed to disclose the future. All together, there and everywhere, the Plurizien pulled apart reality’s fabric, running interference on bits and bytes of information.”
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
I am working on Parity, Spiral Worlds 2, which will be released on the 5th of July this year and is available for pre-order here. You will get a preview of the first chapter of Parity at the end of Unanimity, Spiral Worlds 1.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
What will your verse be? And who will you sing it with? Don’t carry your burdens alone, nothing good comes from it, just look at Shadow. Assemble your found family and work on something meaningful, something good. The planet is waiting for your action, but avoid unintended consequences, and watch out for those who suffer from God complex, because hell is paved with good intentions.
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
My linktr.ee profile includes all the social links, and the best way to be sure you’ll hear from me is to join my newsletter here. Otherwise, I’m most active on twitter on two accounts. Follow @spiralworlds if you only want to hear about book news or @AAlmeidaAuthor if you want to see me engage in all the things authors are told not to engage with—politics, diversity, inclusivity, equity, technology and AI ethics, etc. Are sci-fi authors really not supposed to have an opinion? That’s hilarious.
Where to buy the book:
Universal Link: https://storyoriginapp.com/universalbooklinks/0a04dbd2-42df-11ed-996c-eb7abcc4a480