Mark Roman, author of The Ultimate Inferior Beings, talks about his book and its quirks. Visit his website or Like his Facebook page.
What are the origins of The Ultimate Inferior Beings (TUIB)? That is, what kinds of ideas or inspirations kickstarted its creation?
The initial idea was to write a send-up of some of the really naff ideas one comes across in sci-fi films, books, and TV series. Silly character names containing more punctuation marks than letters, ridiculous technobabble, English-speaking aliens, heroes who know what they’re doing, and so on. In the early drafts, all the humans had the same silly name—jXqQ?:&V—while the aliens had names like Chris, Jeremy and Randolph. In fact, at the time, the book itself was called “jXqQ?:&V”. The main character, jXqQ?:&V, was made captain of The Night Ripple in a simple case of mistaken identity—ha, ha.
The funny thing was, no one liked the idea. I can kind of see why. Anyway, I did a U-turn and gave the humans sensible names like jixX, fluX, twaX and so on.
Are there any themes or motifs in TUIB that you would like readers to know about?
The main theme of TUIB is that, although humans have achieved so many incredible things —science, art, literature, football—deep inside we’re all a little bit bonkers. In fact, the book goes further and suggests that all extraterrestrials are also, very probably, a little bit bonkers. I’ve no evidence for this, of course, but even here on Earth we are not the only potty species (see lolcats). Proof indeed.
Are any of your characters based on or inspired by people you know? Did
any of your own quirks end up in their personalities?
Being a scientist by profession, I encounter mad scientists just like fluX on a daily basis. I also know quite a few half-crazed obsessives like twaX. Others are sinister, like the saboteur, anaX, and a few are a little deranged, like the mad alien Jeremy, so I’d better not name any names. My own quirks found their way into Henry, although you’ll need to read the book to find out what he’s like. And I have a terrible sense of humour, so I’m a lot like LEP, the ship’s computer. I actually find many of his feeble jokes quite funny.
What are the ideal circumstances under which you would be writing?
The ideal circumstances are when I am really, really, really bored. Writing presents a marginally preferable way of killing time. But I once I get started, I actually enjoy it.
Are you currently working on any new books? Will the Mamm aliens or the
crew of The Night Ripple be returning someday?
I’ve made a few false starts. I don’t know if any of the same characters will survive into the next book. I didn’t kill too many off in the first, so maybe.