The Prometheus interview, part 3, with Wil McCarthy: On his first novel Antediluvian and his cool sci-fi portrait pics

Here is the third and final part of the Prometheus interview with Wil McCarthy, the 2022 Prometheus Best Novel winner for Rich Man’s Sky.

Will McCarthy (Photo courtesy of Baen Books)

Q: Talk about the impetus for your first novel Antediluvian, once you returned from your recent writing hiatus. I recently read and enjoyed it as an ingenious twist on the standard time-travel novel, offering a genetic-memory approach to experiencing what really might have happened millennia ago to our “cave man” ancestors. Your novel plausibly reimagines key events – like the massive flooding 12,000 to 14,000 years ago that’s the reality behind the story of Noah’s Ark – that gave rise through generations of oral history to our inherited (and likely highly distorted) mythologies about ancient history.

Here’s how your novel is described on Amazon:
“What if all our legends are true?… All the Stone Age has left behind are rocks and bones; all other materials have rotted away, leaving no trace. But what if “cave men” never existed, and the Stone Age was a time of great sophistication still preserved in our oldest stories?”

“In a brilliant and dangerous brain hacking experiment, Harv Leonel and Tara Mukherjee are about to discover entire lifetimes of human memory coded in our genes, and reveal ancient legends – from knights and trolls, to flood myths, to the birth of humanity itself – that are as real as they are deadly.

“Before disaster erased the coastlines and river valleys of the Antediluvian age — before the Flood — men and women struggled and yearned and innovated in a world of savage contrasts into which Harv and Tara are thrust, unprepared. Will their science be enough to save them?”

So how do you feel about Antediluvian as your first “return” novel?

A: I adore and am super proud of Antediluvian, but it ended up being a sort of placeholder book.  These happen sometimes in a writer’s career, where you pour your heart and soul into something that doesn’t really end up going anywhere.  But I think it helped set the stage.

It got enough attention that people were aware I was writing again, and… well, if you imagine the first book being thrown off a high bridge, it hits the water like it’s slamming into concrete.  But that breaks up the surface of the water, churns up a bunch of bubbles, so the next book gets a softer landing.  I certainly didn’t write Antediluvian with that in mind, but I am glad Rich Man’s Sky was that second book.

Q: Finally, here’s a trivial but fun question: The LFS received from Baen Books some really cool pictures of you (pictured above) – including one surrounded by a mountain of books and another looking like you’re at the controls of a futuristic sci-fi spaceship. Just out of curiosity, where were these photos taken? (Because if the latter was at some Area 51 spaceport or even at an amusement park, then I’d love to take my turn someday in that nifty cockpit.)

Wil McCarthy in the cockpit of some starship (Photo courtesy of Baen Books)

A: I’d prefer to be cagey about where and how these photos were taken.  I will say, sometimes good author pics are spontaneous and opportunistic, and other times I’ve gone to great lengths to stand in front of the right thing at the right time.

I once got a picture taken of me at the border between Springfield and Shelbyville.  Cool, right?  Except there’s no such border, anywhere in the U.S.

I had to get a picture in front of the Shelbyville sign in Kentucky, and then get a second picture in front of a Springfield sign in a different state, under the same weather and lighting conditions, in the same clothes.  This required accomplices, planning, time, and luck, and isn’t the kind of thing I can do very often.

Wil McCarthy surrounded by books (Photo: Baen Books)

But another publicity pic I used for years was snapped by my wife while I was just sitting in front of my computer, so there was literally no effort involved for anyone.

Check out the first part of the Prometheus interview with Will McCarthy.

Read the second part of the Prometheus interview with McCarthy.

Read the Prometheus Blog appreciation of McCarthy’s Rich Man’s Sky, the 2022 Prometheus winner for Best Novel.

Watch videos of the 2022 Prometheus ceremony with Wil McCarthy, and past Prometheus Awards ceremonies, Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussions with noted sf authors and leading libertarian writers, and other LFS programs on the Prometheus Blog’s Video page.

* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – for the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website, which now includes convenient links to the full set of published appreciation-reviews of past winners.

* Read “The Libertarian History of Science Fiction,” an essay in the international magazine Quillette that favorably highlights the Prometheus Awards, the Libertarian Futurist Society and the significant element of libertarian sf/fantasy in the evolution of the modern genre.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards, join the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.

Libertarian futurists believe that culture matters! We understand that the arts and literature can be vital, and in some ways even more powerful than politics in the long run, by sparking innovation, better ideas, positive social change, and mutual respect for each other’s rights and differences.

Published by

Michael Grossberg

Michael Grossberg, who founded the LFS in 1982 to help sustain the Prometheus Awards, has been an arts critic, speaker and award-winning journalist for five decades. Michael has won Ohio SPJ awards for Best Critic in Ohio and Best Arts Reporting (seven times). He's written for Reason, Libertarian Review and Backstage weekly; helped lead the American Theatre Critics Association for two decades; and has contributed to six books, including critical essays for the annual Best Plays Theatre Yearbook and an afterword for J. Neil Schulman's novel The Rainbow Cadenza. Among books he recommends from a libertarian-futurist perspective: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist & How Innovation Works, David Boaz's The Libertarian Mind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

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