We recently sat down with Beth Kander to ask her the inspiration behind her latest work, Original Syn, now available through our sci-fi imprint, Owl House Books.
As an author and playwright, people often ask me “Where do you get your ideas?!” Usually, the answer is complicated, and has to do with confluence, several ideas overlapping, that sort of thing. It’s rare that I have a clear, singular starting point for a writing project.
But I can pinpoint the exact moment when the whole Original Syn journey began.
I was on an airplane in the spring of 2011, and a previous passenger had left their tattered copy of Time magazine behind. Totally loopy from all the Dramamine I have to take to keep my terrible motion sickness at bay, I read an article about the impending “Singularity” – AKA the event horizon when man and machine merge.
I was struck by how casually the author’s article, Lev Grossman, approached the whole idea that, as he put it: “[Computers will be] writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties… we’ll merge with them and become super-intelligent cyborgs.”
He estimated this happening in 2045, or sooner. In our lifetimes.
I was terrified at the thought, and started wondering what the world would look like after this happened, especially if the tech was denied to those of us who aren’t mega-rich. Instead of solving humanity’s problems, what if it only exacerbated them—creating the ultimate Haves and Have Nots?
Somehow I thought I could write an epic trilogy exploring the fallout of such a thing. (I blame the Dramamine.) But that’s how Original Syn began— the whole project was inspired by one article about a hypothetical but plausible scientific leap. It’s truly a case of innovation meeting imagination. The article got me thinking about the ramifications of an evolutionary leap. The science is fascinating, but made so much more riveting when it’s applied to complicated characters, with warring factions and forbidden romance, devious overlords and snarky underlings.
That’s what the best science fiction does, and what I hope Original Syn achieves over the course of the trilogy: taking something that might possibly happen, and exploring what that might look like and why we should care, while sucking us in to worlds and lives that make us want to keep turning the page.
Read the First Chapters
Fifty years after the Singularity, the world is divided into two populations locked in a cold war: Synthetic Citizens, or Syns, human-computer hybrids with extraordinary enhancements and potentially infinite lifespans; and Originals, the individuals who did not merge their bodies with the machines.
But the decades-long battle between Original and Syn is almost at an end, because the Originals are on the verge of extinction. One of the only young Originals left in the world, Ere, knows he might someday be the very last of his kind. But when he meets a beautiful, powerful Syn girl called Ever, he questions everything he’s ever been told about his lifelong enemies.
Original Syn is a rich, dangerous world of family secrets, free will, forbidden love, and all of the unexpected peril that arises when aggressive technology meets stubborn humanity.
Early Praise for Original Syn
“A gripping story whose words pop off the page… humor, love, masterful storytelling… Beth Kander paints a complex picture of the human condition. ‘Original Syn’ is a transformational piece of literature.”
–Andrew Slack, Founder, The Harry Potter Alliance
“ORIGINAL SYN is a heart-pounding book that will keep readers on their toes and turning the page.”
–Mia Siegert, author of JERKBAIT
“Original Syn is storytelling at its finest. Kander’s characters are fascinating, complex, and immediately relatable, and the future world they inhabit feels both mythical and tangible. Original Syn is the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve read its final pages; an unforgettable story that pulls you in and takes you along for the ride.”
–Francesca G. Varela, author of Seas of Distant Stars
“Beth Kander’s Original Syn is a book that is both timely and timeless, addressing the human pursuit of immortality and perfection at a time when popular culture and cutting edge tech firms have increasingly become obsessed with such notions as “singularity” through our exponentially advancing technologies. The problem, of course, with Silicon Valley’s vision of the future is that it removes the inner human experience from the equation. Original Syn skillfully and compassionately imagines what the real, felt experience of such a future might be, and it is therefore essential reading. In this real and terrifying vision of the future, it offers a glimpse into the complexities and nuances of such a dream, and in doing so questions many of the assumptions we might make about the future that we really might hope for. This is a book that will capture the reader’s attention and keep it, both because it is accessible and action-filled and also because it asks big questions: What does the future hold? What does it mean to be human?”
–Theodore Richards, award-winning author of Cosmosophia
Watch the Book Trailer
Beth Kander is an award-winning playwright and author. She lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband, daughter, and two geriatric rescue dogs.