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Influential Non-Fiction Books

Every fiction book I write usually has something in it that I’ve learned about life, usually from reading non-fiction books. I wouldn’t exactly call it the big idea behind the book, but perhaps a series of little ideas that have been woven into the narrative.

For Starforgers, due out in October, I have read a few non-fiction books related to my story. Starting with West of Everything by Jane Thompson, a book about the American Western, both in film and literature. The first part of my novel starts on Ocherva, a planet very much modeled after Westerns. So discovering what makes a Western a Western was a valid concern of mine.

A major subplot in Starforgers is about androids obtaining their own civil rights. Android characters shape the outcome of human society in many ways in my novel. Some of the ways they influence humans are obvious, and some are more subtle. I must have watched a TED Talk by Bruce Bueno De Mesquita a few years ago, because I had forgotten about his use of Game Theory in predicting human behavior. When Tobias Buckell pointed me to his talk again this week on Twitter, I realized that I had channeled Mr. De Mesquita in the Starforgers manuscript. One of my android characters practically paraphrases the man’s thesis.

The idea that human behavior could be predicted with mathematics is not really new, but De Mesquita’s methods are new and do indeed make him a real life version of Asimov’s Hari Seldon from the Foundation Series; as Tobias pointed out. I’m now reading The Predictioneer’s Game by  Bruce Bueno De Mesquita for inspiration for my next novel, Starveyors.  Again, I’m astounded by some of my ideas mirrored his insights into predicting human society’s behaviors.

The third non-fiction book that has influenced my series and especially Starforgers and Starveyors is the mammoth tome – Diplomacy, by Henry Kissinger.  I have dipped many times into this history book by the man responsible for more modern history than any other. I do not claim to have read it cover to cover but I have skipped around enough to really appreciate the book. I wish it were available for Kindle.


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