Doug Souza is back in the current Asimov’s issue—on sale now—with his tale of derring-do. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about the story and his writing in general.
Asimov’s Editors: How did this story germinate? Was there a spark of inspiration, or did it come to you slowly?
Doug Souza: The first nugget came from wanting to set a story on one of the moons or dwarf planets within our solar system. Since the human body isn’t designed for micro-gravity, that’s always a problem. A friend of mine and I brainstormed some ideas on how to adapt the human body, and nanos came up. I started several versions of the story, and then found that the nanos were the most interesting protagonists since they had the toughest struggle. Then the thought struck me of how much tougher their job would be if their host didn’t care much for his own life.
I hadn’t read a story from the nanos’ POV, so I was stoked to write one. I’m sure I’ll get some emails listing titles of stories with this same idea, but honestly, it was original to me at the time. There are some great stories out there where the AI—whether in a fighter jet or interwebs—ends up making the moral choice in contrast to their human counterpart. As an optimist, this gives me hope that maybe the AI being developed will aid and guide humankind rather than travel back in time to terminate us.
I feel I chiseled my way into writing, rather than breaking in. Not to downplay where I’m at now, I’m super-stoked to have my stories published at the various venues and on podcasts, but it wasn’t an overnight thing.
AE: Do you particularly relate to any of the characters in this story?
DS: The main character is highly intelligent like my brother. Growing up two years younger than a genius is quite a unique experience. There was a shadow, but it wasn’t darkened with “You can’t do this . . .” or “You’ll never be able to . . .” Instead, my brother was always showing me how to do things with the expectation that I’d be able to grasp concepts with his guidance. Thank goodness my parents were good at homing in on each of their kids’ talents and focusing on that. I didn’t have that BS of, “He can, so why can’t you?”