Hello everyone, and welcome to our interview corner. We have with us today, author Selso Xisto, who is on tour with his novel, Particle Horizon. You don't have to take my word for it. Grab a seat and let the interrogation...Interview, begin.
Who are you?
I’m Selso Xisto and I write science fiction! I also ride a fast motorbike and obsess over my cat.
What inspired you to write Particle Horizon?
A long time ago, I read this amazing book called ‘The Eerie Silence: Are we alone in the Universe?’ by Paul Davies. It blew my mind. It got me thinking that there are so many unanswered questions about the origin of the universe, the big bang, etc. That there was a lot of scope to write speculative fiction trying to answer those questions without sounding completely implausible. Before then, I’d always written for myself, silly short stories for fun, but I never believed I had the chops to write real Sci-Fi. Then I realized most writers do a lot of research, but that the really big, fundamental questions are often just things they made up or speculate on like the rest of us! So, I did a lot of research and just got writing. Reading the Night’s Dawn trilogy by Peter F Hamilton was the final straw; his world building and characters were so awesome and compelling that I couldn’t keep the beast inside me for much longer! I wanted to create a story that had the same effect on someone else!
Tell us a bit about the world, Angelhaven.
Angelhaven is a hollowed out asteroid 15 miles long and 4 miles wide. Its world is on the inside surface and held in place by centrifugal rotation. This is not a new idea by any means, and was heavily inspired by Greg Bear’s ‘Eon’ and Arthur C Clarke’s ‘Rendezvous with Rama’. Angelhaven orbits a vast Jupiter-like gas giant called Hades. From the asteroid world trails a 3,000 mile-long tether that drags a scoop through the clouds of Hades collecting natural resources that are siphoned up to the factories in Angelhaven. Along the zero G axis of this world, teenagers fly like birds in a sleeve of cloud around their artificial sun…
What about your main characters?
Particle Horizon is told from many perspectives along the way. The three main characters all come from very different backgrounds and sides of the galactic conflict. Xavier is a battle-hardened Union marine sent to confront the Legion invasion head-on. He has a strange power - the ability to see people’s emotions whenever he closes his eyes. The Union of Free Worlds is a progressive, technophile society; religion was banned long ago. Xavier fights an enormous conflict between the evidence of his ‘magical’ abilities and his training. He also carries a massive chip on his shoulder; his mother was a victim of the LightBringer many years ago.
Una is the daughter of the great scientist in Angelhaven who makes the scientific breakthrough that provoked this war. She has an artificial mind and was created with the sole purpose of helping his research. She fights every day to assert her humanity and cope with what she is and what she’s done.
Aja is survivor and victim. She’s a reluctant conscript in the Legion; forced to fight for a cult she doesn’t believe in. She clings to an old, outlawed Christian faith and wants nothing more than to escape this war.
Everyone loves to know about the villain, so tell us about the antagonist.
The main antagonist is known only as Cain. He too has a mysterious special ability, though he knows exactly where it came from. He is pure, calculating, cold, rage and subterfuge. He is motivated only by revenge and a need for answers only one person can give.
What themes are discussed in the book?
There are a few key themes in the book: faith, humanity and origin. Growing up a Christian and slowly beginning to question my beliefs, as I got older, religion was bound to be a key part of my first book. Don’t get me wrong here; this is not an anti-religious book, I think you’ll see when you read it that there is room for faith and science, and that ultimately a lot of science is based on a faith in certain theories that are later proved wrong anyway. My religious themes are centered on how faith can be corrupted and twisted; Aja herself is a Christian but persecuted by the cult that has taken over her world.
The other major theme is that of humanity. I’m endlessly fascinated by the idea of sentience and where the line is between intelligence and self-awareness. I tried to explore this from the point of view of a super-smart artificial intelligence who happens to be cursed with a human body and all the biological and hormonal issues that affect our behavior. Una doesn’t know if she’s human or not and this gets even more complicated when she’s asked to do something unspeakable to protect her fellow Havenites. I won’t spoil it here though!
The big one is origin; where did the universe come from? What lies beyond the particle horizon? I’m not going to give this one away, but I had fun weaving my own little speculation on this question.
Can you share one random fact about yourself for our readers.
I once made a comedy song with a friend at Disney called ‘Monkey Lap dance’ that got played on prime-time breakfast radio in London!
You are a fascinating author, Selso, and we hope to have you again. For our visitors, don't leave yet, there's more. Selso is giving away an autographed copy of his novel. Enter the giveaway below for chance at the exciting world of Angelhaven