Anthony Vicino writes the sort of whizz, bang, boom Science Fiction and Fantasy that features characters getting themselves into (and then usually out of) death-defying scenarios with an over-abundance of snark and questionable decision making. In addition to writing fiction, Anthony reviews books, interviews some of the hottest SFF authors around, and gives general writing advice over at onelazyrobot.com.
Talking with Anthony Vicino
Sci-Fi & Scary: Mind Breach is the second book in your Firstborn Saga. Please tell our readers a little about the series! Who is the optimal audience? How many books are planned for the series? Could Mind Breach be read as a standalone or must you read the first book?
Anthony Vicino: The Firstborn Saga is a future-flung cyberpunk adventure set in a technologically sophisticated world pulling itself back together after a near-extinction level war. Book one (Time Heist) follows a former-Detective on one last mission to find his wife’s murderer. Along the way, he uncovers a secret that threatens to disrupt the delicate balance upon which their civilization is poised. Book two (Mind Breach) picks up with what happens when that secret gets out.
The Firstborn Saga is for anybody who loves lightning fast action, gritty heroes, and dark wit. If Blade Runner meets Die Hard perks your literary interest, than this might be the series for you.
Readers would definitely be best served by jumping into Time Heist first.
Sci-Fi & Scary: How much of you is in your main characters?
Anthony Vicino: Besides the crippling drug addiction, I wish I was more like the main character (Tom Mandel) from Time Heist. He’s everything I’m not… except snarky. We’re both pretty damn snarky.
Sci-Fi & Scary: You mention on your website that your dad use to pay you 10 cents a word for your short stories, and that you quickly became a friend of adverbs. The tone of the preceding text makes me think you’ve left that compulsion behind, but, just in case, how would you describe your current writing style?
Anthony Vicino: Adverby. Super adverby.
Wait, no… I mean, not adverby. Definitely not adverby.
These days I strive hard for ‘invisible prose’. Meaning the writing should never draw the reader’s attention. Some writers fire off round after round of beautiful, provocative prose (which is great), but that’s not me. I want the reader immersed in the story. I’m light on description and expositional chunks which means my stories tend to read quite quick.
Sci-Fi & Scary: When did you first get the idea for the Firstborn Saga? How long did it take you from there to actually writing it? And how long did it take you to finish the first book?
Anthony Vicino: The Firstborn Saga started as a short story originally called Time Snatch (a horrible name my fans have given me endless crap for over the years), which revolved entirely around a singular scene of badassery. At the time I was actually working on an Epic Fantasy series called Gods and Children, but fans were so psyched on Time Snatch and wanting more of that world that I took a step back and said, “Well, okay… is there more story here to tell?” As it turned out…there was. There was lots and lots more.
Sci-Fi & Scary: I am very, very glad you listened to your fans about the name!
Sci-Fi & Scary: Was Mind Breach harder or easier to write than Time Heist?
Anthony Vicino: Mind Breach was significantly harder to write. I birthed Time Heist before fully fleshing out the long-term story arc of the Firstborn Saga. This was a classic case of getting too far ahead of myself. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did mean the plotting of Mind Breach had to be dead on. Complicating things was the fact that Mind Breach follows from the perspective of four different characters (whereas Time Heist follows only one) which makes for a narratively more complex tale.
Oh, also… Mind Breach came with hefty fan expectations, which can either be crushing or uplifting (sometimes both at the same time).
Sci-Fi & Scary: You also mentioned you loved books like Neuromancer and Snow Crash. What is it about the cyberpunk genre that draws you?
Anthony Vicino: Science Fiction is my favorite genre because it handles the question “What if?” in ways no other genre can. Cyberpunk in particular draws my eye because the ‘what if’ questions it asks are right around the corner, if not here already.
William Gibson once said, “The future is already here—it’s just not evenly distributed.”
And so it is the case with cyberpunk that, in a lot of ways, we are already living in the future we’re writing about. A lot of the concepts introduced by Gibson and friends in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, when cyberpunk was really booming, are already here.
Cyberpunk as a genre has idled in popularity in recent decades and I think a lot of that is born from the fact that it’s a little too relevant for comfort.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What do you think is the worst book-to-film adaptation of a science fiction novel? Why?
Anthony Vicino: That’s a toss-up these days between Dune and Ghost in the Shell. I think both movies failed to live up to their source material for very different reasons. Dune is too big of a story to tell in 2 ½ hours. Ghost in the Shell fell prey to Hollywood cash-grabbing. They went all in on pretty visuals and action, while completely abandoning the original storyline.
On the plus side, sounds like Dennis Villenueve is coming off his success with Blade Runner 2049 to take a run at Dune. That could be staggeringly good. We’ll have to wait and see.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What’s the best science fiction novel you’ve read in the past 3 years?
Anthony Vicino: That might be a toss-up between Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Sci-Fi & Scary: Who, in your opinion, is the best female sci-fi character you’ve ever read or watched? Why?
Anthony Vicino: Ooh, I love this question! There are so many it’s hard to peg just one. Recently I really dug Riko from K.C. Alexander’s Necrotech. She’s a foul-mouthed, bad-ass mercenary with a mechanical arm.
Also quite amazing are Alana from Saga and Zoe Washburne from Firefly. Also, not sure it counts as Sci-Fi, but I want to be half as cool as Eleven from Stranger Things when I grow up.
Sci-Fi & Scary: Great choices! I worship Zoe, and I adore Kaylee, Inara, and River.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What’s your support structure like?
Anthony Vicino: I’m incredibly fortunate to be surrounding by a supportive network of friends and other authors who never cease to amaze me in their capacity to give, give, give. Also, my dad is probably better than your dad.
Sci-Fi & Scary: What project do you have in the works now?
Anthony Vicino: It’s time to go back into the word-mine and start digging up some words for Soul State the (hopefully epic) conclusion to Firstborn Saga. Before that drops next winter, however, I’ll be releasing a couple novellas set in the Firstborn universe called Infinity Lost and Hero Rising (two stories that give us a glimpse into the lives of two of Mind Breach’s most interesting characters).
Sci-Fi & Scary: Final Comments?
Anthony Vicino: Thanks for taking the time to chat! This was a lot of fun. If people want to connect with me online, they can track me down at onelazyrobot.com, @anthonyvicino on Twitter, and @advicino on Facebook.
A Mind Divided Cannot Stand
Tom Mandel is either a villain or a saint, depending on who you ask. He’s already died once in the fight for Unity. He’ll do it again if needed, but he’d rather it didn’t come to that. In the battle to come, however, he might not have much of a choice.
A mysterious imprint, grafted onto the mind of Division Agent Mika Frost, holds the key to stopping Tom Mandel and his terrorist cell, Castle. Survival means uncovering the secret hidden inside her own mind, before it’s too late. If she fails, Unity will fall. She won’t let that happen.
Unity sold a piece of its soul to survive the Dissolution. To survive what comes next, they’ll have to sell the rest.
Buy link: Amazon