Sunday 5 May 2024

ZeitHeist Launch!

I officially launched my latest book in Hobart this weekend.

It was a part of the Indie Authors Book Fair, so we had dozens of self-published authors like myself selling our wares. Here we are:

As it was an official launch, I got to make a speech and attempted to explain the origins of ZeitHeist:

"Hello everyone,

Thank you for coming. Thank you to Georgie and Mark for organising this day. It’s great to be here amongst my fellow writers.

I’m Joel Rheinberger. I’m usually a broadcaster on ABC Radio. But today I’m here to launch this - my new science fiction novel ZeitHeist.

I fell in love with sci fi as a kid, because the future was just so cool.

People flying amazing space ships, exploring weird new worlds, meeting freaky aliens, upgrading their bodies with awesome cyborg parts, and most of all - Pew! Pew! - They had cool sci fi weapons.

And cool futuristic stuff was enough, for a kid.

But as I got older, and especially as I started writing, I could see that great sci-fi is not about cool stuff from the future, it’s about real stuff from the now.

It’s about the seeds of the future being planted now and the things that might grow from them.

I don’t know if this book is great. That is a decision for you.

But I do know I’m saying something about the now. That we’re screwing up the planet and I’m frightened and furiousd about the future my son will live in.

I remember the exact moment this story germinated in my head.

I was talking to Rob King, who runs the Antarctic Division’s krill aquarium.

Krill look like tiny prawns. They live in all the world’s oceans but Rob’s aquarium is for the Antarctic ones, which are happiest when the water’s between zero degrees and one degree.

He told me he’s testing how they’ll handle climate change.

As we get more CO2 in the air, it dissolves into the water too, which makes the water more acidic. So how do krill cope with that?

The adults are okay, but the eggs are a different story. As the acidity rises, the eggs fail.

If we do nothing, by the end of this century, only half will hatch. By 2300, maybe 2% will make it.

You might think that’s just a sad little story about a single species. But krill are the bottom of the food chain, the basis of virtually all marine life. If they go, so do all the fish, the whales, and the octopi..

And the people who rely on marine protein go too. The UN says that’s currently three billion of us. Scary, isn’t it?

So ZeitHeist takes place after that environmental apocalypse. The fish are gone. We’ve killed off the oceanic algae and the forests too, so oxygen levels have plummeted. You need O2 in a can to go outside, so humans and rats are the only vertebrates left in the wild.

But the people who wrecked the planet - the banks and corporations - have built themselves an island paradise amongst the ruins. And a small team of Australian thieves are hired to crack the place open.

It’s still a fun read - there’s lots of cool sci-fi stuff in it. Hackers and gene splicing and murderous drones and futuristic weapons - how do they go? Pew! Pew!

It’s too early to drink, so I’ll ask you to raise your pretend ray gun and shoot my new book.

Pew! Pew!"

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