Saturday, April 29, 2017

Interview with author Matthew Isaac Sobin

The Last Machine in the Solar System

1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
I first had the idea for the story while watching a show on the science channel. The program followed and analyzed the expected natural progression of the solar system, focusing on the life cycle of the sun and the impact on the earth and the other planets. It was fascinating. In my own mind, and perhaps for many people, the expectation is that humanity may be long gone by then. But what if it wasn’t? Or what if something from humanity, an intelligent creation, had been designed so that it survived and witnessed the end? That gave birth to the idea for The Last Machine. From there I was energized and motivated to get the story down, and as a novelette, I had a first draft in a little over one month.

2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
This is the story of Jonathan, an android robot who has been conceived to outlive humanity by multiple billions of years with the goal of documenting the end of mankind and the ultimate destruction of the solar system by the sun. He also has a final mission set out for him by his long dead creator, Nikolai, which he may choose to accept. To some extent, “humanity” and the “sun” are their own characters in this book, and in different ways they represent antagonists to Nikolai, and eventually to Jonathan.  Because this is science fiction in the more classic sense - like it was back in the 1950s - there are some deep-thinking concepts. I delve into the science of the solar system and some astronomical hypotheticals. The story also explores aspects of human psychology and emotion through Nikolai and Jonathan. I’d like to think lovers of classic SciFi will find something to enjoy here.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
One theme that I’d like readers to consider is the nature of human dependency. We’re dependent on food and food is dependent on solar energy. I’m intrigued by the idea of a species progressing to the point that it cuts the cord of dependency from the star to whom it owes its existence. An incredibly difficult task, which would require a great deal of cooperation by the species (maybe humanity). Potentially, it is the ultimate question of independence. But true independence is something that only gets achieved by motivated collectives. One of the final illustrations in the book, by the incredible graphic novelist Jack Katz, crystallizes Jonathan’s fate and the long sequence of events that brought him to his end. If readers reflect on our direction as a species, the book will have been a success.

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
Just to write. Creativity is a gift, maybe even a freak occurrence. Where does it come from? This is something that is explored deeply in The Last Machine and Nikolai comes up with a scientific approach to intellectual creativity. But in our world it’s something that you mostly have or don’t have, and the question is whether or not the creator harnesses their abilities. Sometimes I struggle with this myself; not writing for long periods of time even though I know it’s a mistake, a form of self-sabotage. Writing needs to be second nature, like brushing your teeth everyday. And of course, whether or not anybody reads your work (or buys it) is really immaterial to a writer’s personal progression. Unfortunately, we all seem to thirst for validation; it’s in our nature.  

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
Oh, I’m not really sure. This is my first published work and I’m just getting my feet wet. My publisher, Inkshares, may be part of that change in the industry. I crowdfunded my book during a contest, selling 350 copies in 6 weeks to win the Sword & Laser: The Sequel contest. I was intrigued because I felt that it put becoming a published author more under my control. I was no longer relying someone’s reaction to a query letter. It democratized the process. It was also very stressful for me, but ultimately exhilarating. It’s hard to predict where the future will take an industry. Of course, I take my best shot at predicting the next 3 billion years in The Last Machine in the Solar System!

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
Writing this book was really exciting. I was on a mission right alongside Nikolai and Jonathan. Most of the writing wasn’t too difficult. I really got into a good zone with this novelette. I think the biggest concern for me was the science. I really wanted it to be highly accurate. Everything (OK, most things) in the book should be theoretically possible. I think it came out pretty well. But over billions of years, predicting what will be in our solar system, it’s very hard to say. We may need to create a robot to stick around and confirm whether the book was on target :-)

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
If they love SciFi, particularly SciFi from the middle of the 20th century, then I hope the story will fascinate them and make them feel something they haven’t felt recently. The Last Machine in the Solar System is different from other books: The history of mankind in 80 pages, it’s illustrated, and it’s going where no machine has gone before!

Matthew Isaac Sobin grew up in Huntington, New York, and graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor's degree in history, with studies in astronomy and geology. He currently lives in Hayward, California, with his partner, sculptor Patricia Gonzalez, and works with the Peter Beren Literary Agency. The Last Machine in the Solar System is his first published work. For more info, please see:

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby

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