This is the third of a three-part interview with author Allan Yoskowitz, co-author of the new book Codename: Winterborn, a science fiction novel that has some surprisingly religious twists to it. (Click here for part one and part two).
Q: So, thus far, you'd say that Codename: Winterborn was more “science fiction with religious elements,” than a religious novel. But don't science fiction and religion normally not mix? Unless it's something like Infinite Space, Infinite God?
AY: Who says? Babylon 5, the biggest science fiction show of the '90s, was possibly the most religious science fiction on tv ever – and it was written by a self-proclaimed atheist! Religion has been part of culture since the dawn of recorded history, where is it written that it's going to be gone in the next five centuries, to heck with the next five decades? Aside from p%^&!@#s like Richard Dawkins? To exclude religion from world building is lazy and dishonest. Everyone believes in a higher power to explain everything. Listen to Steven Hawking, and he obviously worships science; his notion of the start of the universe sounds more like it was ripped from a Star Trek script – he lost me around “self-sustaining temporal loops.”
Q: Why a Catholic character?
AY: For the most part, so we could have a character with a ready-made philosophy for tyrannicide. I'm Jewish, but most of the current philosophy revolves around Israeli's right to exist, and falls under arguments for self-defense. This was about fighting corruption within your own ranks, where they might be so high up that you're not certain that something can be done about it. Natural law philosophy has that, and we don't really know a lot of people using that outside of the Catholic church – they never throw any good ideas away.
Another advantage is when we get to situations that make Kevin Anderson – our protagonist – squirm, since he's such an altar boy. We have some interesting … “adult content” that mess with his head.
Q: Would you like to elaborate on that last part?
A: Well, there is some adult content in Codename: Winterborn, sort of. That's done by my co-author. He handles it very gently. So gently, he actually forgets that there is adult content in there. Seriously, when I asked him "Where did you learn to write like this?" he said “Write like what?”
In this case, adult content can be broken up into sex and violence. We feel it's "too much" as soon as it stops serving the story. With sex, there's almost no detail. Nothing explicit. What adult content is there is only because of the story, and how it impacts the characters. I think it's really, really well-done here, you'll have to read it to believe how carefully the entire situation is handled.
Violence is a litter different. There are moments where the protagonist, Kevin Anderson, goes near the edge of undue violence -- a certain level of violence has to happen in, say, a battlefield. But what happens when Anderson starts taking out his rage on someone? It happens, and immediately afterwards, we're the aftereffect on Anderson himself. Welcome to the Catholic guilt aspect
Have I talked it to death yet?
Q: Last chance: anything you'd like the readers to take away about the book?
AY: Well, I hope that they come away with a sense that they've had a fun time, and that maybe they've learned a few things here and there about certain real-world policies that have some nasty side effects. If you think that drone strikes on American citizens on American soil is bad, you should read Codename: Winterborn, if only to see other stuff that politicians can get away with.