Today, I’m excited to be starting what I hope will be a tradition for at least the next few months–that is, I’m going to be interviewing one or two of Plasma Frequency‘s authors from every issue. Questions will generally revolve pretty closely around the stories we publish, but may deviate to allow us to get to know these talented authors better! So for PFM’s 14th Issue, I’ve selected two authors to interview. Today, we’ve got Damien Krsteski on deck with some excellent insights about his story “City of One.”
Just a heads-up–if you haven’t yet read “City of One,” I definitely recommend reading it before proceeding to read this interview as there are some spoilers ahead. It is free to read, just click the link in the story title. This was one of my favorite stories in Issue 14. It’s an extremely smart piece with great descriptive power and heart. I hope you all get a chance to check his story out and that you enjoy this interview. Huge thanks to Damien for taking the time to answer my questions. Now, on to the fun part!
Damien Krsteski (DK): Above all else, the concept of absolute intellectual self-sufficiency, and whether such a thing could be pulled off. I came up with the theme before any of the characters or plot, and the details began to appear as I explored the idea further. For one, I knew I had to set it in a universe where minds could be manipulated like software, where there are no material obstacles to realizing the concept. I also needed a main character through which I could demonstrate the debilitating effects of long-term isolation.
DK: The story is set many years into the future, and it makes sense that other forms of communications will be developed by then. Sharing subjective experiences at instantaneous rates seems a particularly enticing method, as a major improvement from the current, low-bandwidth verbal/hormonal/gestural modes of communication.The effects of such a technology would probably be very positive: eliminating misunderstandings and speeding up communication among people.
DK: Bertrand associates it with a sun setting, an era ending, so perhaps it’s soothing to him because he’s looking forward to the morning after. To me orange is just another color.
DK: Bertrand’s character was my principal way to communicate the story’s thesis—the degeneration of one’s mind if one’s left unexposed to novelty, to fresh ideas—so I’d worked out his personality, quirks, and state-of-mind at the early stages of the story’s development.It does say something very interesting about him, but also about the premise, which states that without external stimuli, everything would become dull after a while.As to why he is the way he is, well, his very nature is getting to him in the form of the memetic plague, he finds little meaning in things, he has shifted from a life of pleasure to an ascetic existence, he’s alone, asocial, listless.Perhaps at some point in his past he’d reveled in the deliciousness of those powers, back when he hadn’t been crippled by staleness.
DK: In a way, each character in the story shares something in common with me, much like they do with the titular One who has created them in the first place.
DK: Absolutely. “City of One” emerged from my thinking about how long a person can remain isolated within their own neural confines, without suffering from intellectual decay in one way or another. The story serves as an exploration of metaphysical solipsism, among other things.
DK: You’re right, Mathilde is still a part of Bertrand even after her death, and always will be, despite the “Injection.” But whether her presence is a sign of a contented mind, or the mark of a guilty conscience—because she may have been right after all, perhaps the citizens merely traded their freedom for happiness with the Bureaucrats—I guess it’s up to the reader to decide.
AAH: What upcoming stories or projects are you excited about at the moment? Where can our readers find more of your work?