Mikhail Gladkikh - Ancient gods, Heroes, and Aliens
Mikhail Gladkikh is a technologist and a science fiction author. His professional career provides him with a unique perspective on the technologies of the future. He is working at the forefront of the 4th Industrial Revolution, advancing 3D Printing, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Supply Chain, and Energy Transition. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, The Age of Heroes.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Age of Heroes is about.
"The Age of Heroes" is about the events that lead to the destruction of the brilliant Mediterranean Bronze Age civilization c. 1200 BCE. This was a fascinating period, and the causes of the Catastrophe are unknown as of yet. I took the liberty to fill in the blanks with a science fiction story, creating a "what might have been" scenario.
This is on the surface. In reality, this is a story about humanity, about what it means to be human, about the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of our race. What if an alien civilization studies us and is influenced by us, even at that primitive stage? What can we say about our future by learning about our past? What lies ahead for humanity? These millennia-old questions occupied my mind when I was writing this book.
What inspired you to write about the aliens and the great human empires of the Bronze Age?
In any human civilization, the gods play a decisive role. The concept of "aliens as gods" is not new, but I tried to envision a different scenario where the conflict on Earth is witnessed by the aliens and leads to conflict among the members of their expedition. There is very little information about what exactly happened around 1200 BCE to cause such a thorough and rapid decline associated with the large-scale destruction of cities and wealth. All existing theories are incomplete and unsatisfactory, which creates a lot of space for fictional and fantastic ideas. I am sure we will find out more evidence and establish what exactly happened and what the causes were. In the meantime, this is a great and legendary period for speculation and epic stories.
How does your work with the latest technologies influence your writing?
I am trying to understand the current trends in technology, business, and society and extend these into the future. The questions of how humanity will look like, interact, and evolve centuries from now occupy my mind, and this is what is reflected in my writing. In "The Age of Heroes," the alien race of Soarers represents one of the potential ways humanity could evolve in the future. I wanted to show the conflict between these evolved human species and who we are at our core.
Have you always known you wanted to be an author? Please tell us more about your journey.
I wanted to write science fiction since I was a kid. I was a fan of the classical science fiction of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein. I always thought, however, that writing a book is a monumental task and that I need to have a message that would change the world to write a book. And then I just started writing. I came up with an idea for my first book during the international flight and then carved out 3-5 hours every week to create a book. It took me about a year, and I enjoyed the process so much that I decided I want to do it again.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I am a technologist working in the area of Advanced Manufacturing and 3D Printing. I also run a Podcast, "Vision 2222," with two of my co-hosts, where we interview leaders in technology and business to try to imagine the future world circa the year 2222 together. This is a lot of fun.
How much research did this book require from you to make the historical details feel accurate?
I've read a lot about this period, and this was the motivation to write this book. However, the amount of detail needed to write a story that is historically accurate is extraordinary. I had to re-read multiple textbooks, research papers, and even a Master's Thesis. But it was all worth it as I've learned a lot to understand the people of that era a lot better. I feel I am much closer to them now.
What did you have the most fun with when writing this story?
Definitely writing about mushrooms! No more details to avoid spoilers.
Readers say that your descriptions of the areas are really detailed and colorful. How did you pull this off?
Meticulous research. I watched a lot of videos about the sites I am describing, the archeological records, and whatever is left from that era. Modern landscape and nature provide another tool to depict the setting. I tried to imagine myself at that time and in those places - what would I see? How would it feel? To transport your reader into a different place, you need to be there yourself.
Did you plot the entire story out before you started writing, or did some of it just "happen" along the way?
I did create an outline that was shaped by the recorded historical events. So, the overall flow of the story was in place before I started writing the book. But then I also like to see where the development of the characters and their relationships would take them, so there were lots of changes along the way. I knew how the grand epic would end, but I didn't know exactly the ending place of each character.
When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
Get inspired. I need to get to the flow state where lots of ideas run through my mind; I am so excited about the setting and the topic I need to start writing. Inspiration is definitely the key. I don't think I will ever be able to write as a chore; this is a calling.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
Finding time to write is always a challenge with raising a family and having a daily job (which is also very exciting). On the weekends, I like to wake up early and have a couple of hours to write without interruptions. In general, it is about discipline finding a few hours a week here and there. You need to be focused and measure the progress.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a sequel to my first book; the current title is "The Illusion of Time." It takes place at the beginning of the 22nd Century, and the genre might be loosely defined as Dystopian Cyberpunk. Just like in my previous novels, there are lots of characters and multiple subplots that converge in the end. Below the surface, the book is about consciousness and the place of humans in the grand cosmic design. It is an exploration of both inner and outer worlds and an attempt to answer the question of how to define life.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My author site is https://www.mikhailgladkikh.com/, and my Amazon author's page is https://www.amazon.com/stores/Mikhail-Gladkikh/author/B0B1XJQBXV
In addition, my Podcast "Vision 2222" is available on3 all the major platforms, including Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Google, and YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@VISION2222podcast
People can also connect with me on my LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikhailgladkikh/
The great human empires of the Bronze Age are locked in everlasting confrontation. Meanwhile, the commander of an alien expedition that has arrived to study Earth faces a difficult decision about whether or not to interfere in these terrestrial matters. All beings must proceed with extreme caution: alliances are fragile, the great collapse has begun, and the new age is nigh.