If having missed the July launching of Sorin Banu’s novel at the Brasov Music and Book Festival, you can now learn more about this debutant but keen author putting us forth an intricate story, a possible whistle blowing novel as to the relation between man and technology, between man and his own creation. A writer driven by complex and universal questions who put together more science fiction related ideas to integrate them into an original narrative where a kind of humanoids, the Tentorians, face off the people of the future. "TENTORIA" (Smart Publishing 2016) it’s a novel opening up a universe readers cannot wait to explore.
LIBRIS.RO: You had graduated an economics college, had worked in software engineering, e-commerce, IT consulting and now live in Brussels. But you chose to make your literary debut with an ambitious science fiction novel in Romanian. How do you explain the path you took from a field of fact orientated pragmatic activity to an area of speculation, of the great questions waiting to be raised?
SORIN BANU: In parallel to my professional career, which I keep carrying on, I have been entranced since an early age by questions like: "How the Universe really came into being?", "What a creature really is?", "What lies beyond the laws of physics we can explain now, confined by the discoveries or the renderings done by the great scientists?", "How important are we truly in the Universe? etc. However, what took me aback was the evolution of these avocations to the desire of penning them down, to write pages full of ideas. Thus, I started off with a philosophical themed manuscript only to realize in time that I like words, enjoy building up ideas by way of them, take them down and get carried away by my own imagination.
LIBRIS.RO: Why did you choose to publish it in Romanian as long as you are living in Brussels? What keeps you still tied to Romania?
SORIN BANU: Not to mince words, I attempted firstly to write it in English. But it didn’t take me long to realise how important was a good command of a language if wishing to put together those nice lexical constructs brightening the mind of the reader and render the dialogues in the story as naturally as possible. Furthermore, for being Romanian and caring for my country wherever I might be, I wanted this book gotten read by my folks, friends, relations, Romanians by and large. For the onset of 2017 I prepare a collaboration aimed at translating and publishing it in English.
As for the ties I kept, I come pretty often in Romania to visit my family and friends. These always turn to be nice mini-vacations, because Romania has many things to relish your eyes, taste buds... and the soul with.
LIBRIS.RO: The novel you put forth has a non-linear construction; the reader travels in time and riddles out through each chapter an Earthlings history into a future possibly not too far ahead. How hard is for a debutant to make up a puzzle style story? It’s something spicing up and challenging the reading but also entailing undoubtedly a difficult construction as to the writer.
SORIN BANU: It’s one of the things I enjoyed most: to have the puzzle built in front of you and then starting taking it apart; to scatter its pieces along the narration, using some of the last pieces in the beginning without betraying the outcome, but trying at the same time to have thus the story flow that to hook the reader. At the onset, it was hard to make up my mind as to what to do, because I haven’t yet played previously with such techniques. I knew what the denouement should be, but I must admit I made several attempts before reaching the final variant. I asked my friends and I found out what wasn’t working, I made the corrections... and so on. As writer, in particular a debutant one, you experience a great satisfaction in having the reader at last finding the blanks in the puzzle as you orderly left them there.
LIBRIS.RO: Your story integrates challenging ideas like: the uprising of the creatures in respect of the creator, the tricky nature of reality, ideas having reminded me flicks like Terminator or Matrix, to name but two better known examples. Whence you got inspired for such challenging narration?
SORIN BANU: I always liked movies, maybe even more than books. That clears up my novel consisting of sounds and images galore, here and there being written as a movie script. Setting off from the undivided attention for answers to questions like those cited afore, one day I woke up with an idea slipping through my mind: the moment the leading character, Cole, realizes what is really going on. Thence, I began building, the other ideas following naturally.
LIBRIS.RO: There is sensed a quite downbeat perspective as to the people’s ability to show a clear sighted approach to technology. Have you devised TENTORIA as a whistle blowing novel, a one of anticipation to the genuine meaning of the word? You believe the way technology shapes our lives will get irreversibly out of our hands?
SORIN BANU: We are facing indeed a great responsibility; a future hurtling towards us, increasingly faster ways the advancement comes into being through. This mankind could lose control of it, if not sounding the alarm in due time.
By my nature, I’m an optimist. Therefore I hope the children of our children could rein tightly in the events. Even so, I entertain no doubts as to our lives getting shaped by technology through ways we have not yet a clear understanding of, which, if seen in the long run with the eyes of our own generation, could possibly get out of hand. But we don’t have to wait hundreds of years, as long as we can sense the danger right now; there are even in the present people saying we already lost control, giving as example the migration of young people from a "social environment of the XX century" to one less palpable, to an "e-social."
LIBRIS.RO: There is something both utopian and dystopian in the two worlds recited in the narrative: Tentoria is the place the technology of the future is employed to the utmost, where the biologic regeneration, mind control, nano-interventions are part and parcel of the daily life, but also conveying to the existence distaste, drabness, boredom and artificiality. On the other hand life on the Island doesn’t look either enviable: existence controlled by a dogmatic–communist kind of regime but warding off instead the technological alienation. Do you believe that in fact both worlds are after all failed human experiences?
SORIN BANU: The two worlds are sheer extremes by themselves, and my, similarly to the upbeat reader, wish to believe mankind will avoid as much as possible both situations. Maybe it will be something in between, but there are heavy odds against it being none of them. I don’t want to talk more about the two worlds from my story, to avoid thus spoiling the reader’s surprise, but by drawing a parallel to the world we live in, I have no doubts about the ethical implications the future holds in store for us, being outright consequential. The meaning of the word "failure", as we know it, will alter in the future. The ethical confines, the idea of security and compromise we entertain already will get reshaped by our minds and keeping on going through it along with the advancement in the following decades... or centuries. After hundreds of years, in hindsight, we’ll pull faces or maybe laughing at all these, at everything now felt as genuine human values. Even in the present time we feel our lives undergoing major changes, many things looking now so different to those but decades ago. Many of the young people cannot even understand how could their parents live without one or another kind of technology.
LIBRIS.RO: The novel opens up a potential universe comprising deep changes within the following 500 years, several worldwide wars, an advanced humanoid race (the Tentorians) etc. You think you will explore it in a future novel? You plan another book?
SORIN BANU: You have a point here. There must be a sequel... a volume or maybe more, why not. That’s my plan.
LIBRIS.RO: How would you briefly recommend the novel to a reader knowing nothing about your book?
SORIN BANU: Are you ready to forget the future? "Tentoria" – a science fiction novel, an entrancing story built around a question concerning all of us: "Where is humankind heading?" And I would invite him to read the text on the back cover.
LIBRIS.RO: Are you a science fiction aficionado? What do you like reading? What do you want to read in the near future?
SORIN BANU: To make a clean breast of it, I’m not a great fiction reader. I read most in the economics, IT, astronomy fields. The very moment I understood my novel falling into the science fiction category, I made up my mind to read more in this area, the best ones in particular, like Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov. I wish I read more from the Romanian writers because their having also enticing stories, despite being quite unable to make themselves known abroad.