Interview with Charlie Marino

Published 2021-11-29.
Who are your favorite authors?
I started life as most scientists, reading anything from Asimov, Heinlein and Niven I could find. Later ran into Jack Chalker (Well World), Elizabeth Moon and Lois Bujold.

Of late, I have broadened my reading to include what was a pleasant to me - that some of my favorite film noir movies in black & white were actually novels. Dashell Hammond and Hemmingway, even Lindsey for 'Dexter' and Nevil Shute for 'On The Beach'. The written word and a well crafted story still warms me.
What are you working on next?
Now attempting publication of a novel grown out of an early story, Dominant Life Form. This one picks up where DLF left off. Robots native to Earth waking and developing, but develops the mysterious 'oThErs' and what they are doing on our planet. It also develops the theme of a parallel effort at the next dominant life form - genetic supermen - and how they are the robots are in direct competition with mere humans a distant third.

It is entitled 'Alive Be Deemed'.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My grandfather. Sicilian immigrant, barely spoke English, womanizer, gambler and alcoholic. But it is few times you meet a devil without some redeeming qualities.

He gave me a piece of advice which I have never forgotten and occasionally not only gets me out of bed, but makes me act instead of laying about and sliding half awake thru life. Translated, it comes out as "You're dead a long time".

Take a moment. The meaning is easier to discern in native dialect (a Messina hillbilly), but comes out like the 'life is short' bumper sticker in English. He was saying that in the big picture of life, the universe and everything, our existence as mammals in this millenium is to brief as to be nothing less than frightening if you are just laying about on your butt going thru the motions. Kind of explains the religious belief in children and which re-awakens with fervor in most humans as they age and approach the great dark.

Not that I'm looking forward to non-existence - quite the opposite - but I refuse to embrace supernatural crutches for an imagined 'afterlife', whatever that may be. Live for the now. Not just the moment, but today, tomorrow, and all the tomorrows for which I plan & work. It can be a busy and fulfilling life.
Describe your desk
Two of them. One that looks like an old old stylized wooden desk which I make models and do projects upon. The other is actually a nice cherry dining room table in front of which I play video games, watch old movies, and work on the computer. Daily.
When your first novel, DLF came out, you gave an interview to Broohanven. Describe it.
Brookhaven, NY 12/2005

Q. What prompted you to write your first novel at the youthful age of 50?

As a practitioner in the field of robotics, it’s what I know. Since coming out of Columbia as a nuclear engineering student in the 70’s, computers and robotics have been a heavy part of my life.

While I had only written short stories in science fiction until now, it struck me that all the components are now sufficiently advanced for us to actually produce a thinking machine.

Q. Does your book have any connections to a current story or issue in the news?

Not a month goes by that a new development in robotics pertaining to enhanced humanoid capability. At the Katrina disaster, there are robots roaming the rubble in buildings too dangerous to check for survivors. We post a new one monthly on the website www.AthenaRobotics.net
They are getting smarter every single day.

Q. Do you know about any celebrities who are connected to the content of your book?

Afraid not. We should be so lucky that someone with a higher profile than a scientist like me is supportive of how robots can help humans overcome this technological adolescence we’re struggling through.

Q. Are there any upcoming anniversaries, or events that your book relates to?

The Challenger disaster is referred to, and that sad anniversary only recently passed. The methods Freeman Dyson lauded for understanding how it happened – and therefore how to prevent – are discussed as a prime underlying methodology of the team. It’s how we create our own systems.

Q. What emotional hot buttons does your book address?

For Luddites, the apparently unstoppable march of technology. Unfortunately, the increasing neo-Luddite activities in burning houses on LI or destroying computers on the west coast are also part of the current events arena.

Religious issues surrounding the lessening of need for religious crutches as science explains more and more of the world around us.

Overall, some people have an irrational fear of robots or anything other than man influencing or outright controlling man. The story itself contains the usual human disasters of divorce, seduction, betrayal, and the very human to human behavior of the characters.

Q. Are there any controversial points in your book?

If the Earth First Liberationists knew where our labs actually were, their firebombing past at abortion clinics would happily be repeated.

On a more rational note than those tech-terrorists, there is a legitimate scientific debate as to whether consciousness can be represented by non-organic minds. For that matter, there is some debate on whether we – homo sapiens – are ourselves fully conscious, or if we are just another link in the long chain from cavemen to wherever man is evolving.

Clearly, I come down on the side that thinking robots are not only possible, but will happen soon – perhaps within 10 years - using technology a hop skip and a jump from today’s capabilities.

And if we aren’t afraid of the unknown.

Q. What books compete most directly with your book?

I would say others in the hard science genre, which are far fewer than the fantasy. And few of those deal centrally with robotics.

In recent years…“Adventures of the Artificial Woman” – a new comedy/satire by Berge. And the re-release of Isaac Asimov’s “I, Robot” collection of linked short stories after release of the Will Smith movie last summer.

There’s not as much around now like the old Heinlein or Bradbury or Clark hard science novels dealing with real scientific principles as I would personally like to see. Until now! Although in the fantasy area, I'm a fan of Gainman in American Godss rather than Twilight with twinkly emo vampires.

Q. How is your book unique and different than these competing books?

Far from fantasy or comedy or satire, this is hard science. All aspects incorporated in the Athenas are individually available and part of the current body of science fact. It’s just that no one has put all the parts together. Yet.

The other difference between this and most robot books is that in Dominant Life Form, they do not spring full grown on page one, already developed. Dominant Life Form chronicles their growth from mere trade show display automatons to free movement, consciousness, and even reproduction.

Q. What is the target audience for your book?

Hackers and crackers will I hope like the character of Jean K, who provides the means for covert gathering of unpublished technical data, as well as certain, shall we say, creative financing data for the project. She’s a pistol.

But mostly current sci-fi fans. And those who specifically like robots or stories on robots. Plus of course, technophobes who will be looking for more indications of those ‘godless devil machines taking over’. And looking for more targets.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Unbelievably, people have bought hundreds of my short stories and a few of my ealry novel DLF. It is gatifying. Wouldn't have it without the nice folks at Smash. The feedback has been more important than the few sheckles I've made. In fact, I've now set my short stories to 'reader sets price - even free - just to get them out there and get that feedback.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

Sentience Newsletter 2023
Price: Free! Words: 22,600. Language: English. Published: January 12, 2024 . Categories: Nonfiction » Computers & Internet » Intelligence (AI) & semantics, Nonfiction » Computers & Internet » Reference
All 8 issues in PDF format chronicling developments in the emergence of articifial intelligence in 2023.
A Dyslexic Learns to Read by Powerlifting
Price: Free! Words: 4,400. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2022 . Categories: Nonfiction » Education & Study Guides » Experimental methods, Nonfiction » Education & Study Guides » Literacy » Reading skills
How to thicken neural pathways & get your synapses firing. A true story.
Better off Not Knowing
You set the price! Words: 6,250. Language: English. Published: January 27, 2022 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Plays » American / African American
A short environmental play in several acts where little girls befriend a visiting alien
Science Fiction Anthology
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 61,190. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2021 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Science Fiction
(4.00 from 1 review)
A collection of 7 science fiction short stories: From alien space ships, surviving a dystopian future, the next stage in human evolution, an afterlife (of sorts), and exporting life to other worlds, enjoy scientist Charlie Marino's take on science driving our survival, or as the instrument of our destruction.
Dominant Life Form
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 55,190. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2009 . Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
2nd Edition - Updated Version! This version includes new material and significant updates to the hacker effort in creating a new Dominant Life Form.