Benoit Goudreault-Emond

Biography

I live in Montréal, Québec, Canada, with my lovely wife and equally lovely (and lively) daughter. My day job is as a programmer, something which I do find satisfying. However, I've always been an avid reader, and science-fiction has always had a special place in my heart.

Why I write

I had written unpublished long-form works in the past, and decided in 2019 that it was time for me to try to write something others might want to read. Hopefully I have succeeded, and will continue to do so in future.

“I, Cunningham” is the first such work. I want to keep on writing more novels. For one, Cunningham's story does not end there. But I also want to branch out to other backgrounds.

I hope you will enjoy my work, and that it will prompt you to read other works I've liked. “Traditional” science-fiction has waned a little bit in the last couple of decades, replaced by dystopian works, cyberpunk, and fantasy. There is nothing wrong with those other genres, yet I feel that traditional hard SF is still enjoyable.

Smashwords Interview

What's the story behind your latest book?
It's a bit convoluted.

In 2017, I started translating a classic video game, Phantasy Star IV, from English to French. That was mostly done so my daughter, who read zero English at the time, could enjoy the game. At the time, a project that made the translation relatively easy had just been published, so I did a quick translation (it later grew into a much more sophisticated project, but that's another story). While doing that, I reflected that the game's setting would be perfect for a hard Sci-Fi novel, if the mystical/psychic elements were removed from the game. I wrote a quick vignette with some preliminary ideas, and left it at that.

My daughter kept bugging me about this. Would I complete the story? I had heard of NaNoWriMo, and decided to postpone my story completion to November 2018, not thinking much of it.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), she remembered :) So now I was stuck, I had to do it. So, I did. It was fun, but I wasn't that happy with the end result, even though she did like it (I wrote it in English first, then translated it in French for her enjoyment). The whole thing was structured like a computer RPG, and it showed.

On the other hand, I had a nice background worked out from that. I decided that my NaNoWriMo entry left some room for more adventures in different star systems, and that each would be totally isolated. So I was free to start a totally new book for NaNoWriMo 2019. But I needed some ideas.

The idea came from reading up on deep-learning systems, and how they are called AI by the media and even some researchers. This always annoyed me; those systems are not able to reason in a new situation, and are likely to do something wildly nonsensical in such. But I wondered whether it could be the seed of a story about AI. Thus, "I, Cunningham" was born.

I finished the draft on time during NaNoWriMo 2019, and spent much of my free time between then and July 2020 reviewing/editing/polishing the book. Hopefully it shows!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I don't feel Sci-Fi gets a lot of traction in traditional publishing houses at this point. Fantasy, sure. Also, post-apocalyptic or cyberpunk does get some traction. But traditional, "dryer" science-fiction, not so much. Yet, that is what I wanted to write.

It didn't help that all publishers I checked had submissions closed. The book was written and I wanted it available to readers so they could tell me whether I'm a decent writer.

Basically I'm too impatient not to be an indie. That's probably not an awesome reason, but there you go.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Benoit Goudreault-Emond online

Books

I, Cunningham
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 89,050. Language: Canadian English. Published: July 4, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Gordon Cunningham, an ordinary citizen of 22nd century Earth, died in an unfortunate accident. Except he didn’t die. Not really. Instead, he wakes up stuck inside a robot. In the 29th century. Thirteen light-years from home. In a space station orbiting a doomed colony. If nothing is done, all colonists will die within 100 years. But who will help Cunningham?

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Smashwords book reviews by Benoit Goudreault-Emond

  • Edge of Infinity on Aug. 03, 2020

    This really surprised me, the good way. I found the book very enjoyable. Concepts are a bit hazy but still nothing horrible. The prose is very readable, much more so than a lot of indie books I've read lately. Straightforward, without being simplistic, and not flowery. It's definitely worth the current price. Recommended.
  • Heart of the Maelstrom on Aug. 05, 2020

    I didn't like the second installment quite as much as the first one. It's still a good series, and I still wanted to read the third one to see how everything ends. SPOILERS I find it a bit hard to believe that such an obsessively xenophobic race would devolve into hysterical, lazy bureaucracy (although I must say it was refreshingly funny!) yet leave their home world all but undefended. The reason for which nobody thought of that before sort of works, but why are humans the ones who end up being turned into biological computers? Wouldn't the Zruthy make more sense here? Sure, they're not biological, but there's so much more of them... Still, this book has all the other qualities of the first installment: easily readable prose, and a lot of heart. Less formatting problems as well though I had to adjust the text size spacing way down. It's a worthy read but be ready to suspend disbelief a bit more than in the previous one.
  • Beyond the Expanse on Oct. 05, 2020

    Overall, I liked this book, my comments on the previous two still stand - lots to like here.
  • Permutation City on Oct. 05, 2020

    Heh, what did I just read, exactly? It was pretty wild. This is a very good book, especially if you like your science hard. The characterization is a bit "cold": none of the protagonists are all that likable, but that's not the main point of the novel. The main point is to expose some pretty wacky theories which I am not sure I followed 100%. That said, I can say that while reading it, I felt *smart* - because I could follow most of the author's explanations, and the concepts were not exactly simple. The dust theory, a major part of the book, is not necessarily to be taken seriously; indeed, it seems the author himself does not. It serves more as a thought experiment, and a rather grand one at that. What if cognition transcended the frontiers of our reality? This is basically the question asked here. I'm left a bit disappointed by the ending, which asks more questions than it answers, but this is not a book which wants to hold your hand. It's unforgiving, true, but that's what makes it so enjoyable. Despite my feelings left unfulfilled, this is still a 5/5 for me. I'm sure I'll read it again and remember it very fondly.
  • Quarantine on April 26, 2022

    Excellent book. Of course, the whole premise is a bit tongue-in-cheek (as acknowledge by the author, he does not believe this is how things work) but it's an interesting thought experiment. The conclusion is a bit abrupt, but the journey is all worthwhile. Highly recommended as a great way to get your brain twisted all sorts of way, as usual with Mr. Egan.
  • Diaspora on April 26, 2022

    The book is hard going at first, harder than Quarantine or Diaspora. And I must admit I glossed over some of the multi-dimensional physics, as I am not knowledgeable enough in those advanced concepts. Still, the scope was breathtaking. Unlike the two other books from that author which I read, this one, I found, had a definite, satisfying conclusion. It felt like a natural progression, and left me very happy I'd read the book. Highly recommended. Persevere if you're confused at first, it becomes clearer as it goes.