The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Jeremy Robinson

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by Jeremy Robinson! Jeremy began his creative career as an illustrator for comic books and comic strips and worked on several small indie projects, before switching gears to writing, first screenplays and then novels. He is now the author of nearly twenty novels, including Secondworld, Pulse, Instinct, and Threshold. His latest novel, XOM-B, is available April 29th from Thomas Dunne Books. You can read an excerpt here on Tor.com!

Join us as we cover subjects ranging from beetles to space exploration, and more!

Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.

When I was ten years old, I saw a big, fat beetle get squished. I don’t recall the circumstances, but that’s not important. It’s the result that stuck with me. The beetle’s thick, viscous insides so closely resembled a crushed blueberry that, to this day, I can’t eat raw blueberries without feeling nauseous. In a pancake, muffin, or even dehydrated, no problem. But fresh? My mind screams that I’m eating a beetle…a delicious beetle.

Here’s a two-parter: If you could go back in time and change one thing in the past, what would it be? And if you could time travel to the future, who or what would you most like to see?

I’ve written about this topic twice. First in The Didymus Contingency, and then again in Omega. The conclusion that I’ve always come to is that time can’t be changed. How do I know? It would have already happened. It would already be history and there would be no way to detect it. Ignoring that, the temptation is to alter one of many personal mistakes, and yet, those events made me who I am today, and I like who I am today, so why risk my own personal future. Actually, on a grand scale, that still holds true. Changing anything on the past, if you believe it’s possible, could alter the entire future of the world, including my own birth, so I’d change nothing. Not a thing. As for the future…I think I’d like to see how it all ends, which is probably why I write about the future apocalypse so frequently.

Bad news: You’re about to be marooned alone on a desert island—name the five things you would bring along.

My first instinct was to bring my wife and kids. We’d have a good time roughing it together. But then I noticed the “alone” in the question.

  1. A fully loaded Kindle with solar charger.
  2. A good machete.
  3. A magnifying glass (for starting fires reliably, forever).
  4. Copious amounts of weather resistant rope.
  5. A spaceship. And if you think that’s just not realistic, you should read my books.

Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.

This is no secret. Godzilla. The big, green G-man has had a profound influence on my creative endeavors and imagination since I was blueberry-avoiding kid. I spent Saturday mornings watching Godzilla, Saturday afternoons pretending to be Godzilla and Saturday evenings dreaming (literally) that Godzilla was destroying my home town…and sometimes still do. In the past year, I’ve written two Kaiju stories of my own, Project Nemesis and Project Maigo, and I’m going bananas (on the inside) whilst waiting for the new Godzilla movie to be released.

Xom-B Jeremy Robinson If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your new book, who would it be?

This one is easy. The soundtrack for Xom-B, my upcoming hardcover release would be created by Daft Punk, who not only did an amazing job with the Tron soundtrack, but whose Alive album was, in part, my inspiration for Xom-B. I listened to the album while writing it and hardcore Daft Punk fans will be able to see which songs inspired my writing the most.

Would you rather discover the fountain of youth or proof of life on Mars?

The logical answer is the fountain of youth. Prolonging my life indefinitely would mean surviving long enough to witness the human race becoming a space traveling species. In that scenario, we’d be discovering life, left and right, all throughout the universe. Even better, as an immortal, I’d be perfectly suited to captaining a spacecraft to the nether reaches of the multiverse. When I’ve pictured what heaven would be like, I’ve always imagined myself free to explore the outer reaches of space. Discovering life on Mars provides a quick glimpse of that dream. Immortality would mean fulfilling that dream in full, without dying.

What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?

My father. He was a sci-fi nerd (and still is) and I spent evenings watching Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, and Buck Rogers, which carried over into my Saturday mornings of Creature Double Feature, Force Five, Robotech and all sorts of Hanna Barbara goodness including one of my personal favorites, Thundarr the Barbarian. There was very little sci-fi and fantasy in the early 80s that I didn’t absorb in full, and I haven’t really ever stopped.

What kind of apocalypse (zombie, robot, environmental, etc.) is most compatible with your survival skills? And what kind of apocalypse would you like to avoid at all costs?

Umm, all of them. Any kind of apocalypse fighting something horrible is right up my alley, whether it be zombie, robots, or kaiju. As horrible as those things are, I might actually die thinking, “What a cool way to go!” If I had to choose, based purely on survivability, I’d pick zombies. They’re the easiest to kill, and if we’re honest, would be rotted and gone in a year. Even, assuming they weren’t, zombies can generally be killed by anyone willing to get their hands dirty. Robots, not so much. The other possibilities, which I consider far more frightening (because they’re very possible)—environmental, asteroid impacts, nuclear war or viral outbreak—can’t really be affected by a person’s ability to survive. You’re pretty much a goner in those situations. So, I’ll bust out the Louisville Slugger and happily take zombies. Robot-zombies on the other hand….

List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.

  1. My novels are fun, ridiculously fast-paced, easy reading. I’m not here to change your mind about anything, convert you to a religion based on Kaiju, or preach about the evils of such and such. My goal is to entertain you. If you take something more away, that’s great (and possible), but not my focus.
  2. I write about monsters. And not just the human variety. I’ve written about aliens, zombies, killer robots, golems, the hydra, kaiju, genetic creations, cryptids, ancient myths reborn, the Nephilim and more. The style of my novel writing, in terms of content and pace is most similar to James Cameron’s Aliens.
  3. I don’t ignore characters. Okay, maybe I used to. But I’ve made a conscious effort over the years to write compelling characters who aren’t simply running and shooting their way through a book. They’re real, fleshed out people. While I enjoy praise for my plots and imagination, I really love it when people connect with my characters. I think this really comes across in Xom-B, which is action-packed, but very focused on Freeman, the main character.

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