A life long Connecticut resident, Brian Trent, was born in Waterbury CT, once nicknamed ‘Brass-City’ for it’s manufacture of watches and clocks through the first half of the 20th century. Since his earliest memory, Brian has had a life long fascination with discovering how the world and space ‘tick’. A passion, he most likely picked up from spending time his family, also science fiction fans.
This past April, Brian Trent was honored by Writers of the Future in Hollywood for his story “War Hero”. We asked him to write about his experience.
I had been writing stories since childhood, scribbling adventure tales on stacks of yellow legal pads. For my sixth birthday my parents bought me a typewriter (a metallic blue Brother 11) and my way of thanking them was to incessantly pound out stories late into the night like an over caffeinated drummer. Then I’d mail these stories to prospective magazines; since my penmanship resembles a cross between drunken cuneiform and double-exposed Chinese calligraphy, I can’t be sure how many ultimately reached their destinations.
Flash-forward to 2012. I wrote “War Hero” on my computer, which is quieter than my typewriter and doesn’t jam if I type too fast (although most of the white lettering has long since worn off of the keys; I still type like other people drum.) I mailed the story to the Writers of the Future Contest, one of the most prestigious competitions of the genre, and waited. Half of the struggle in this business is learning to wait.
In December, I get the phone call: “Mr. Trent? I’m calling to let you know that your story has just been selected as a winner in the 29th Annual Writers of the Future Contest.” Ah! I could finally justify to my parents the many nights I kept them up with the clack-clack-clack of my typewriter! In April, I was flown out to Hollywood, taken through an exquisite week-long writing workshop, met the luminaries of the field, and got to give an acceptance speech.
I first sat down to write “War Hero” in order to explore an idea: If minds can be uploaded and downloaded at will, how does that change the face of war? What if the war criminal you’re tracking can literally be anyone, and you’re never really sure if you’ve eliminated the last copy? To be sure, mind-uploading is a theme I’ve explored before (Apex Magazine’s latest issue features my story “A Matter of Shape-space” which also tackles this prickly issue) but “War Hero” took the concept and galloped straight into an especially grisly lair of ideas.
Whether grisly or not, ideas are the fuel behind all fiction. Ideas are what kept my six-year-old self up late at night, hammering out tales of exotic places and possible futures. Ideas are what books communicate across generations and civilizations, from stone tablet to electronic tablet, from yellow legal pad to whatever we’ll be using tomorrow. What WILL we be using tomorrow?
Time to explore another idea…