Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Featured Author: Dan O'Brien


Welcome to the fifth day of The Journey blog tour. It will run until August 9th and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:

The Frozen Man. The Translucent Man. The Burning Man. The Wicker Man. The guide known only as the Crossroads, together these are the signposts and totems of the world that the being called the Lonely inhabits. Seeking out the meaning of his journey, the Lonely is a being consumed by philosophical inquiry and adventure. Filled with exotic places and age-old questions, the Journey is a book that seeks to merge the fantastical and real. Join the Lonely as he seeks out answers to his own existence and perhaps the meaning for us all. 



A few questions for the author:


Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones? 

This is a tough question. I would not want to lose old memories because they make me who I am. Though without the ability to form new memories, I would never be able to change and adapt to the world around me.


Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first? 

In a clinical sense, yes. However, I think we learn the most about the nature of truth when we challenge rigid and unfounded ideas that drive our life. I am a strong proponent of rallying against institutional ideas to learn as much as we can about the vastness of our universe. 


Has your greatest fear ever come true? 

Not yet, and I hope it never does.



Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:


V
The Frozen Man


The Lonely marched into the darkness that was the tundra. The cold was all around him, though he felt nothing, neither warmth nor freezing cold. A man stood alone in the field, his features obscured.

“Why have you come to the North?” called the figure.

“I seek answers. I wish to know of the Truth.”

“Then you are the Lonely. I am called the Frozen Man.”

“Tell me of the North, Frozen Man.” 

The Frozen Man was a pale silhouette defined by coal black eyes and hair. He spoke without inflection, without emotion, without feeling. “The North is a cold place, a desolate place. There is nothing here but survival. There cannot be failure, for failure is the death of the mind.”

“But how can there be success without failure?”

“There is no emotion here, no feeling. We of the North do not require emotions. Our success comes from science, not from emotions. Our accomplishments are different from all others. Ours are hollow, though we cannot see that.”

“Why are you here in the cold?”

“Cold permeates my being, my core. My body long ago ceased to possess the fire of passions, of emotions. A shell remains. This is the price I have paid to become the man I am. Though it was truly only half a life.”

The cold winds blew over the Lonely and the Frozen Man, their still forms holding strong against the elements. If there was nothing here to begin with, then against what were they truly holding strong?

“Why am I here?” called the Lonely.

“This is not your place. This place is for those who truly feel nothing. Those who have left nothing behind.”

“Then my answers cannot be found here?”

“The questions for which you seek answers can only be provided by the one who holds the keys to your creation: the Keeper of the Fates. Though he is no farther from you than you are to me.”

“I feel strange, as though I had just begun, or just ended. This place is so familiar, yet so distant. Why do I feel as I do?”

“This place is both a beginning and an end. Your presence here is a journey, one which molds you, shaping the person you will become.”

“Who am I?” spoke the Lonely. 

The winds shifted yet again, but neither entity moved. 

The world around them howled in silence, in the vast emptiness that was both nothingness and infinity. The Frozen Man’s features had shifted. His skin had grown paler, so much so that it was now azure. 

It was the color of the icy waters of frozen lands. 

“You are the Lonely,” the Frozen Man spoke. 

“What does it mean to be the Lonely?” iterated the monotone, unflinching figure of the Lonely. 

The Frozen Man’s face sluiced with icicles as if he were growing ever colder. “That is perspective. Your name here in the North would be of high status. To achieve a place where you require no solace or emotion would be a gift. True solitude would allow for incomparable logics and histories.”

The Lonely wrung his hands and looked down at the tattered rags that he wore. “Why do I not have fine clothes?”

“There is no need for such frivolities here. For in the North, it is your mind that is the greatest commodity. Why would any man place a material thing such as riches above intelligence? What can be gained by this?” returned the Frozen Man, his coal eyes watching the Lonely. 

The Lonely looked off into the distance and saw only more tundra. The landscape about him was nothing more than a never-changing white sheet splashed occasionally with peaks and valleys of a useless existence. “To base one’s life? To give meaning?” the Lonely returned quizzically. 

“Is intelligence not a grand enough reward, worthy enough pursuit?”

The Lonely shook his head, running his hands over his face. He felt for the first time that his skin was smooth, and warm. “Perhaps, but at the expense of longing and connection it may be too little of an effort for a life.”

The Frozen Man faded and then reappeared behind the Lonely. This time it stood twice the height of the smaller man. “We must all focus and commit to something. Can you think of something nobler? More important?”

The Lonely looked upon the horrific image of the giant Frozen Man. “I do not know. How can I possibly? I do not remember who I am or how I came to be here.” Then lowering his head, he mumbled. “Am I dead?”

“What is death?” echoed the Frozen Man.

The Lonely shook his head, defeated. 

“To not live? Cessation of functions?”

The wind howled across them, but the Lonely could not feel the frigid touch of the gales, nor hear its mammoth cry. “To die is then to cease brain function? Is that what you believe?”

The Lonely shrugged; the act as difficult for him as it had been for Atlas. “I do not know,” he answered.

The Frozen Man nodded, crossing his mighty arms across his chest. “Then by that definition you are dead. Your body is no longer functioning in the realm from which you have come. Here you are anew.”

“Then am I not alive?” replied the Lonely, lifting his head to meet the empty gaze of the Frozen Man. Touching his skin and pressing his palms together, he gestured. “Am I not form again? Is this not a state of being?”

“What then is life?” mocked the Frozen Man.

The Lonely kicked aimlessly at the snow beneath his feet. As he did so, he realized that he wore no boots, nor shoes. 

His feet were barren and his skin tan. 

“I have no shoes.”

The Frozen Man did not seem surprised. “If you did not have a coat, why then would you possess foot coverings?”

“Is this all a dream?” whispered the Lonely. “How can I know that I am not dreaming?”

The Frozen Man had ceased to resemble a man any longer and appeared more as an ice creature. A gargantuan mound stood where the Frozen Man had previously and only the voice emanated from the mountain of ice. “To dream is a state in which there are concurrently literal and figurative meanings.”

“This must be a dream,” repeated the Lonely. 

“A dream can be had when one is conscious or unconscious. To have a dream is to possess a wish or hope for the future to which all subsequent actions are directed. Are you asleep? Imagining this? Perhaps, but how could you tell? I would not know the answer to that question. Only you could know such a thing,” answered the Frozen Man, its voice like thunder rising from the depths. 

“I have never dreamed such a dream as this. As well, I had never wished to be bound to such a place; so by your definition this cannot be a dream,” began the Lonely slowly. “However, that is by your definition and if this were a dream, then it would be based on my definitions, my wants and beliefs.”

The mound shuddered and the Lonely turned away. 

A white glow struck out that was soon accompanied by a piercing whine that rose and rose yet again, until the mound dissipated in a storm of ice crystals. Removing his hand from his eyes, the Lonely saw that the Frozen Man had returned: where before it had been a pale man, it was now only the metallic exoskeleton of a robot. 

Pivots and rotors of steel framed the creature. 

It was now the very core of what it wished to be. 

The Lonely looked upon what the Frozen Man had become. “You do not see a difference, do you?” queried the Lonely. “In yourself, when you look upon yourself. When you see yourself now it is as it has always been?”

The Frozen Man nodded. 

“Flesh, humanity, emotion. These are devices and totems that hold no merit. We of the North require none of them. We are whole in our intelligence.”

The Lonely was not satisfied. 

“Your intelligence cannot be complete when you see only one piece of the spectrum. To believe yourself whole by adhering only to the tenants of a pure intelligence, you neglect the aspects of other forms of intelligence. There is much more than accumulated knowledge. Can you not see that in all of your perceived wisdom?”

“By shedding all human endeavors, we can understand what makes them weak, incomplete. In our objectivity we need not experience them, only witness and catalogue,” replied the Frozen Man. 

“There is not one form of intelligence greater than that of another. You speak as though the ones inferior are not worthy of your time. They are equal in the balance of things,” offered the Lonely. 

The scream was like that of a thousand voices breaking upon one another. The mountains shook, the ice split at the feet of the Lonely. “Lies.”

The Lonely stepped forward, moving away from an ever-growing crack at his bare feet. “They are not lies, but perspective, true objectivity. What you look upon as truth is little more than the subjective product of your unfair judgments.”

The Frozen Man shook violently, the pistons of its joints spewed wildly. Its face, no longer masculine or feminine, contorted horrifically. “No, what you speak of is evil. Those are lies.”

“Is it evil to speak the truth?”

The Frozen Man had begun to hunch. 

“The Truth is. It is without right and wrong, for morality is created by societal law influenced by perspective. Therefore information is neither evil nor good, but instead detrimental in the hands of those who do not understand.”

The Lonely nodded. 

“Precisely, so what I speak is simply information that is hurtful because of what you believe. That does not make it truth or lies, it simply is.”

The Frozen Man had been reduced to little more than a dwarfish version of itself. “There are no more answers for you here. Leave at once.”

The Lonely opened his mouth to reply, but he felt a force tug upon the very fiber of his being. At first in one direction and then another, until his body was being pulled in so many directions that he felt as if he was going to be torn into nothingness. The world before his eyes was at once light and darkness and he faded.




Author Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here: http://www.amalgamconsulting.com/.




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