Winner of the 2014 EPIC eBook Award for Science Fiction, Brian Burt, won the award with his first ever novel.
In “Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God,” Burt explores a path of world destruction caused by an attempt to reverse climate change. Humans use nanotechnology as an attempt to reverse climate change, but it ends up a disaster. Entire underwater cities
The mix of species causes friction. The Aquarians, human-cetacean hybrids, live underwater with human guardians, who protect the reefs. Most humans live on land and are Redeemers, a group working to destroy the Aquarians and take back the oceans. In the middle of these species are the Atavisms. They’re half-human, half-Aquarian and always between two worlds, which is where the story starts with Ocypode, the protagonist.
Ocypode discovers a secret that would destroy the Aquarians seemingly unwavering faith in their creator Peter Cydon. Blind faith hinders a lot of development in a few of the characters, creating conflict. Ocypode doesn’t tell anyone their “Father’s” condemning secret because he knew the Tillamook Aquarians would shun him.
Antagonist Bryce leads the Redemeers, who get on revenge the reef in a tumultuous attack killing an entire city of Aquarians by turning everything to stone. More and more cities are destroyed. Ocypode and a human guardian, Dana Sorenson, work to save all underwater sea creatures from death.
The book is filled with plot twists, changing environments, constant threats and an actual deus ex machina at the end.
Burt had originally written this universe in a short story, but the medium was too small for the story he wanted to tell.
He was worried about the “roll the dice” view on climate change that many people have, so he wrote about what would happen if humans tried to reverse climate change and everything went wrong.
“I had this vision in my head of cities being swallowed by the ocean,” Burt said. Part-human, part-dolphin creatures revived the cities in his vision.
Burt said he had a lot of sympathy for Ocypode because he was weighed down with a burden of knowledge, but couldn’t tell anyone.
“I wanted to see where he might take me,” Burt said. “The more I liked the characters, the more I liked the world.”
He did a lot of research on marine biology and the ocean by talking to a few scientists who gave great feedback.
“Thank God for the Internet,” Burt said, adding that he was paranoid of getting facts wrong.
Burt started writing in the late 1980s when he went to Ireland. Went to college at Notre Dame for business and accounting.
“I’d always loved storytelling and writing. I just admired people who could create fictional universes,” Burt said.
“Something clicked for me [in Ireland,]” Burt said. “Everyone you meet there has a knack for storytelling.” talked of the rich literary traditions in Ireland
The hardest part of writing a novel is getting started, Burt said.
“There’s something about taking that first step,” Burt said. “Getting momentum and maintaining momentum and not letting yourself get intimidated.” He said writing a novel felt like climbing Mt. Everest.
“I love being able to create a new world,” Burt said. “You have control in a fictional world that none of us have in the real world. There’s a lot of satisfaction being able to create something you find compelling.”
Burt grew up reading science fiction and dark fantasy. Some of his favorite authors are Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke (“A Space Odyssey”), Orson Scott Card (“Ender’s Game”), J.R.R. Tolkien (“The Lord of the Rings”), Tony Hillerman (“The Blessing Way”) and Jim Butcher (“The Dresden Files”).
He continuously entered the Writer’s of the Future competition and won an award in the 1990s.
“[The award] became a way for me to keep going,” Burt said.
He was shocked when he found out he won the 2014 EPIC eBook award for Science Fiction with his first novel, Burt said.
“The biggest thing for me has been it’s opened some doors,” Burt said, adding that he gained reassurance and validation for his writing.
Many new books are published each year because of self and digital publishing, Burt said. He likes that publishing has become easy, but a downside is the increase in competition.
“[Awards give] writers some help of getting attention,” Burt said.
Looking at his first book, there are things he would have changed. The second book in the trilogy “Aquarius Rising: Blood Tide” will hopefully come out early 2016, Burt said. He’s working on the third book, ”Aquarius Rising: Price of Eden.”-CONFIRM
His next series will be “very different” from his first trilogy, but will still have the environmental theme.