Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author A.I. Fabler about his career, what inspires his writing, and the work that went into his latest novel, AGENDA 2060: The Future As It Happens.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
“A. I. Fabler” is the pseudonym chosen for the artificial intelligence narrator of AGENDA 2060: The Future as It Happens. At the time of writing in 2020, algorithms were designed as servants of their creators, but the story infers that will not still be the case in the year 2060. As the creator of A. I. Fabler I wanted to separate my prior work from this new genre, which is a no-holds-barred political satire.
I have been a journalist and writer for 40 years, winning a number of awards, and also had a career in global corporate finance while working in London, New York, Sydney, and New Zealand. Over the last decade I have become a fascinated observer of and commentator on technology, identity politics, and postmodernism—subjects that I believe can best be understood by recognizing that human nature is essentially immutable, and humor is the best defence against it whenever reason fails.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I wrote and illustrated a book when I was 12 years old. It featured an heroic sea captain during the Battle of Trafalgar. This was much admired by a naval officer friend of my mother and, unfortunately, resulted in my being enrolled in the Australian Naval Academy as a 17-yr old (from where I escaped to go into journalism 2 years later).
When did you take a step to start writing?
As a copywriter and journalist, I was writing every day in my twenties and thirties, but kept fiction as a creative indulgence to be pursued “in the future” when I was financially secure. Finally, in 2002 I began a novel set in Australia which I worked on for 3 years with a view to adapting it to the screen. The screenplay won an award but I wasn’t yet ready to dedicate myself to writing fulltime.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
I released that first book in 2013, after 10 years of prevarication.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
AGENDA 2060 took me less than 12 months from concept to developmental editing. Although release was delayed due to Covid, it could have been on the market 15 months from commencement.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write AGENDA 2060: The Future As It Happens?
While at a creative retreat in Italy I got into conversation with some California college academics on sabbatical and was alarmed to find how many subjects they held positions on in ways that effectively stymied open discussion. They were intelligent, but determinedly woke people who had dug themselves into entrenched positions, regarding alternative views as hand grenades. I had often used comedy of the absurd in my writing to defuse difficult subjects and I wrote some skits for their benefit about minority groups goings to extremes to outpoint each other in their claims for victim status.
The way my characters’ behaviour quickly spiralled into the realms of insanity freed these woke academics from their conscription to political correctness, enabling them to laugh. The lesson was obvious: some subjects are so serious that they can only be treated as comedy. It quickly turned into a full-length satire of the absurd.
What were your biggest challenges with writing AGENDA 2060: The Future As It Happens?
Identitarianism and cancel culture were producing so much material of the absurd that it hardly required satirizing. I was determined not to write a polemic or attempt to commentate on the origins of Critical Theory and Post Modernism, leaving that to others. My aim was to draw the reader into the future with just enough truth about today’s hot button topics to make her stop and think, while providing a fun read along the way.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
Academia is filled with chilling examples of cancel culture. My protagonist, Professor Jordan McPhee, is de-platformed from his mathematics department at a US college.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
The main Antagonist is a ruthlessly ambitious member of the bureaucracy’s elite who becomes a transsexual impostor in order to meet the diversity needs of the governing policy-making body. Lurking in the background is the thinly disguised version of George Soros who has undergone Life Xtension treatment in order to be able to continue to pull society’s strings.
What is the inciting incident of AGENDA 2060: The Future As It Happens?
The financial incentive for people to claim victimhood is such that the Government’s budget blows out and society divides into smaller and smaller groups competing with each other for elevated levels of victim status — to the point where white males become a small oppressed minority.
What is the main conflict of AGENGA 2060: The Future As It Happens?
The cruelties and absurdities that arise from the government’s policies in Agenda 2060 are the fault of human greed and hypocrisy, rather than the underlying ideals that have shaped those policies. In exposing the corruption of the ideals, the protagonists (and author) constantly fight to protect accuracy and truth in language in the face of deliberate deconstruction and obfuscation by progressive forces.
Did you plot AGENDA 2060: The Future As It Happens in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I sketched out a list of “hot button” topics and then wrote skits to showcase them. The more I wrote, the more a narrative story involving key characters began to emerge until they became the subject, and the woke elements merely provided the backdrop.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did AGENDA 2060: The Future As It Happens need?
Apart from Beta Readers throughout the develop stage I had a very good professional editor (Penguin Random House and Rolling Stone) to help polish the manuscript.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Make sure that you are deeply interested in the element that is driving your story, be it character, plot or theme. Once it bores you your writing will show it.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I have a novel about Big Pharma and Government malfeasance that was derailed by Covid as so much of it has now proved eerily prescient. That novel is going through copy editing currently with a view to publication before year end. I also have the follow-up to Agenda 2060 well advanced and that has a 2022 deadline also.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I’m proud of being a very productive writer now that I’ve dedicated myself to it full-time. That proves to me that I was not being delusional when I claimed that writing was the vocation that would decide whether I achieved my ultimate goals in life. It’s hard work getting it right. In the end the readers will decide.
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