The latest segment of “Author’s Corner” in America Tonight with Kate Delaney features Canadian author Benoit Blanchard, author of the sci-fi/fantasy thriller Cyberbrain: Guardian Angel (FriesenPress; 2020).
Cyberbrain: Guardian Angel dazzles as a sci-fi novel with dystopian tones, well-developed mysterious characters, and an intriguing storyline. The book is the second installment in Blanchard’s Cyberbrain series; the first book, Cyberbrain, was published in 2014. A third novel is currently in the works and is expected to be published in 1-2 years.
The novel takes place in the mid-21st century, where newborns in the U.S.A.are legally required to be fitted with an electronic device called “cyber” that has successfully slashed crime rates by changing the thought patterns of the people who have them. A great part of the story takes place in Canada, where cybers are illegal.
Max Wilson, the first man to successfully have his cyber surgically removed, has settled in the country to seek a new life. He joins Dr. Warren Alston, the neurosurgeon who operated on Max, to fight the cyber threat. Dr. Alston now teaches other surgeons how to remove cybers, and Max becomes part of an operation to smuggle devices into the U.S. that disable cybers without surgery. A mysterious man calling himself “Guardian Angel” begins threatening them. Meanwhile, a sinister political plot is brewing amid the election.
From dream to paper
“I had a dream once,” said Blanchard when asked by Kate Delaney about the origin of his story, “about someone who had such a device implanted in his brain. The device was defective, and it wasn’t doing its job, so he felt like he had to flee from the law of his country in order to be free. That dream gave me the idea for the novel.”
The U.S.A and Canada on differing paths
Cyberbrain: Guardian Angel reveals cybers are mandated by law to be implanted in newborns in the United States, while in Canada, they are illegal.
“How did you decide,” asked Delaney, “it would be kind of neat to take both the efforts of Canada and look at the efforts of the United States to stop the threat of cyber?”
“Actually, in the novel, one country (the U.S.A.) went ahead with this threat,” said Blanchard, who is originally from Montreal. “Well, it didn’t call it a threat, but it went ahead with the project while the other country, Canada, decided not to go with it.”
“So you made the United States the bad guys in a way,” said Delaney, laughing.
“Actually, it worked better with the geography of everything because of the Buffalo area. You have Buffalo, which, although the city is in the United States, lives very much in the shadow of Toronto (in Canada). You can feel that in the entire city.”
Who is Dr. Warren Alston?
“Dr. Warren Alston is a neurosurgeon who was recruited to implement the cyber program. He was all against it. He performed one procedure, and then he called it quits. He even gave his resignation effective immediately and then fled to Canada. He got tenure to teach at McGill University, and he is preparing his own revenge against the program to stop it.”
Putting extra effort behind the novel
Drawing from his reflections on the Batman movies directed by Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, Blanchard wanted to “do something that can be credible in the real world.”
“That was my biggest challenge,” he told Delaney.
So what did Blanchard do to make sense of his story and make it more accurate?
“I had to take a crash course in medicine, especially neuro medicine. I never studied in that field.”
Make sure to listen to the whole interview.
Order Cyberbrain: Guardian Angel by Benoit Blanchard today on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Cyberbrain-Guardian-Angel-Benoit-Blanchard/dp/1525543490