Tacoma native Erik Hanberg is a man who wears many hats. One day, you may see him fulfilling his duties as commissioner of Metro Parks Tacoma; on another, you may spy him petitioning to pay tribute to legendary scribe and fellow Tacoman Frank Herbert, author of the Dune series, by loaning the same moniker to a local park. More recently, you may have spied him signing copies of his newly released novel, The Lead Cloak, Book One of the Lattice Trilogy,at King's Books.
This sci-fi novel is a page turner: The year is 2081 and people are living experiences, hearing thoughts and seeing sights through the eyes of others. No amount of distance, or even era in time, serves as a barrier to whom a person can live through. Thanks to the Lattice, everything is just a "jump" away. People can relive personal victories, good jokes, epic battles of history, you name it. Col. Byron Shaw protects the Lattice, even to the point of risking his life for it, as his journey takes him from valiant protector to a man wrestling with demons of doubt while residing with raiders. Has he been fighting for the wrong side?
The book is a phenomenal collection of characters, with no one playing ultimate villain or reigning good guy, much as in real life. While the novel is of the sci-fi genre, you need not be a geek to enjoy it. Hanberg doesn't overload the reader with science fiction mumbo jumbo, and as a matter of fact, the future laid out seems a perfectly logical one considering lightening fast advancements in technology and what seems to be society's obsession with over sharing and online voyeuristic-like habits. The Lead Cloak flows well and makes a natural progression through the main character's inner workings. The end leaves you hungry for the next installment.
I had the divine opportunity to connect with Hanberg and pick his brain after digesting the book.
WEEKLY VOLCANO: This is your first sci-fi novel, correct? What ignited the idea or desire to develop The Lead Cloak?
ERIK HANBERG: The Lead Cloak was born out of time travel novels. I thought it was much more likely that we would be able to see the past than it was that we could go to the past. The technology and the story after that came from there.
VOLCANO: How long did it take The Lead Cloak to materialize from an idea to the piece of work it is today?
HANBERG: The rough idea for "The Lattice" came to be eight years ago or so. I first started writing April 24, 2011. It's been a long time since then. But I'm glad I stuck with it.
VOLCANO: The story certainly brings up some things that make you think, considering the popularity of social media and swiftly evolving technology. As Col. Shaw struggles with his own inner dialogue in regard to the Lattice, was it your intention to make people take pause in regard to their own online/social media habits, and/or is this something you've done on purpose. i.e. is there meant to be a moral to the story?
HANBERG: There's not exactly a "moral" to the book, as characters make good arguments for and against the Lattice. The Lattice enables its users to do amazing things, and yet it has the capacity to destroy people's lives and culture as well. I think it's pretty clear that it's a direct parallel to how people use the Internet today. Shaw's experience of the Lattice is very much like what we're going through today in terms of privacy and how often we are on our phones instead of focusing on the people around us.
VOLCANO: This in particular brought to mind one quote in the book that got me thinking: "He eloquently described how the Lattice had stifled innovation and creativity. How it killed true intimacy and the real connections that could be formed between two people." What are some of your favorite sci-fi stories, and did any in particular influence your storytelling in The Lead Cloak?
HANBERG: I'm a big fan of Frank Herbert, of course, a Tacoma native and author of Dune. I devoured Ray Bradbury and Star Trek growing up, too. But I should mention more recent sci-fi writers like Kim Stanley Robinson and his excellent Mars Trilogy.
VOLCANO: The raiders are a bit of a motley crew. Do you favor or feel a connection to any one in particular?
HANBERG: I identify with all of the characters in one way or another. I liked writing Taveena's Ahab-like dedication. Jpeg, too, if for no other reason than his name.
VOLCANO: When is the next installment projected to be released? And what can we expect from it?
HANBERG: I don't want to give any spoilers to anyone who hasn't read the first book, except that it will pick up within minutes of the ending of The Lead Cloak. I'm working hard on it right now, but it's still too early to say when it will be ready.
VOLCANO: Most importantly, if we had the Lattice now, what would be your first jump?
HANBERG: Ooh, good question. I would go to space. I love space. I'd check out over Saturn's rings, visit Mars and maybe dive into Titan's clouds and see what was there. I'd probably check out some history, too. Maybe George Washington at Valley Forge? Venice during the height of their empire? Once you start thinking about where you'd like to visit, you can see why so many people don't want to get rid of the Lattice.
For more details about the book and where you can purchase it visit, haveyoujumped.com.
Erik Hanberg will sign The Lead Cloak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17 at the Tacoma Public Library Main Branch, 1102 Tacoma Ave. S., in downtown Tacoma.