Author Interview: “Wicked Problems” by Alex Le Soum

I love making my characters face moral and ethical problems. You will see this in Geo 213: The Lost Expedition. But Alex Le Soum takes it to the extreme in Wicked Problems. I would strongly encourage perusers of this blog to read this interview and click through to her page.

A note from the interviewee to explain one minor detail to regular readers of this blog: “I swapped the order of Q8 and Q9, as my motivation for writing the novel followed on from the themes and it didn’t make sense otherwise.”

Thomas D. Taylor

1.) Author’s name:

Alex Le Soum

2.)  Most recent novel 

Wicked Problems

3.) Genre:

Science fiction action adventure

4.) What’s the approximate page count and word count?

470 kindle pages / 140,000 words

5.) Is this part of a series?

Yes. The Kolian Chronicles.

6.)  If this is part of a series, how many books in the series so far and how many more in the series do you plan to write?

Four books so far (preceded by Space Turbulence, High Treason, Frozen Assets). There will be a total of ten books in the series. #5 Parental Control will be published December 2011.

7.) Give us a brief summary of the novel. 

Hammer Mehran – space pilot, celebrity playboy, heir to a prestigious title and massive fortune, about to marry the hottest girl in the galaxy. Who could ask for a better life?

The Dump – a neglected backward Hammer is desperate to revitalise as one of his humanitarian efforts.

But when the overseer of The Dump is choked to death on a lump of mud, it falls on Hammer to sort out the political mess. He rapidly realises it’s going to be a trade off between alleviating the suffering of the human settlers and the emancipation of the native species, and finds himself torn between the two. Combine this with the stress of organising a televised wedding with the colour scheme of thunder, a mud-wrestling contest and an ongoing tax fraud investigation, and it’s bound to be a bumpy ride.

8.)  What are some of the major themes that are explored in this book?

Wicked problems are complex social issues typically with multiple stakeholders and lose/lose scenarios. The term was first coined by Rittel and Webber in their work “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning.” There is a lot of humour in the book and it can simply be read as a light-hearted novel. But for those who like something deeper, the topics of slavery, exploitation and complex socio-economics are presented for reflection, without being too heavy or in your face. And for anyone who doesn’t realise, slavery is still a contemporary issue here on Earth in the 21st century – “The number of slaves today is higher than at any point in history, remaining as high as 12 to 27 million.”

9.) What motivated you to write this book?

I love to give my protagonist difficult moral dilemmas with very grey boundaries. I hope some of my readers contemplate these issues and try to work out what they would do in a similar situation. I don’t propose there are any right or wrong answers – I simply want people to think. I first came across the wicked problem scenario at college. It caught my imagination and I knew it was something I wanted to explore. Life is not always about clear black and white, right and wrong choices. My work is all about getting people to think for themselves, keep challenging the status quo, never follow like sheep or become complacent. When we start blindly accepting what we are told, that is when evil triumphs.

10.) What is your opinion about the genre in general?

I think there are same fantastic new novels out at the moment. Science fiction has always provided the opportunity to break boundaries and challenge assumptions, and I see a lot of new authors publishing innovative work with a strong social message. The genre is going from strength to strength.

11) What do you think makes your book something that other people will like to read?

The book is fast-paced, action packed and full of humour. The deeper message never becomes too heavy, so I hope it will appeal to those who might not otherwise consider such social issues and, in a very gentle way, open their eyes to some of our own injustices.

12) Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my work!


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