Q&A with B. Barmanbek, author of Culpa Innata

1.    Culpa Innata is a complex, fascinating read. How did you come up with the story?

The story was based on another work of fiction, Schroedinger’s Cat, which talked about a post-modern ultra-capitalistic environment. Schroedinger’s Cat is a great work of literary fiction with a completely different focus and story line, taking place during what I refer in Culpa Innata as The Great Meltdown. I borrowed the idea and built a universe from it, elaborating what this post-modern world, this New World Order would look like by filling in all the necessary details, and created a murder mystery intertwined with the heroine’s self-discovery under the direst of circumstances.

2.    Before it was a book, Culpa Innata was also a non-linear video game. How did that come into creation, and how was it received when it released in 2007?

With loads of difficulty. My company had developed a patented 3D head modeling technique and we’ve been trying to find an investor for it. This was soon after the “dot-com bust” and nobody was interested in another high tech startup. But the video game industry was beginning to take off and a lot of capital was pouring in. Integrating the technology to a video game made a lot of sense. But creating a video game from scratch was hard, far beyond my expectations. Except for our designer, nobody in the team had any video game production experience.

The game was received with lots of enthusiasm and made it to the Top 10 list of released games of Gamespot.com for nearly a week. Many hailed it as the “Adventure of the Year” in several countries, some even referred it as the “Adventure of the Decade”.

3.    How is the book different from the video game?

Anyone who’s a bit familiar with video game production knows what a chaotic process it is. It’s a team effort that involves creativity, technology, lots of dedication, and a ton of compromise. You have limited funding, technology, and time, with pressure from the publishers to release even if it’s incomplete. I had to make plenty of changes to my original story line as the production progressed, many layers to the story were edited out, scenes were cancelled, so much so that even my heroine didn’t look like how I’d imagined her.

In the book, the main storyline remains intact, but everything is the way it was meant to be. It honestly felt that way when I completed the manuscript. Many layers to the storyline and many characters were added, while others were edited out. In the book, there is so much depth to both characters and the story, I think the game players will be pleasantly surprised. The pacing, the narration, the ending, they’re all totally different.

4.    This story is built on the notion that a worldwide economic collapse is coming, out of which will rise a world power that effectively controls the planet. It's a pretty far-fetched notion. Or, is it?

History of the planet shows us that the steady-state of the world political structure collapses from time to time, and following a period of chaos and confusion, a new equilibrium, a new world order emerges. In the last century or so, the world got a lot smaller than it used to be. Now we live in a global village where we instantly know what’s happening at the other end of the planet. There is a significant effort to create a world government in order to make these equilibriums last longer. And all is done in the name of stability. And we are told that you can create an everlasting stability only if you can control the whole. So, whether it becomes a reality or not, there is a considerable effort to create an entity that can control the whole world.

With the ever increasing consumption boom and shrinking fertility rate, I think an economic collapse is inevitable. The problem here is that, all the economic models, monetary policies, production and consumption systems are still based on postulates made more than three centuries ago. These postulates assume humans to be simple creatures that act like an “economic man” who works for low wages, breeds mindlessly, and dies from overworking before seeing his grandkids. Well, to say the least, people are far more complex than that nowadays…

5.    In this futuristic world, people are totally selfish and self-interested, and yet, there is no murder. How?

Because they have discovered the roots of all violent conflict and established a new world order that would eradicate those roots. The reader will see that almost all of the current issues that America has today, has been solved or eliminated one way or the other, from education to economy, unemployment to abortion, psychotic behavior to budget deficit, social spending to world peace. This post-modern new world order is very good at diagnosing and prognosing global issues. Or is it?

6.    One of the most interesting characters in the book is the mystical custodian who works in Phoenix's building, who is always speaking to her in spiritual syllogisms. Was there anyone in your life who inspired this character, "Crazy Ray?"

No, not anyone living. But I come from a culture where crazy people are shown a lot of respect and tolerance, simply because people believe there is just a fine line between a crazy person and one with infinite wisdom. Crazy Ray is a mystic who speaks the words of Sufi dervishes, whose life styles and beliefs could never find a place in the post-modern new world order. His words are perceived as background noise and ignored. Only one person takes him seriously.

7.    Do you think it really is possible that electronic communications – iPhone, laptops, etc. – are destroying interpersonal relationships?  Aren't we always hearing that they help us stay in touch?

To a certain extent, they sure are. They limit the number of perception channels we can use. When you are face to face with someone, you can see, hear, touch, smell her, even feel her energy, making the experience far richer than a simple line of text. On the other hand, communications enable us to broaden our antennas to find those special people who would enrich our lives. Imagine living in a small village a century ago. How many people would you get an opportunity to meet in your lifetime? If your path had crossed with someone special, how could you keep in contact? It’s not a coincidence that the most impressive words of emotional exchange are found in letters during those times. The downside of the electronic communication is that it will create emotionally obese generations, people addicted to the shallow version of interpersonal interaction with as many people as possible, just like the ones in World Union. I fear of glutton masses, hungry for that superficial attention in any form it comes.

8.    Where can we learn more about your book, Culpa Innata? http://www.culpainnata.com/


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