From decades-old classics to recent releases like Legend, Jason M. Hough lists the novels and real-life situations that inspired his futuristic series, The Dire Earth Cycle.
Before I dive into the works that influenced me, it’s worth
a quick recap of the backstory in my series. Set in Darwin, Australia in
the late 2200’s, humanity has struggled through a long slump in terms of real
technical innovation. Then an alien vessel arrives and constructs a space
elevator, which stirs our collective imagination and serves as an
awakening. However, just as we are becoming energized about science and
technology again, these same aliens trigger a devastating plague, leaving only
Darwin, Australia inhabitable. Before the first book even starts, a
largely dystopian world turns hopeful and then is, inexplicably,
destroyed. It is through this triple lens that the story and characters
are drawn, and my influences came from facets of all three.
I also spent a lot of time researching actual “dire earth”
situations in our world. Pictures and video from places like Kowloon
Walled City in Hong Kong, travel-blog accounts of North Korea, as well as my
own visits to Vietnam and Mexico City have helped me gain an understanding of
what life in my fictional version of Darwin, Australia might be like.
As mentioned, the series also has a post-apocalyptic
element. In this area I drew inspiration from many novels, including The
Stand by Stephen King, Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon, and of
course numerous books and movies exploring the zombie apocalypse.
The situations described in these great works influenced me
greatly, and combining elements and impressions from all of them made my own
writing process fascinating.