Nicholas Sansbury Smith (Author) • Great Wave Ink (Publisher)
Reviewed By A.S. MacKenzie
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: yes, this book is heavily sci-fi.
But I will argue with anyone who will listen, and even a few who won’t, that this book is also a straight-up horror-thriller in the vein of Terminator 2 and Ghost in the Machine.
Oh, you don’t think T2 is a horror thriller? Replace “liquid metal guy” with “hockey mask guy” and see if it rings a bell. That movie is a slasher flick of the highest order. I mean, the scene with the milk carton!
Sorry, I digress.
While Smith is well-known for his multiple, unique takes on apocalyptic stories, this is his first time really getting into a heavy sci-fi future world, but still, with the terrifying antagonists, we have come to expect.
In his Extinction Series, the variants and humans were a constant threat, likewise in the Hell Divers series, the sirens and humans were the big bad. Come to think of it, Smith has always done a great job of showing just how horrific humans can be alongside his terrible creations.
E-Day follows the story of a squad of “engines” (genetically modified warriors like futuristic samurai, complete with masks and adornments) and their place in the conflict between two great powers, The Nova Alliance and the Coalition. While one side is hoping the advancement of AI will lead to a peaceful future and one where the earth is spared/repaired from humanities awful care of it, the other side sees AI as the destruction of humanity. Their conflict pushed the Nova Alliance to advance AI using a sacrifice from their highest levels. The result is an exceedingly powerful AI that uses its massive calculations to determine outcomes of events, often before they are fully realized.
When the Coalition makes some devastating, major attacks on the Nova Alliance, a squad of engines, Shadow Squad, is at the centre of the retaliation and aftermath. While dealing with this, an unexpected and unknown event from outside their world becomes a threat to all humanity for which the AI is the only one suited to prepare a defense. This leads to what will become E-Day, a surprise that few readers will expect, but everyone will wonder what happens next.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to the next book, which is already available for pre-order.
A.S. MacKenzie Interviews Nicholas Sansbury Smith
A.S.: This book is a bit more sci-fi than some of your previous works, but still maintains the thriller aspect readers have come to expect. What brought this change?
NSS: I wanted to return to my sci-fi roots but add more technology than some of my previous books. E-Day isn’t just a military sci-fi thriller, it is a look at a possible future if our species continues to fight one another, and includes innovative ways of fixing some of the problems we see today.
A.S.: In your highly successful Extinction series, we were faced with the terrors of Variants, and in the Hell Divers series the monsters are real and bring terror to the last of humanity. What do you think brings the terror in EDay?
NSS: In my other series, there are monsters and aliens that are driven by primal instinct and hunger. In E-Day, the enemy is the Canebrake, a war-droid that is driven by their programming. The machines can’t be reasoned with and have weapons that can eliminate the entire human race, unlike the creatures in the other series where the characters might be outnumbered, but have technology to help them in their struggle for survival.
A.S.: What compelled you to write E-Day?
NSS: I always wanted to write a series about machines rising up, and I decided it was finally time after briefly introducing war-droids in my Hell Divers series.
A.S.: While your work covers the gambit of thrillers, from alien invasions, to genetic mutations, to apocalyptic shutdowns of the country, do you think you will ever write something in the supernatural realm? Or do you feel your work requires a level of ‘real-world’ realism?
NSS: I’m not sure, I’ve thought about it, but I like using science to describe monsters. For example, in the Extinction Cycle I worked with several scientists to come up with a realistic way to describe how humans could turn into zombies. To me, that’s all the more terrifying, because it could actually happen.
A.S.: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
NSS: That’s hard to do in a small space, so I will keep it simple. Life, to me, is a big story that we get to live for the better part of a century, if we’re lucky. Mine revolves around building stories and memories with my family, and telling stories to readers. I’m a lucky guy to be able to do what I love.
A.S.: What do you like to do when not writing?
NSS: Spending time with my family. I’m a new father, and have a big family that lives close to me in Des Moines, Iowa. When I’m not writing or with them, I exercise. I used to do triathlons, but now I mostly run.
A.S.: What is your favourite childhood book?
NSS: Goosebumps. Definitely Goosebumps.
A.S.: What is your favorite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
NSS: When I was a kid it was whatever the newest Smashing Pumpkins album was at the time. Now there are too many to name. I listen to a lot of epic soundtracks when I’m writing.
A.S.: What was the last great book you read?
NSS: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Phenomenal story.
A.S.: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
NSS: Joe Haldeman, Michael Crichton, DJ Molles, Hugh Howey.
A.S.: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
NSS: Quite a bit, but a lot of it is done prior to writing. I also work with experts specific fields to help make my books more accurate.
A.S.: How would you describe your writing style?
NSS: Character and action driven books that focus on human survival in unique situations.
A.S.: Do you read your book reviews?
NSS: Sometimes. When I want to torture myself.
A.S: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?
NSS: Sometimes it takes writing the wrong thing to know what the right thing is.
A.S: What are you working on now?
NSS: More E-Day and Hell Divers!
A.S: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
NSS: Raven from Trackers. He is an expert tracker and survivalist.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
NSS: Mark Watney from The Martian because he is a scientist that found innovate ways to survive on Mars.
c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.
NSS: Can I say a dog? I would want a dog. : )
Artificial Intelligence is our last hope of saving the war-ravaged Earth in this near future science fiction thriller from the apocalyptic mind of New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sansbury Smith (Hell Divers, The Extinction Cycle, Orbs).
The most advanced soldiers in human history are about to become obsolete.
Engines. Genetically modified warriors that keep the great Nova Alliance war machine churning against the enemy Coalition. Most days, Engines are all that stand between salvation and chaos. Led by legendary Engine, Captain Akira Hayashi, Shadow Squad has fought on the frontlines for a decade. They are on the brink of victory when the Coalition launches a series of desperate and devastating attacks that cripple the Nova Alliance restoration sites vital to save the dying planet.
As the sites burn and Earth’s hope of salvation fades, Shadow Squad is equipped with neural implants to connect them to Apeiron, the first hybrid-human-AI entity. She is coded for what Captain Hayashi believes is an impossible task—peace. But war isn’t the only threat to the Earth. Apeiron has uncovered a deadly secret with implications that could end all life. This rapidly approaching threat can be stopped only if humanity bands together on what will become known as E-Day, a pivotal moment that will determine the evolution—or the extinction—of the entire human race.
Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Nicholas Sansbury Smith is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Hell Divers series. His other work includes the Extinction Cycle series, the Trackers series, and the Orbs series. He worked for Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management in disaster planning and mitigation before switching careers to focus on his one true passion–writing. When he isn’t writing or daydreaming about the apocalypse, he enjoys running, biking, spending time with his family, and traveling the world. He is an Ironman triathlete and lives in Iowa with his wife, their dogs, and a house full of books.
You can follow Nicholas on Twitter @greatwaveink
Find out more about Nicholas via his official website www.nicholassansburysmith.com
A. S. MacKenzie
A. S. MacKenzie is an Atlanta based author who loves all things books, movies, games, and comics. He lives with his wife, spoiled dogs, and an unhealthy obsession with building things. He can be found building worlds in books, building plastic models, or building with wood. Check out his website at asmackenzie.com for ways to join his newsletter and read free stories. Also, he’s been known to frequent Twitter (@a_s_mackenzie) to say something vaguely interesting and Instagram (a.s.mackenzie) for food, travel, and random pics.