by DAVE SCHWAB
Thomas Mariani has a science-fiction affliction.
That is why he’s seen every episode of every TV series in the ever-expanding universe of the Star Trek franchise, which has warped over the past 55 years into films, TV series, video games, novels, and comics.
Star Trek is what inspired Mariani, 42, a San Diego information technology professional, to write his recently released debut sci-fi novel, “Space Faction.” He will be promoting “Space Faction” at the Comic-Con Special Edition on Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 26-28. Mariani will have a table in the Artist’s Alley section of Comic-Con International, which is returning to San Diego after a two-year hiatus.
It is at Comic-Con where Mariani will officially launch “Space Faction,” the story of a society in a galaxy far far away where war has raged for years. Tired of the senseless killing, a small group of people bands together to try and end it once and for all. When they are unsuccessful, they figure a way to escape the galaxy and start over.
And, just like the author’s beloved Star Trek, the message of Mariani’s new book is simple: There is always hope – even if things look bleak.
“I pushed to get a table at Comic-Con because I thought it would be a perfect avenue full of sci-fi fans and gamers for the kind of novel I wrote,” said Mariani, who grew up watching reruns of the original “Star Trek” TV series with his dad. “That gave me the idea that we could have a good future, like that in the Star Trek utopia, where we’re not alone in the universe anymore and we can live as a species enjoying what the technological future holds with space travel.”
Mariani said the genesis of “Space Faction” actually began with “a game idea” he and some friends worked on for a while that never came to fruition. “I worked heavily on the story arc of the game, fine-tuned it, and a couple of years later said, ‘I’m going to write this,’ he said. “And I expanded the world around those ideas and the character and just ran with it.”
Discussing his evolving writing style, Mariani said: “My first inkling was just to get the story on paper, get it done.” Of how he got started out with “Space Faction” Mariani noted, “Generally I have a base idea of what would make a good book and I start writing from there. As I’m writing, the novel almost writes itself. I don’t know how it’s going to end. Sometimes I don’t know how it’s going to start. Sometimes I start in the middle and work my way back – or forward. Then I flesh out the ending, which depends on how the other areas of the book get evolved.”
Mariani clearly is going where few IT professionals have gone before with pure, hyper-imaginative science fiction. “I am writing another novel right now, it’s going to be closer to Earth than ‘Space Faction,’” he said adding, “And ‘Space Faction,’ I want to make it a trilogy.”
Of his characters in “Space Faction” Mariani noted: “My main character and my main villain, I put a lot of forethought into those characters. They were really like my little babies.”
Circling back to Star Trek in particular, and science fiction in general, with their frequently socially relevant themes Mariani, noted: “From the earliest days science fiction has had more to do with the stories, then with the special effects. The good stories are what drove people to the genre.”
And the author likes that sci-fi films, movies and books are usually technology-propelled. “It’s about how civilizations or species change with technology, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad,” Mariani said. “Science fiction always represents a huge leap forward – or a huge leap backward – toward an apocalypse or a future utopia. There’s always some form of major change that happens in most science-fiction stories. It’s a window into what we can become, for better or worse. And we can learn a lot from science fiction about where we can go.”