Dan Ronco is the author of the sci-fi thrillers PeaceMaker and Unholy Domain. After a career in the I.T. field, he chose to apply his knowledge to the speculative fiction genre. His fast-paced, edgy thrillers give the reader a glimpse into a near future where artificial intelligence has wrought drastic changes in the world, but some ancient conflicts remain the same. Dan was kind enough to take time out for a brief interview.
For those unfamiliar with your work, tell us a little bit about Unholy Domain and its predecessor PeaceMaker.
In PeaceMaker, published in 2004, software revolutionaries are pushing artificial intelligence to the brink of terrorism. The prologue plunges software architect Ray Brown into a life-or-death contest with PeaceMaker, a deadly artificial intelligence that has infected most of the world’s computing devices. Ray's determination to eliminate PeaceMaker leads him into a dangerous conflict with the Domain – a clandestine organization dedicated to a new world order.
Unholy Domain, published in 2008, features David Brown, a brilliant but troubled young man raised in the dark shadow of his long-dead father, a software genius believed to have unleashed a computer virus that murdered more than a million innocents. When David receives a decade-old email that indicates his father may have been framed, he plunges into a gut-wrenching race with the real killers to discover the truth about his father... and himself. As David tracks through his father’s startling history, he stumbles into a war between the Domain, a secret society of technologists, and the Army of God, a murderous cult with a sacred mission to curtail the spread of technology and roll civilization back to a simpler era. Hunted by killers from both organizations, David unravels his father’s secrets, comes to terms with his own life, and then falls in love with a woman from his father’s past.
Tell us about the thought process that birthed this series.
I place my readers in a world set a few decades in the future, so it must be a logical projection of current technology and culture. For example, the reader should find the world of Unholy Domain believable as an outgrowth of our current environment. This requires a great deal of research. As a result, I read constantly in subjects such as artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, robotics, and other advanced technologies. I have a passion for technology, so reading isn’t a chore, it’s a gift. I am equally fascinated by human values and culture, such as economics, terrorism, politics and religion.
Searching for stress points, I attempt to project current technologies and trends two or three decades into the future, then find the crossover points of the trend lines. Unholy Domain, for example, explores the potential for conflict between religious fundamentalists and scientists on the leading edge of artificial intelligence. My stories exist at the point advanced technologies threaten our institutions, beliefs and even our survival.