Will McIntosh, author of Love Minus Eighty, Soft Apocalypse, & Hitchers [read my review of Love Minus Eighty] was kind enough to join us today and tell us how Modern internet dating birthed the idea for the Cryogenic Dating Center in his newest novel Love Minus Eighty!
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How Modern Internet Dating Influenced Love Minus Eighty
Between writing Love Minus Eighty and writing features in the run-up to its release, I’ve thought a great deal about love, relationships, dating, and what they’ll be like in the future. I can confidently say that I find it far easier to imagine how, say, restaurants will change in the future, or weapons, than the way we meet and fall in love. Maybe that’s why there aren’t many SF novels specifically about love and dating. There are plenty of depictions of people falling in love in SF novels, but typically the way the lovers meet, and how they fall in love, looks pretty much like how it happens presently.
When I first began writing Love Minus Eighty, I’d only been married for two years. My wife and I got married less than a year after we met, so I was single and unattached only three years before I started the novel. My own experiences are most definitely reflected in the vision of the future of dating I’ve set out in the novel. I lived in a small town, so trolling through Internet dating sites was unavoidable. (I met my wife through one of these sites, although, ironically, her office was about 100 yards away from mine.) Although Internet dating sites are an incredibly efficient way to meet people, I found them excruciating, and depressing as hell. I had to take frequent breaks. This is reflected in the high-tech version of online dating I describe in LME, where matchmaking experts quantify people’s potential compatibility, and describe dating as a numbers game, and where people leave lifeless holographic images of themselves in singles bars, and only occupy them if someone interesting approaches.
If you’ve ever browsed a dating website, you’ll notice that a good number of people post photos that are professionally done. They’re glamour shots, carefully posed and retouched, that must have set these prospective dates back three or four hundred dollars, easy. There are also services out there that will write your profile for you, and even “screen” prospective dates for you by exchanging emails with them, pretending to be you. That’s where the dating coaches in Love Minus Eighty come from. I took it a step farther, depicting dating coaches who secretly feed people lines while they’re actually on dates, but really, how big a leap is that from what’s already out there?
Another difficult aspect to online dating, if you’re a heterosexual man, are the messages you receive from women who are clearly trying to escape from difficult circumstances in developing countries. Beautiful young women write to you, and it’s a little heartbreaking to think many might be willing to marry men they don’t love–don’t even know–to escape difficult lives. Some years ago I bumped into an acquaintance in the post office who’d gotten divorced a few years earlier. He proudly pulled a photo of his new fiancé from his wallet. She was Southeast Asian, thirty years younger than him, and gorgeous. He’d met her online, flown to her country for a few days to meet her, and was planning to fly back to marry her a few months later. If I had to isolate one current-day situation as the inspiration for the bridesicle program in Love Minus Eighty, these so-called “mail order brides” would be it.
Now, if you haven’t read Love Minus Eighty, you’re probably thinking it must be a dark, dark novel based on what I’ve written. It is, and it isn’t. The thing is, it’s about love. Through all that darkness, all the dystopian elements, I was writing about one of the most basic, life-affirming aspects of the human condition, so there’s a lot of light in the novel as well. I wasn’t out to make love and dating in the future seem wholly bad or good, I was striving to create a tapestry of experiences related to love and dating. I wanted to depict some nightmares that might spring from the intersection of love and technology, some misguided relationships destined to fail, people settling for less than their romanticized image of true love, and some good old-fashioned true love. Most of all, I wanted to write a compelling story that readers would enjoy. If you decide to give Love Minus Eighty a try, I hope I succeed on that front.
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Years in the future, dead women in cryogenic dating farms await rich, lonely suitors to resurrect them and take them home. LOVE MINUS EIGHTY follows interconnected lives touched by these dating farms. There’s Rob, who accidentally kills a jogger, then sells everything to visit her, seeking her forgiveness but instead falling in love. Veronika, a socially-awkward dating coach, finds herself responsible for the happiness of a man whose life she saved against his will. And Mira, a gay woman accidentally placed in the heterosexual dating center near its inception, desperately seeks a way to reunite with her frozen partner as the centuries pass. In this daring and big-hearted novel based on the Hugo-winning short story, the lovelorn navigate a world in which technology has reached the outer limits of morality and romance.
Will McIntosh’s debut novel, Soft Apocalypse, was a finalist for both a Locus award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. His second novel, Hitchers, was published in 2012 by Night Shade Books. He is a frequent contributor to Asimov’s, where his story “Bridesicle” won the 2010 Reader’s Award, as well as the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. His third novel, Love Minus Eighty (based on “Bridesicle”) was published by Orbit books in June, 2013. Will recently moved to Williamsburg, Virginia with his wife Alison and twins Hannah and Miles. He left his position as a psychology professor in Southeast Georgia to write full time, and still teaches as an adjunct, at the College of William and Mary. WEBSITE