Christopher Hinz is an author of science fiction thrillers – novels, comic books, screenplays and more.
Born in 1951 in Reading, PA, USA, his early passion for all things SF led to the writing of his first “book” in elementary school. A four-page epic, it featured a giant monster brought back from Mars who escapes and climbs the tallest building in Chicago, only to be blasted from that perch with a nuclear cannon. The inevitable fallout, along with other youthful digressions, steered Hinz away from science fiction writing – and Chicago – for many years.
His first mature work, LIEGE-KILLER, was originally published in 1987 by St. Martin’s Press. ANACHRONISMS, ASH OCK and THE PARATWA soon followed. The latter two novels, together with LIEGE-KILLER, form “The Paratwa Saga.”
A subsequent foray into comic books led to a number of publications, including creator-owned GEMINI BLOOD (with artist Tommy Lee Edwards) and DEAD CORPS (with artist Steve Pugh) for DC Comics, and BLADE for Marvel Comics, also with Pugh. An evolution into screenwriting resulted in the sale of BINARY, a script based on LIEGE-KILLER.
In addition to other SF projects, he has worked a variety of Earth-based jobs, including picture framer, turret-lathe operator, TV technical director and newspaper staff writer. He has played in rock bands, modeled dioramas and designed and marketed an auto racing board game. He currently creates new stories from the semi-seclusion of a wooded realm in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Binary Storm marks my return to the universe of the Paratwa. It will be published this fall by Angry Robot Books. A standalone novel, it nevertheless serves as a prequel to the three books of the Paratwa Saga, which begins with Liege-Killer and concludes with Ash Ock and The Paratwa.
The original Saga tells the story of Nick and Gillian, two men awakened from Earth’s ultra-violent past into peaceful space colonies orbiting a destroyed and lifeless home world. They’re tasked with hunting down the deadliest of the binaries, the Paratwa assassins, who survived Earth’s Armageddon and once again threaten humanity’s future.
Each genetically engineered binary is a single consciousness inhabiting two human bodies known as tways. In essence, a binary is a person with the disconcerting ability to exist simultaneously in two locations. It’s not easy sneaking up on a binary, especially if the tways are back to back and perceiving the world in all its 360-degree glory. Combine such a native talent with an enhanced neuromuscular system and combat training from birth, and it’s easy to see why the assassins are the most formidable warriors ever created.
I first envisioned the concept of binaries decades ago while in my twenties. I was in the midst of a period of personal growth, aka therapy, and attuned to the notion that our emotions and our intellects–what we feel and what we think–often can be at odds. I played around with the idea of such a dichotomy until it assumed a rough shape of its own. That primordial blob of incandescent thought was then streamed through a consciousness already energized by a lifelong passion for science fiction. Refined and solidified, it formed the basis for the Saga.
It was a great story premise and I had a blast writing the three novels. But I knew when I reached the end of the third book that I didn’t have much interest in going forward. However, the idea of a backward temporal jaunt–a prequel–always proved intriguing. Over the years, I considered how I might tell such a tale. It would detail and expand upon the monumental events only hinted at in the Saga: how Nick and Gillian form their somewhat antagonistic friendship; the deeper nature of the global forces ripping the world asunder; the political machinations of the Paratwa’s ruling breed; and much more.
Yet although some publishers expressed interest in a prequel, for a long time I wasn’t ready to take the plunge. Instead, I transmogrified the concept of binaries into other media: a nine-issue comic book series for DC (Gemini Blood), a screenplay, a graphic novel, a short story and a few other fledgling efforts that never took flight. Although none of these excursions into related media adhered strictly to the continuity of the three novels, they were a lot of fun to write. Better yet, they helped keep the idea of “twofers” at the bleeding edge of consciousness.
But then in 2015, the wheel turned. Or the world changed. Or perhaps galactic integrators from the Nineteenth Cycle of the Commonwealth of Restoration invaded my dreams. Whatever the case, I found myself passionately enthusiastic about writing a fourth book. But whereas Liege-Killer and its followups might be classified as post-apocalyptic fiction, I knew that “Binary Storm” would be somewhat of an obverse story, perhaps better described as a pre-apocalyptic novel.
Dichotomy. I liked it then and I like it now.
The new book’s focus is the late 21st century, an era when the Earth is in a precarious state. Environmental degradation, nuclear holocausts and an undeclared war between humans and Paratwa have burned through many of the pillars supporting human civilization. A minority of the population is blessed with unbridled wealth and superior technology, and they sequester themselves from the growing majority who struggle just to survive (a state of affairs echoing our own era, not to mention just about every other period in recorded history). But here, rich and poor are in the same boat and it’s a boat that’s sinking fast. A small band of brave souls fight against impossible odds to steer humanity toward the safety of a viable shore.
As with the earlier books, I submerged Binary Storm in the holy waters of my most treasured storytelling prototype. Once again there’s a mix of audacious characters, furious action, behind-the-scenes political intrigue and a plot torqued with more twists, surprises and weirdness than a U.S. Republican presidential campaign.
I knew from the outset that the novel had to serve two audiences. It had to be a self-contained story in order to spread the welcome mat for readers unfamiliar with the Saga. Yet it also had to provide longtime fans with an appealing trek amid the touchstones of a familiar universe.
Has this binary goal been achieved? I hope so but time will tell. All I can say with certainty at the moment is that embarking on such a dichotomous odyssey has been a remarkably enjoyable experience.