The first in our new 3-2-1 Launch Interview series, Jason Pchajek shares a bit of insight about his new Cli-Fi thriller, Bounty.
Congratulations on your debut novel, Bounty.
Why did you choose to set your cyberpunk-esque story within a Cli-Fi narrative?
Jason Pchajek: Initially, I didn't intend it to be Cli-Fi. At first I wrote it as a standard cyberpunk story, exploring that kind of future through the lense of a Canadian, but there were always climate-related elements in it. After working with my editor and thinking on some of the conversations we were having, it made sense to more formally declare the work as part of the Cli-Fi genre as well. I think cyberpunk as a genre has always dealt tangentially or implicitly with the climate impacts we expect to see in the future—think of the world of Do Androids Dream, or the area outside Night City in Cyberpunk 2077—and I think moving forward it will be impossible to disentangle the plights of climate change from the horrors of a cyberpunk future. The two genres will continue to be intertwined, because industry, technological development, and capitalism all create the conditions of climate change, as well as serve to generate the highly privatized and corporatized world of cyberpunk fiction. The vast majority of GHG emissions come from large corporations, to a degree that the actions of everyday citizens like you and me are a drop of water in the sea that is global emissions, no matter how many cans we recycle. Now, we're seeing climate change be used as another avenue companies are using to generate profit and get taxpayer dollars to fund their transition to green alternatives. Which is something I wanted to talk about with this book.
Why did you pick Winnipeg as the geographic location that first helped shape climate survival?
Jason Pchajek: The reason was pretty simple, honestly. I've rarely seen Winnipeg, or Canada for that matter, seriously depicted in cyberpunk. I wanted to tell a story set in the city I loved, so that's what I did. I sat down and thought about what my hometown would look like in the future if we kept down this path of neoliberal economic policy, and settled on the world depicted in Bounty. Then, you think about the fact that Manitoba is perfectly located when it comes to where the impacts of climate disaster will strike, and I don't think this type of story could be set anywhere else! We're located in the longitudinal centre of the second largest country on Earth by landmass. We had to build our infrastructure to be tough so it could withstand frigid prairie winters, and sweltering prairie summers. So while climate disaster is already striking the coastal, and low-lying areas of the globe, we're perfectly positioned to respond to it, and ready ourselves for it. If there was a corner Canada could be backed into in the fight against climate change, it would be right here.
Please tell us about Argite, the remineralized carbon featured in Bounty.
Jason Pchajek: This is really cool actually. So one of the most direct ways we can reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is, well, to remove carbon from the atmosphere! In Iceland actually, there is a company called Climeworks, who builds this modular carbon-recapture system out of individual cells that are effectively large air purifiers. Air is pulled in one end of the cell, passes through a filter that collects carbon, and the new carbon-less air is blown out the other side! If we were to correctly utilize this technology, carbon recapture systems could be set up on the roofs of highrise buildings, apartment blocks, factories, department stores, you name it. All passively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in large quantities. However, we need to figure out what to do with the carbon that has been recaptured—because carbon takes up to 1,000 years to break down. The most used method currently is to inject the carbon back into the ground in large cores. Argite is a fictional material that uses this principle. Recaptured carbon is used to make an ultra-strong but light material, which in the universe of Bounty is primarily used for construction. Meant to take the thing that was killing us, and using it to build ourselves back up again.
Thank you! Looking forward to launching Bounty on September 27 at McNally Robinson Booksellers!
The year is 2120, and Nikos Wulf is at the top of his game. Within Winnipeg’s sublevels, he is the undisputed king of bounty hunters, working for the elite Bounty Commission Eco-Terror Taskforce. The job: defend the ecological infrastructure holding back climate collapse. But when a series of bounties go wrong, Nikos finds himself on the trail of a troubling new player among the city’s anti-establishment. Duty bound to protect the people, Nikos must risk it all to to unearth an insidious enemy bent on destroying everything he’s ever known.