This post is brought to you by E.S. Yu, author of Eidolon.
Welcome, E.S. Yu, to empathyseries.com! Your science fiction novel, Eidolon, is now available in ebook everywhere and in print from most major retailers. What’s this novel about, and why did you decide to write it?
Hi, thank you so much for having me! In a nutshell, Eidolon is about an assassin, Vax, who works for Cyrex Corp, a bioaugmentation corporation in future America. When he fails to assassinate Zai, a journalist, he gets dragged into Zai’s mission to expose Cyrex for wrongdoing. In the process, Vax realizes he might not know as much about himself as he thinks he does, but learning the truth of who he is could destroy him.
This novel emerged out of my longstanding desire to write an assassin-and-intended-target enemies-to-lovers romance, which unconsciously got thrown into a blender with my experiences with depression and struggling as a multiply marginalized person in general. The result is a bit dark and angry, but I also wrote it to be the source of hope that I needed but couldn’t find.
Have you written in other genres before, or has sci-fi always been your primary focus as an author? What appeals to you most about writing sci-fi?
I actually write in a variety of different genres, though most of the time I stick closer to the realm of fantasy, so Eidolon is a bit of a departure for me! Sci-fi is a genre that appeals to me for its ability to explore the promises and pitfalls of technology. Things like neural biomodification both unsettle and fascinate me, and sci-fi is the perfect genre to explore them. Also, it’s interesting to use sci-fi as a way to explore what might be the same or different about our society in the future. I chose to set Eidolon in a future American society where there is no sexism or homophobia—and yet there is still no universal healthcare, and marginalized people are still generally exploited by people with privilege and power.
Would you say Eidolon focuses more on character, classic sci-fi tropes and themes, or the world in which the novel takes place? In other words, what really lies at the heart of this story?
The characters, for sure. I’m a very character-driven writer in general. The heart of this story is definitely Vax’s journey as a character, and his story is, for me, a deeply personal one of loss and slowly trying to figure out how to move forward, how to envision a future when one has lost everything.
The push-and-pull relationship between Vax and Zai is also part of the emotional core, at least in my mind. Although the romance is quiet and subtle in some respects, their relationship was the initial seed from which the rest of the story was grown.
What makes this novel stand out from other science fiction reads?
That’s a great question! I would say the focus on the main characters’ relationship and internal struggles is different from other science fiction novels. I think Eidolon reflects my love of genre-blending stories from a brief stint in fanfiction, so romance arguably plays a more prominent role in the story than is typical for science fiction.
Also, as a reader, I’ve always wanted a deeper exploration of psychological consequences for characters in fantasy and science fiction. It breaks my suspension of disbelief when authors put characters through extremely stressful situations, yet the characters emerge mentally unscathed, or any trauma is “cured” through the power of love. I very deliberately wrote Eidolon with the goal of exploring the psychological toll of being an assassin and of what it feels like to lose everything in one’s life. And then I spent a long time delving into the difficulty of dealing with the lingering trauma and depression after transitioning into a more normal civilian life, which, from my beta readers’ reactions, is pretty unusual for this kind of story. But it was important for me, on a personal level, to provide a realistic depiction of depression and PTSD rather than gloss over the issues in favor of an easy ending.
What do you hope readers take away from Eidolon after having read it?
I hope readers take away a sense that, even though the world can be a grim and unfair place, there is still hope even in the darkest of places.
What’s next for E.S. Yu, and where can readers find you online?
Currently, I’m looking for a home for a fluffy queer vampire romance—quite different from Eidolon! And among several WIPs, I’m working on a queer romance with #ownvoices Chinese American rep that is very dear to my heart.
Thanks to E.S. Yu for joining us for this guest post!
You can find E.S. online at the links below.
E.S. Yu is a writer of speculative fiction and queer romance. A recovering law school graduate, E.S. is invested in intersectional diversity in fiction. When not reading or writing, E.S. can be found playing video games, watching superhero movies, and living off green tea while plotting an escape from her day job. E.S. follows wherever her muse takes her to places sometimes dark, sometimes quirky, but always hopeful.
When Cyrex Corp, one of the foremost bioaugmentation companies in the world, sends Vax to assassinate Zai Lumero, Vax thinks it’ll be a simple, straightforward job. Zai is only a journalist, after all, and with his bioaugments, Vax has never botched a job before. But then the hit unexpectedly goes south, and before Vax can correct his mistake and finish Zai off for good, he discovers that Cyrex has turned on him, putting him in their crosshairs as well.
With no one else to turn to, he strikes a grudging partnership with Zai to help him expose Cyrex’s connection to a missing persons case and take the company down. Getting along with a justice crusader who hates Vax’s profession with a burning passion isn’t easy—though Vax finds himself drawn to Zai in a way he never expected.
As they race against time to unearth Cyrex’s secrets, Vax can’t shake the feeling that Zai is hiding something from him. And the closer he gets to uncovering the answers—of how he’s related to Zai’s investigation, and how Zai is connected to a past that Vax can’t remember—the more he suspects that finding out the truth might destroy him.