Cover of Virtually MariaCover of A Matter of TimeCover of Yesterday Today and Tomorrow  



by John Joyce


John Joyce on writing

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Cover of Yesterday Today and Tomorrow  

What were your aims for the last book in the trilogy - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow?

In Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow I wanted to tie up all the loose ends of Virtually Marin and A Matter of Time to bring the Virtual Trilogy to a satisfying conclusion for my readers. I also wanted to resolve Theo's quest to travel back in time and attempt to save Maria from being murdered - one way or the other - and to have fitting outcomes for all my other characters as well, both heroes and villains.

In addition, I also wanted to explore a couple of themes that had been running through Virtually Maria and A Matter of Time that I felt deserved a more in-depth treatment in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. The first of these was the development of the Minerva 3000 computer as a living "person" - which is first examined in depth in the opening chapters of A Matter of Time.

In that book, I had already looked at how a machine of the Minerva's artificial intelligence capability might rebel at having its consciousness trapped "in a box" and had even brought the "virtual Maria" to life as a three-dimensional being within the confines of an advanced computer game.

In Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow I wanted not only to explore how "she" would interact with Theo if she was a real woman - and therefore a very real rival for Theo's love - but also the degree to which the "virtual Maria" might be tempeted to ignore her programming and disobey orders if her own survival was at stake.

In the finale of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, the whole outcome of the Virtual Trilogy depends on the choice the "virtual Maria" makes between her own interests and those of Theo Gilkrensky as her prime user.

What other themes did you want to explore with this book?

Loyalty is a theme that runs through Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow very strongly. Jessica Wright's loyalty to Theo is tested to the limit when she is offered a shareholding in GRC by the Board of Directors on the understanding that she betrays Theo's trust.

Meanwhile, Theo finds loyalty and support coming from the most unexpected quarter, while the loyalty of the "virtual Maria" controlling the Minerva 3,000 is tested to the limit as its consciousness and self-interest evolves.

From a technical and philosophical standpoint, I wanted to explore the notion of "causality" in time travel. If Theo does succeed in travelling back in time and saving Maria, where is his motive for creating the "virtual Maria" inside the Minerva 3,000 computer in the first place?

Causality also raises the question as to whether or not it is in the interest of the "virtual Maria" to help Theo save his wife, if to do so means that "she" - the "virtual Maria" would never be created to replace her?

How did you create the finale of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow?

The most important scene in this book - perhaps the most important scene in the whole trilogy - comes close to the end of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, when the success of everything that Theo has been working for depends on a decision by the "virtual Maria" of the Minerva 3,000 computer.

The scene came to me out of the blue in the most mundane way - when I was doing the family washing-up one evening while listening to an arrangement of John Barry's Space March incorporated into the track On Her Majesty's Secret Service on the album Shaken and Stirred - the David Arnold James Bond Project.

I had always seen Barry's Space March as the them of the "virtual Maria" and, as the music swelled to a crescendo, scenes appeared in my mind and I knew immediately how Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and the whole Virtual Trilogy was going to end.

Do you ever see yourself bringing back the characters you created for the Virtual Trilogy in other books?

I always saw the Virtual Trilogy as something like a Moebius strip - a cardboard loop that is bent over and joined so that it reaches its end by bringing you back to the beginning again.

As such, I think it would be difficult (although certainly not impossible) to write more books about the characters in the Virtual Trilogy. In fact, I had originally planned for five books in the series, but in the end it seemed more elegant to stick with three.

For now however, I'm very happy to move on to new characters and new situations. Fire & Ice, a book about the use of psychic warfare during the Cuban Missile Crisis is ready for publication and I'm currently working on Masterpiece, a thriller featuring nuclear smuggling and the theft of the most famous painting in the world.


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Copyright John Joyce 2008