Author Feature: ‘Inventa’ by Ben Curtis

Ben Curtis is a new author whose first science fiction novel Inventa will be out this summer.

It felt as though every cell of her body was being simultaneously pierced by hot, barbed needles. Her fingers and toes were burning. Her back attempted to spasm, but was held in check by the cramping of her stomach. She tried to scream, but all that came was high pitched screech, followed by uncontrollable coughing as her lungs filled with air for the first time in nearly four centuries. The primal scream she sought came soon after, as her body twitched and contorted as though being electrocuted.
It wasn’t her first time, of course, dealing with the aftermath of hypersleep. She wasn’t former military, unlike most of the bridge crew, but she had captained multiple vessels along numerous routes for nearly two decades before being tapped as captain of Inventa.
Her father had started a modest but successful freight company based out of one of the minor stations orbiting Mars. Any time he would allow it, she would come along and pester everyone she could come across, asking questions about everything from substations and engine radiation to why the grates in the mess hall were big enough to let forks fall through. Most ignored her, or gave her a mix of sighs and shrugs, but occasionally a kind technician or engineer would humor her inquisitive nature.
She had always been entranced by space, and space travel. The only thing that she didn’t like, the only thing that she hated, was waking up from hypersleep.
After what seemed like an eternity, her muscles began to relax, and she curled up into the closest thing she could to the fetal position inside the hypersleep chamber. The queasiness started to set in, and it felt as though she were spinning inside her mind.
As the ringing in her ears began to subside, she began to hear a voice. Muted at first, after a few loops of the program, she was able to recognize the unnecessarily upbeat voice of the ship’s V.I. program.
“Captain Muri, you have just awoken from hypersleep. Remain calm. You are aboard the Inventa. The year is 3043. You have arrived in Kepler-452. Once you are able, please acknowledge this message by saying ‘Acknowledge.’ … Captain Muri, you have just awoken …”
“God … God damn it, I’ve shit myself.” Muri’s voice seemed foreign to her. Her throat felt like it was being rubbed down with sandpaper.
“I’m sorry, I did not recognize that. Please acknowledge this message by …”
“Acknowledge!” The scream dislodged some stubborn phlegm that rocketed out onto the digital display above her. The sight of the loogy being backlit by the screen mixed with the scent of her soiled jumpsuit sent her into dry heaves.

A Bite of... Ben Curtis
(Q1) What is your biggest inspiration as a writer?

I always struggle to answer this question. As someone who has dabbled in a handful of different genres, short stories, reviews, critiques and the like, it always changes. If we’re getting down to brass tacks, to the constant, I’d have to say corporations and unions. About four years ago, I was working for a large grocery retailer. I had five different managers, at different store levels, along with the everpresent corporate overlords. We were numbers. Cogs. I don’t ever want to go back to that, and it drives me to write.

(Q2) Which three famous authors (living or not) would you most want to invite to a dinner party?

Samuel Clemens. It might be cliché, but I mean, Mark Twain is THE American author to much of the world, and for good reason. However, I’m inviting SPECIFICALLY Samuel Clemens. Before the fame and bravado, before he became Mark Twain. Preferably he’d be laughably drunk. Then, perhaps, just maybe, there can be the illusion of us being compeers. Alongside Sam would be Christopher Moore, my favorite author. He is always my go-to when someone asks me for a recommendation, and I consider ‘Fool’ and ‘Lamb’ as must reads for everyone. Stephenie Me – stay with me, come back – Stephenie Meyer would also be there. Her success cannot be ignored, and people are still riding the wave of young adult fantasy romance she created. I’d love to get those three people around a table, booze flowing, and just quietly sit there with a notepad.

(Q3) You are stranded on a desert island with a working dvd player and a boxed set of the complete series of which sci-fi series? 

Mystery Science Theater 3000, the original ten seasons. This one was simple, at least for me. Amazing wit, great humor, and a wonderfully over-the-top premise that is truly relatable to me. I was, Hell, I still am THAT GUY. The one who sits in nearly empty theaters at 11am watching notably bad movies, cracking jokes to his friends while deriving great pleasure from the failure of others. I even loved the movie, which I believe solidifies my position as ‘Super Fan Boy’ quite nicely. As far as picking only one episode, wow, I mean, how? How can you just pick one? There are several true classics. I’ve actually been sitting here, staring at my keyboard, for a solid ten minutes, weighing the pros and cons of episode after episode, trying to figure out what I would consider the definitive episode. Ready for the cop-out? There’s two. I know, I know it’s cheating, but come on, there are ten seasons to consider. Both ‘Final Sacrifice’ and ‘Space Mutiny’ are brilliant, and after much internal debate, I feel represent the best of the series. You can watch them, for free, on YouTube, right now. Go. Seriously. Go watch. Right now. This interview will still be here when you’re done. You’re welcome.

About Ben...

In the arid deserts of western Colorado, a man sits in front of a keyboard. A failed comedian, unaccomplished writer, and undistinguished film and music critic, he struggled to adequately describe himself well enough to satisfy the basics of a biography. Perhaps it was nerves. Perhaps it was humility. Perhaps he was distracted by the rugged, yet classically handsome face being reflected by the dimly lit monitor before him. He did have an amazing chin.

You can find Ben on Twitter where you can follow his random ramblings about life the universe and everything!

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