|photo: Chuck Zovko
David Walton is the author of Quintessence and the Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel Terminal Mind. He lives near Philadelphia, Pa., with his wife, seven children and three hamsters. By day, he works on classified defense technology, which not even the hamsters are allowed to know about. Walton's fiction explores themes that skirt the edges of science and religion, such as human origins, the certainty of death and the nature of the soul. His newest novel is Superposition, just published by Pyr.
On your nightstand now:
Literally on the furniture next to my bed at this moment: The Widow's House by Daniel Abraham; The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu); Breach Zone by Myke Cole; Drift by Jon McGoran; The Lost World of Adam and Eve by John Walton.
Favorite book when you were a child:
"When you were a child" is a long time! Eventually it was J.R.R. Tolkien's The Return of the King. Before that, it was probably The High King by Lloyd Alexander, or maybe A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.
Your top five authors:
My first three have to be Orson Scott Card, Nancy Kress and David Brin. These are the authors I was devouring when I was first discovering science fiction as an active genre and trying my hand at writing. More recently, the authors whose books I'm most likely to buy, read quickly and press into other people's hands are Daniel Abraham, Robert Charles Wilson and Neal Stephenson. (Yeah, I know that's six. So shoot me.)
Book you've faked reading:
I honestly can't remember a time.
Book you're an evangelist for:
At the moment, the book I'm most recommending to others is Defenders by Will McIntosh, a fascinating SF novel that features humans, an alien race and an intelligent artificial race that humans create to fight the aliens. It follows the shifts of alliances and enmities as each tries to understand, and yet fears, the others.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson.
Book that changed your life:
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Really. I grew up thinking evolution was a ludicrous farce, and actually reading the original (as well as a number of follow-up books on the subject) turned things upside down for me for a while. (I discuss this experience and how it affected my views of religion and science quite a bit on my blog.)
Favorite line from a book:
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." --The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Which character you most relate to:
I pondered this one for a long time. The question seems to ask what character I think is most like me, and I had trouble thinking of one. Then it occurred to me that this is because I don't read fiction to find people like me. I read fiction to see through the eyes of people who are utterly unlike me, to experience things I would never experience on my own, and thus to understand life from many other perspectives.
In that vein, I'll go with the character Asher Lev, from the novel My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. Asher is not like me at all: he's a Hasidic Jew living in New York City, and an emotional firebrand driven by his passion for drawing and art, which throws him into intense conflict with his family, religion and culture. Asher is nothing like me in background, interests or personality, and yet I can't remember relating more strongly to any other character as I did to Asher Lev in this incredible book.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
I'd love to read Isaac Asimov's Foundation series again for the first time. I read those books when I was pretty young, and they were full of startling revelations that made shivers run up my spine. I'd love to go back to them without knowing the secrets.