Guest post: Can our brains see the future? Cole Carver on VECTOR RISING

ScienceThrillers.com welcomes author Cole Carver to discuss the neurobiology behind his science fiction thriller VECTOR RISING. And he’s giving away a paperback copy! Scroll down to enter.


Vector Rising by Cole Carver. Science fiction thriller. (November 2017)

The present moment is a knife-edge, and someone’s discovered how to wield it.

Nathan Beckett sees everything just before it happens. While normal human eyesight predicts motion by a tenth of a second, Beckett’s ability is nearly thirtyfold. Now, a covert agency wants to turn him into a weapon. Beckett refuses until he learns his choice might risk the life of a mother he barely knows.

As the former foster child hones his gift, Beckett realizes some people aren’t satisfied with mere seconds of future-seeing. A rogue scientist is testing the limits of precognition and developing a neurogenetic virus that may put countless lives in danger. Beckett soon finds himself caught between a traumatic past and visions of increasingly deadly futures.

Vector Rising combines neurobiology with relentless action in the battle between fate and free will.

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The Future of Future-Seeing

Guest post by Cole Carver

Imagine your five senses are five people in a boat. The boat is being steered from below deck by a captain who can’t see what’s going on above. It’s not a great spot to be in, since the boat is currently tumbling down a river filled with jagged, boat-sinking rocks.

Each of the five senses—each “person”—is leaning over the edge of the boat and shouting back what they see, hear, smell, etc., so that the captain below can adjust their course. But because there’s a delay between seeing the danger and correcting the route, each person has to shout out not what’s happening now, but what’s about to happen.

“Turn right!” “Full speed!” “Stop!” Too slow, and the boat glances off a rock. The senses adjust, and start calling out what they see even further into the future.

This is what we experience every day as humans. The boat in this scenario is you.

Specifically, this is what happens with human vision. There’s a difference in the light that hits your eye and the vision you perceive. Your brain needs about a tenth of a second to process this sensory input. But we don’t have a tenth of a second to spare. We need to dodge the sabre-toothed tiger. We need to slam on the brakes on the freeway. We need to do these things immediately.

Our brains have evolved to imagine what the world will look like one-tenth of a second from now. They are the captains below deck, steering in response to a world that hasn’t yet come to pass. Evolution hasn’t just shaped our reflexes, it’s actually shaped how we see the world, and what we see is a one-tenth of a second into the future.

It turns out we can measure these reactions and future-seeing capabilities. Scientists like Dr. Mark Changizi have even shown how optical illusions are proof that our brains are constantly projecting where things will be, not where they are. The joke with optical illusions is that our brains end up guessing wrong.

Therein lies the challenge: we need to see a little bit of the future to make up for our sensory lag. And yet, the more we try to predict, the more inaccuracies we risk, and suddenly we end up turning too soon, and sinking the boat. But given enough predictability, and enough data from our senses, we could potentially “see” much, much further.

This is Nathan Beckett’s gift and his curse. In Vector Rising, we see the challenges that come with seeing several seconds ahead. Imagine losing fight after fight because you keep swinging too early. We also see Beckett’s success, as he learns to control his gift with the help of a shady government agency. The risk of seeing the wrong future is always there, but it’s nothing compared to the dangers Beckett faces when this neurogenetic science falls into the wrong hands.

Early readers of Vector Rising have been fascinated with the reality of future-seeing humans (the book also offers an exclusive interview with a neurobiologist in which these foundations are discussed). From the gift of precognition to the threat of deadly viruses, Vector Rising is a perfect read for thriller fans and science buffs alike.


About the Author:

Cole Carver is an award-winning writer of technothrillers that combine speculative technology with fast-paced action. Born in Seattle, Cole received his MFA in Creative Writing while working as a collegiate gymnast, a stunt double, and a halftime performer for the NBA. He now lives in Northern Nevada with his wife amidst the rattlesnakes and rabbitbrush. Learn more about Cole and his new novel, Vector Rising, at www.colecarver.com

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