Hello Zoltan, A hearty and a very warm welcome on board for a small journey with your fans and readers to learn a bit more about you.
Hello Jaideep, Thanks so much for doing this interview. I appreciate it, and I look forward to following your excellent blog from now on. Just for your readers to know, my name is Zoltan Istvan. I'm a former National Geographic Channel journalist and the author of the novel The Transhumanist Wager. My book is a recent #1 bestseller in Philosophy and #1 bestseller in Science-Fiction Visionary on Amazon. My novel is about the future, human enhancement, and one man who will do anything to overcome death using science. You can find my novel on Amazon, both in ebook form and a paperback version. The novel's website is: www.transhumanistwager.com and my journalism website is: www.istvanmedia.com
Please share some of the best memories of your childhood
I have many memories as a child going camping with my mother and father. My father would always take dirt motorcycles, and during the day we would go exploring the terrain that was around us. It was very adventurous. I began racing motorcycles when I was 5 years old.
About your education
I have a college degree in Philosophy and Religion from Columbia University in New York City.
What career did you plan during your education days
I didn't really plan a career in the traditional sense. I thought I would write books, but I did not pursue that as a career. It was pursued as a natural consequence to how I felt about life.
What is your biggest source of inspiration in life
I must say books remain the largest inspiration in my life. I feel they have also been the largest influences in my life. Everything from Herman Hesse's Siddhartha to Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead to Thoreau's Walden.
What hurts you most in this world
It hurts me how closed-minded people are. I feel like many people refuse to see what's in front of them just because it's often inconvenient to see the truth. People grow used to being lazy, and that holds them back from reaching their best selves and seeing the world objectively.
My biggest challenge is overcoming my own mortality via science. And I'm still in the middle of the battle. I'm hoping in 20-30 years I will be able to overcome death through science and technology. I wrote my novel "The Transhumanist Wager" just for that battle--to convince people that we must all work together to overcome our mortality.
If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?
I think I would like to be Einstein. And I would want to be him on the day he discovered his special theory of relativity. That would an amazing experience--to know you have made a major breakthrough in human thought.
What is your favorite genre and why?
I like philosophical fiction. I like books that make me think and discover new ideas.
What is the purpose of your writing?
Which of your work published so far?
My novel "The Transhumanist Wager" has now been out for a few months and doing well. I have also published dozens of articles for places like The New York Times Syndicate, National Geographic.com, Outside, etc.
What are your forthcoming writings?
Currently, I'm about to begin a sequel to my latest novel. I will also continue working on a nonfiction work about my philosophy: Teleological Egocentric Functionalism, which makes up the majority of the ideas in The Transhumanist Wager.
What are your future plans?
I am trying to organize activist groups based on many of the transhuman ideas set in my novel. And also to join with many of the futurist communities already out there.
What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
#1. Substance. A book must mean something important. #2. Reason. A book must be logical. #3. Clarity. A book must be clear and understandable. #4. Originality. A book should attempt to produce something new in the world. #5. I know you only asked for four top things, but I want to point out that I did not mention: entertainment. I do not specifically write for people's entertainment. I write for them to learn something.
Your dream destination on Earth?
Antarctica. I have been to all the other six continents, but not Antarctica yet.
Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
I was born in Los Angeles, California. I have visited over 100 countries, many as a journalist for the National Geographic Channel. I thought Vanuatu with its many indigenous tribes was the most interesting. New Zealand was the most beautiful. Argentina was the most fun--great red wine and people. Oman was the most bizarre with its camels and rich culture. And Papua New Guinea (trekking in the highlands) was the most dangerous; there are many snakes and bandits.