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The Big Thrill Discusses SHORTCUT with Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Book Cover Image: SHORTCUTA mathematical genius. A formula that speeds up space travel called SHORTCUT. His loving wife. When Laura Maxx disappears after an attack that leaves Jason Maxx in the hospital, his only goal is to find her and bring her back. Then he gets a message: Laura is alive. Somewhere in space. To get her back, he’ll do whatever it takes—even taking on government agents who might try to stop him. Racing against the clock to perfect the formula and the system that relies on it and find a suitable craft to take him out there, Jason finds he needs more than math to succeed this time.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bestselling author and Hugo-nominated editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt recently spent time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest science thriller, SHORTCUT.

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

Well, it was something so different from anything I’d done but all the research and real science excited me, plus the chance to show math on this scale in a book. And I love space travel, always have. I hoped we could do something that encourage an interest in stem on a wider basis as well as kept people entertained. It’s also about private space travel with that as a core element which we worked on even before Space X started sending up rockets once a month. I think that’s new and exciting.

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

Well, being invited in to a process that had already started. Hunt had the first act fairly well synopsized and part of Act Two. We worked out the rest of Act Two together, and I wrote Act Three mostly on my own.

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

Hunt had created a guy who was so perfect and had everything that I just couldn’t relate. But my job was to bring him to life and make him relatable, so I focused on ways to show insecurities and struggles, even areas of weakness and faults that would make him seem more human and relatable. I also selectively left out some of the deep background Hunt had written in order to allow Jason Maxx to still be an every man, not some miraculous genius at everything. From reader responses, I think I got it right.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” plays a key role so yeah, that was one. “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas also was in it but we replaced that for consistency. So that was on my mind. I also listened to soundtracks for adventure films a lot.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

An interest in how real math informs the world and how much more important it is than our every day uses. Math can do so many things, and it’s easy to dismiss it because some of us are not good at. But it’s really fascinating when you start to get a glimpse of all the possibilities and the many questions math can solve you’d never think of.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

A new thriller about an American PI in the Philippines trying to solve his father’s murder while reconnecting with the family and friends he left behind nineteen years before. It’s the start of my new Will Dunlop series and already has publisher interest. Based in a place where my fiancee and kids live and I visit often.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is a #1 bestselling author and Hugo-nominated editor. As an author, his novels include the Saga of Davi Rhii space opera series, the John Simon Thrillers, and SHORTCUT, which is his seventh published novel of 11 written. As an editor, he has edited or co-edited 22 anthologies, including official entries in Predator, and Aliens Vs. Predators, Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger, and Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International series. His most recent anthology is Robots Through the Ages, co-edited with SFWA Grandmaster Robert Silverberg. He’s also written dozens of short fiction pieces including official tie-ins to The X-Files, Predator, Aliens Vs. Predators, Joe Ledger, Monster Hunter International, and Decipher’s Wars. He lives in Ottawa, KS with his two dogs, and two cats.

To learn more about the author, please visit his website.

SHORTCUT with Bryan Thomas Schmidt