BOOK CORNER: Apocalypse, artificial intelligence collide in new sci-fi adventure

By Marissa Wells

Contributing Writer

Following an apocalypse, Maria Ramos finds herself and six other people on a mysterious planet. The humans soon learn that their minds have been uploaded as digital consciousness.

Along with an artificial intelligence specimen named Hubert, they have escaped Earth in an experimental spacecraft during an extinction event. Maria is faced with the ultimate task of saving the human race, but she isn’t really alive. Will she be able to save humanity?

Find out in “Castle of Sand” by Steve Bates. The new science fiction novel raises the important question of what it means to be human.

“With the rapid advance of technology we might soon reach a convergence between humans and machines,” Bates said. “We need to think about how this could change us, for better or worse.”

“Castle of Sand” was inspired by the author’s recognition of the fragility of civilization and the desire to explore the complexity of human nature.

“The essence of human nature dictates that we can be our own best friends or worst enemies,” Bates said. “I believe that any of us can contribute to making our country and our world a better place.”

“Castle of Sand” will be enjoyed by fans of science fiction and readers who simply enjoy a good story. It’s the author’s hope that Maria’s journey resonates with readers.

“Maria, a soccer mom from Columbia, Maryland, who could be any of us, gets caught up in something bigger than herself. … But somehow Maria finds a spark within her that drives her to help keep humanity — or something like it — moving forward,” Bates said. “I believe that we all have a spark inside us that could drive us to accomplish heroic deeds if need be.”

Before turning to fiction, he was a reporter and editor for the Washington Post and other newspapers, magazines and the web. 

“I always loved reading science fiction,” Bates said. “As I got further along in my news career, I got that itch to tell stories in a more provacative way.”

In addition to being an author Bates is a passionate gardener and he volunteers at a local community organization. He is based in Ashburn, Virginia. 

For more information about the author and his work, visit

“Castle of Sand” will be available July 10 for $29.95 via Amazon and Sunstone Press. 

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