Interviews — 5 Min Read

Florin Stanciu’s Omnium

Science fiction has always kept one eye towards the future. Flying machines, supercomputers, space exploration, and others have been subjects of interest. The speculative literature has shown us what the future of us, humans, could become. On the one hand, a humanist future, based on human freedoms and the benefits of science, but also a grim future, where inequalities, monopolization of technologies and natural catastrophes outline a dystopian, post-apocalyptic scenario. Somehow, Omnium sits on the edge: it presents a post-apocalyptic scenario, but humanity’s hope and instinct for survival ultimately conquers all obstacles. Earth is destroyed by an unknown object, but mankind receives a second chance in another galaxy. I wanted to dive deeper into this world of hard science fiction, dealing with topics of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, quantum physics, astronomy. I sat down and talked with the scientist and geneticist Florin Stanciu about the book and about how he sees the near future.

Florin Stancius, thank you for joining. Tell us, how did the novel Omnium start?

It all started with the impulse to write, the impetus I had had since adolescence, lost and found back to maturity. It’s nice to go through the imaginative projections of other authors, but it was not enough for me. By reading fiction, you are actually importing into your mind another world, which has been interesting and beautiful for a while, then I felt the need to develop my own world. Hundreds of parallel universes are born and die in the days of reverie of people with vivid imagination. Some resist over time, others do not. Then it seems like you’re getting drunk to keep these worlds just for you and you’re starting to think about how to make a universe hold out and be discovered by others. That is why I think that narrative and writing are the most handy tools for transferring thoughts in a form as coherent as possible. Omnium has started from the strange sensation that a block of stone gives you, from which you start to hear something. The rest, as they say, is a story as old as time…

What brought you close to SF? Do you have a favorite book? What book did you mark in childhood?

SF is the bridge between science and fantasy. Where science stops, because of the limits imposed by its own laws, it can be extended to the imaginary level. All visionary scientists thought at least once in science fiction. Because SF is nothing more than an instrument of imagination, a projection of the future, or an alternative reality. I have several favourite books, each for something. If I want to choose one of the most (and most preferred), I would go to the Dune Emperor of the Dune Series by Frank Herbert.

Better than Rajaniemi, on Goodreads. Are you interested, enjoy such comparisons? Or is every writer important?

Literature is based on a great deal of subjectivism. This is the way it is for one or more readers. I do not think I’m better than Rajaniemi. From a purely mercantile perspective my book did not cross Romania’s borders, while Rajaniemi’s are everywhere. So who’s better? I would rather say that each writer is unique. His texts reflect his life experience, which is otherwise unique. On Goodreads or other places I enjoy the sincere views from people I do not know. What I noticed from the feedback received from the readers is that there are a few people who liked Omnium so and so … extremes dominate, they either love Omnium or I hate it.

In the novel, Axxe discovers himself and humanity does the same. Did you suffer this by writing the book?

Indeed, the writing of the first book of fiction had such an effect. When you start with a novel, you have to educate your mind so that it can cope with ups and downs in terms of optimism, pessimism, and last but not least pragmatism. It is not enough to have a good idea if you do not materialize it, and then when you come to materialize it, after many constraints and constraints, find out how different it is from the moment of the first thought. If it had been for me, Omnium would not have been finalized until today, more than a year after its publication.

“In that euphoric state, I wanted to touch it. That woman’s body was drawing me through the roundness of its forms. A strange sense of possession was still going on. I knew somewhere beneath the black latex gloss hid a velvety skin of a beautiful woman. I was fond of her. The lure was mine. And mine alone. Always. I loved her. It was the most beautiful thing. And I was very sure of myself when I thought about it. I put my fingers in my palm. He responded, pausing for a moment to caress my face. Then he again urged me to swim to the light.”

– quoted from Omnium, by Florin Stanciu

What does a day look like in Florin Stanciu’s life? Do you have writing habits?

Monotonous. I share my time between work and a special project named Caesar, whose draft version I worked for about 9 months (well, his mother more than me). Now I’m “struggling” with the final version, which I estimate will take at least 18 years if not all my life. I do not have writing habits, because I do not the time I have doesn’t allow for it. I wish I could write in the morning when I was drinking my coffee.

You also wrote under the pseudonym Irving T. Creve. Does this have any meaning?

ITC is one of Stanislaw Lem’s characters in the SF-philosophical novel GOLEM XIV. This novel made me return to SF literature after a considerable break. It is incredible how a story written in the 1980s is more current nowadays than it was in its time, in the context of the development of artificial intelligence. I preferred anonymity because I did not know how people would react after reading my rows. In addition, with a Western name like ITC, I was also dropping the preconceptions of some readers from Romania, who consider that Romanian authors are weaker than the foreign ones.

How do you see the future, Florin? In 10-20 years?

In the 10-20 years? … In the pessimistic version, we will continue to ignore our impact on the environment and then things will go wrong. In the optimistic version, our minds will become woke and we will take some measures that will not have strong effects anyway. Natural selection will come into play, and after a while, we will flourish again. In the longer term, the future will show that in Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon novel. Whoever has money will have access to technology and technology will bring immortality.

“Anyway, I had nothing else to lose. What I had most priceless, I’d already lost. Earth.”

– quoted from Omnium, by Florin Stanciu

Why did you choose genetics?

I went from mutants -> mutation -> gene -> genetics. Mutants were found in literature, animation, and the movies we consume. Curiosity made me want to understand what a mutation is and that’s how I came to learn about genetics. In general school, it seemed fascinating to me to manipulate/model the violin. And life was the most complex thing I had access to. In this context, genetics gave me the answers I needed. The books of Constantin Maximilian were also helpful, of which one with the suggestive title “A Geneticist Looks to the World”. Maximilian was a geneticist with a major contribution to bioethics in Romania. In his books he often talked about the impact of genetics on society, the long-term consequences of genetic engineering, strange genetic diseases, eugenics, and so on … in short, he inspired me with the following idea: “Knowledge is power”.

Physical laws offered me this way. Including you, you were aware of the ability of self-organisation and self-regulation of matter. Complex things are born without a central structure to coordinate everything but just the constituent elements come to interact with each other until they reach a certain organisational balance. The ants taken separately are useless, but in the group, they will always rebuild the same anthills.

– quoted from Omnium, by Florin Stanciu

How do you reconcile your profession with SF?

They get along, and then not so much. Both compete for my time and attention. I’m trying to find a balance. Sometimes I manage it, sometimes not so well.

Any future writing plans?

I remain faithful to the novel. When I write I like to stretch the story and I feel comfortable when I can make that on several pages. I have a project I work on from time to time. I started it right after Omnium was finished. It is unrelated to it, although in this new novel, I’ll try to put into better practice and somewhat differently what I’ve learned by writing Omnium. It will also be a hard-core SF with space opera, IA, and xeno-biology. It will be the way I imagine an alien world.

What SF books do you recommend to a young person who wants to discover literature?

I would recommend starting with something soft like Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, then going to something like The End of Childhood by Arthur C. Clarke, and finally, why not, something hard like The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (if they’re attracted by technology) or City of the Embassy of China Miéville (if they’re attracted to language and communication).

Tell us a little about the platform

On I tested my Python/Django programming muscles. At the basis of this is an interesting idea – an aggregator of books published in Romania, rated with an extra or minus point as an alternative to the five-star voting system. When I created this website, I thought there were others like me – readers, writers, or publishers who’d want to promote books published in our country and also find out what books are popular, according to a simpler “I liked”, “I did not like” or “I do not know about it” algorithm. I was wrong, the internet is now stolen by social networking giants. There are few people who want to put in the time for niche websites like

Do you want me to ask you something that I haven’t?

Of course. What is the answer to the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything?

Thank you again, Florin Stanciu for your time and insights.

Florin Stanciu is a geneticist and author. He made his debut in 2013 with short prose in the 70th issue of the Nautilus science fiction online magazine (with the story “Trophonius Personal Genomics”) and on paper, one year later, in the 2015 Anticipation Almanac (with the story “Live bullets”).

Florin Stanciu has also published stories, book reviews, and articles in Fantastica, the SF Gazzete and and has appeared with the story “Fedya” in the collective volume Exit. Stories from beyond. Other details about his publishing activity can be found on his personal blog –

An abridged version of the interview with Florin Stanciu appeared in the Today Software Magazine.

Discover more Romanian writers, here.