The Hardest Part: Robert Creekmore on Afiri

North Carolina author Robert Creekmore‘s initially self-published his first novel Afiri through last year, but quickly withdrew it from commercial publication when he discovered that he could not make it continually available for free. After considering his options, in late February he elected to simply make the novel available as a PDF download from his website. With readers from North Carolina to Saudi Arabia, the move has paid off in more ways than one. Creekmore describes the novel as “polemical, narrative driven, mid-twentieth century science fiction” and it is written in a style “specifically geared toward young adults with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism”. The author is a veteran special needs teacher, who himself has Aspergers, and along with themes of social relationships and autism/neurotypical interaction the book presents a story of oppressive theocracies and segregation. After short introductory chapters dealing with death and hospital bills, young and soon-to-be-homeless Aksel Lauht sets off for the Linville Gorge Wilderness to make it on his own. Before long, however, he stumbles into a star-spanning narrative of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Here, Creekmore writes about developing the greater science fictional allegory for his thoughts on our own peculiar species.


Afiri by Robert Creekmore; cover design by Juliana Creekmore


By Robert Creekmore:

“The hardest part” wasn’t writing, rather, it is being “me” in a tidal pool of “yous”. First off, there is certainly nothing wrong with being a “you”, rather I’d deem it desirable. The “yous” have an amazing ability: they can read the minds of other “yous”. Then there is “I”. “I” am abnormal, a closed looped mind in a world of clairvoyants. “I” am autistic and you’re probably not. My front row ticket to the Homo-Sapien show has taught me a great many things about the “yous”. The problem is, I have a tendency to be rather intense and talk at people about my ideas, which can give one an air of lunacy.

I thought, “How could I seem less crazy but still put my interpretation of the world out there?” The simple solution was to write my ideas down. Plenty of insane people are considered venerable authors. Words take on a gentler pace when read by silent lips, yet the message comes through without the distraction of my peculiar mannerisms. I decided to write an allegory about the interaction of the “I”s and “Yous” ala mid-twentieth century polemic science fiction. When the novel was complete I realized that it had gone far beyond the interplay of the Neurotypical (Normal People) and Autistic, but rather it painted a concise picture of the “us” — humans.

In Afiri, I deconstruct our world and start over from the beginning. At this inception, Earth sits lifeless, some 3.8 billion years ago. 1,040 light years away, a planet with two distinct people go to war. Biological weaponry wipes out all life, friend nor foe survives, though some hold on long enough to place themselves into cryo-suspension. A last ditch effort was employed to seed another world with the building blocks of life commingled amongst the disease so that they may develop intertwined. All life is looked over by Afiri, a sentient A.I. tasked with turning the entire Earth into a laboratory of evolution so it may generate the cure. When Aksel discovers Afiri’s substation he is confronted with the narrative of their war. Aksel has a choice: to stay on Earth or leave his life behind to become the antidote.

Along with my mind’s skewed perspective of cultural constructs comes a disconnect when concluding upon what is valuable. I have decided that Afiri will be available for free as a PDF on my website. Why? I’d rather have a voice than money. This is not a promotion, the PDF version of my first novel will remain free as long as I’m alive. My goal has always been to place this work into the hands of as many young adults as possible. To do so with moral legitimacy I feel that taking payment for the message would be hypocritical. I leave you with this: What do you get when an author has no hands in his pockets? The truth.



Afiri was written in a hyperlexic narrative that speaks directly to the reader through guided allegory, applying a platform that queues in and explains social relationships as well as subtext. Afiri employs the use of two fictional cultures, the smaller Illuvian tribe, represents the autistic mind and larger Zailliarian population the neurotypical world. Each demonstrates the flaws of neuro-segregation at its worst, illustrating that, despite our differences, we still need one another. If the author had to sum up Afiri with one sentence it would be, “This is the book I wish someone had written for me when I was a teenager.”

Robert Creekmore is the author of Afiri. His upcoming horror novel is called Humanzee. He is a former Autism Specialist, tree hugger, and unabashed polemic.

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One Response to The Hardest Part: Robert Creekmore on Afiri

  1. Pingback: April newsletter: SFWA Southeast reading series kicks off April 24; lots of award news including Hugo, Tiptree, Gemmell, and Wellman updates; and! in May: Mary Robinette Kowal and Marie Brennan visit Quail Ridge Books | Bull Spec

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