New Novel Explores A Digital Recreation Of Pittsburgh, Pre-Apocalypse

Jul 11, 2014

Credit Eric Fuentecilla / Penguin Books

There aren’t too many writers whose first attempt at a novel gets published- and even fewer have the movie right to their debut scooped up immediately by a major film company.

If Thomas Sweterlitsch's experience in literature has been anything but ordinary, that’s because his first novel, Tomorrow And Tomorrow, has been too.

The book tells the story of John Dominic Blaxton, an investigator living in the future who explores a digital recreation of Pittsburgh, in order to explore the city a decade after it was reduced to dust by a nuclear detonation.

Thomas Sweterlitsch, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and a Pittsburgh native, stopped by the South Side to discuss his novel on Essential Pittsburgh.

The book takes place in 2056, but the version of Pittsburgh that appears in the Archive, a machine that can digitally recreate the past, is from 2014. Sweterlitsch said he tried to be as faithful recreating the city as possible.

“I just find that very, very interesting when I’m reading novels, that sense of place. So the Pittsburgh scenes are, too, very specific details grounded. Stores you’ll recognize, things that, you know, if you've walked down certain streets in Shadyside, you’ll recognize.”

He also described his shock at learning that Sony Pictures was interested in acquiring the book’s film rights.

“My cellphone goes off, I see it’s my agent … and he said a studio had made an offer on the book and we had to decide what we were going to do with it in an hour. So during that hour the agent was going back and forth to different studios that were interested and eventually, I got a phone call saying Sony Pictures had won for the option. I was ecstatic, I didn't know exactly what it meant… but basically buying the option is essentially buying dibs to make the movie, it doesn't mean they're making the movie. Probably a low chance that they make the movie, but there is a screenwriter working on it.”