Human Interest
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Sedona resident Tony Taylor recently won the Arizona Book of the Year Grand Prize, put on through the Arizona Literary Contest, for his novel “The Darkest Side of Saturn.”

The book was chosen as the grand prize winner after taking first in the same contest in the Published Fiction category, then taking top honors up against the Short Story and Unpublished Fiction categories.


Taylor was also a finalist in two other contests: The National Indie Excellence Award [science fiction], and The 2015 USA Best Book Award [science fiction] for the same book.

“I was stunned when I realized I won,” Taylor said of his accomplishment. Around 1,500 stories were entered into the contest this year. The contest was for all types of fiction, not just science fiction.

Taylor said he was in such a state of shock after winning first prize in his category, it didn’t occur to him that by the time the runner up to the grand prize was announced — and his name had yet to be called — that he had won through the process of elimination.

The origin of “The Darkest Side of Saturn” can be traced back more than 30 years ago, when Taylor was involved in the first mission to see the side of Saturn opposite the sun. The phrase “The dark side of Saturn” stuck with him and he began formulating the plot and characters. He only began writing the book some two years ago, however, as he decided he needed to do something with the long-standing idea.

The novel is set in a parallel universe that spans from the 1960s to the 23rd century. In it, an asteroid is spotted in the outer solar system and it is hurtling toward Earth. The 3-kilometer-wide hunk of rock is big enough to wipe out civilization, and the protagonists are left to argue how and even if they should break the news to the rest of humanity.

On top of that world disaster, Taylor said he peppered in controversial subjects like religion and politics, a healthy amount of sex and ballet to round it all out.

The world Taylor builds is one similar to the real world. In it, many events are renamed or only slightly altered, further lending to the realism of the book. For instance, the Voyager mission still exists, but in Taylor’s world it is known as project Nomad. Taylor said that the book is nearly half true events that suit the story’s messages.

To read the full story, see the Wednesday, Nov. 25, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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