Local author’s new book explores empathy through technology

Ryan Campbell’s latest novel, “Mourning Dove” uses science fiction elements to convey the importance of understanding others’ perspectives

More stories from Kaitlyn Zenner


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Ryan Campbell, a local author, presents his novel at his book launch event at Dotter’s Bookstore

Ryan Campbell’s writing career came alive in 2012 when he graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in linguistics and traveled to Brazil in pursuit of a job teaching Spanish and English to Portuguese speakers.

Upon arrival, Campbell discovered the position no longer existed. Thus, he said, he had ample time to drink large quantities of caffeinated Brazilian coffee and pursue his passion for writing.

In the time since his Brazilian excursion, Campbell has written three novels, two of which are part of an impending trilogy called “EMPATHY.” Campbell was able to display and discuss important aspects and themes of his latest novel, “Mourning Dove” at Dotters bookstore in Eau Claire this past Saturday at his book launch event.

The first book in the series is “Imminent Dawn,” which Campbell said is a book that follows four main characters and their relationship with an internet-access brain implant.

This implant advances the characters’ ability to communicate with one another through wireless networks, though severe complications eventually ensue. The recently released second book in the series, “Mourning Dove,” builds off this foundation.

“So, in ‘Imminent Dawn’ we follow four prospective characters during the first round of trials for the empathy internet access implant,” Campbell said. “Then in ‘Mourning Dove,’ we see how everyone is trying to pick up and put back together the pieces that they left from book one.”

This science fiction novel displays parallels to the Netflix series “Black Mirror” along with “Game of Thrones,” Campbell said.

Present at the Dotters Books event, Ryan Campbell’s wife, Lacey Campbell, discussed her appreciation of the multiple elements involved in the books in the “EMPATHY” series, though she is not necessarily the biggest science fiction fan.

“I would say I am not a science fiction person personally myself at all, but what kind of caught me on the ‘EMPATHY’ series is the fact that it’s a little more than just science fiction,” Lacey Campbell said. “There’s some political entry to it as well. There’s some slight romance, and again, as a person who does not really read science fiction, I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking for the next books in the series.”

Ryan, who said he is excitement for having the opportunity to go on this book tour and meet more members in the community, encourages any aspiring young writers or interested community members to get in touch with him through email.  

Ryan’s prevailing hope is that readers will come to understand the importance of empathy through reading his latest novel.

“There is very much a reason why I called the book series “EMPATHY,” and that’s because that is really what the technology is all about,” Ryan said. “By finding ways to cut into the experiences of characters whose background might be very similar to or not similar at all to our own, we are very much in the position to understand different perspectives and different experiences. If that is something I can introduce people through my writing, that’s all I could ever ask for.”

Zenner can be reached at [email protected].