Blog Archives

Looking for Answers

Nina Munteanu
Nina Munteanu Author Interview

A Diary in the Age of Water follows the climate-induced journey of Earth through four generations of women with a unique relationship to water. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?

It started with one of my short stories: “The Way of Water”. I’d been asked by my publisher in Rome (Mincione Edizioni) to write a speculative socio-political short story about the environment—water, particularly. I wanted something ironic, so I chose water scarcity in Canada, a nation rich in water. The story was about young Hilde—the daughter of the diarist in the novel—who was dying of thirst in Toronto. This is a Toronto under the control of the international giant water utility CanadaCorp—with powers to arrest and detain anyone. A world in which China owns America and America, in turn, owns Canada. I realized that I needed a larger story: on how Canada became this water-scarce nation as indentured state; more on Hilde’s mysterious limnologist mother, Lynna (the diarist in the novel); and more on what happens next (explored through Kyo and her strange world of the future).

Kyo is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind the character’s development?

Kyo starts and ends the story in the sacred boreal forest of the far future. she’s a blue-skinned multi-armed human being—essentially a water-being—looking for answers why the world is the way it currently is due to climate change and other things humanity has caused. She frames the gritty diary part of the story. Kyo represents the future. She’s also a young girl, and in some ways, her part of the story is a coming of age, of self-discovery and growing maturity. Given her metaphoric connection to water, the planet and a new humanity of sorts, Kyo’s character serves as a metaphor for humanity and its own coming of age.

The novel expertly captures a post-climate changed world and the changes it effects on society. What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?

A Diary in the Age of Water is a cautionary dystopian tale that is based on real events and precedents. This is partly why I wrote some of the book as a diary. The diarist—Lynna—is a limnologist who sees what is going on but because she is right in the middle of it, she lacks the perspective to recognize the gravity of some of the things she is witnessing and doing herself. She exercises a myopic protectionism that backfires on her time and time again. Perhaps the main theme of this book is one of perspective and how that perspective can influence actions and reactions in surprising ways. Information and knowledge isn’t enough—as Lynna demonstrates. Context and understanding, fueled by compassion and kindness must accompany it.

Ultimately, the book carries themes of hope and forgiveness—of ourselves and each other—and compassion for all things, starting with water. Each character carries an aspect of that theme, from the diarist’s activist mother, to the diarist’s own cynical protectionism, her spiritual anarchist daughter, and lastly the innocent storm of the last generation.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently researching and working on the sequel to “A Diary in the Age of Water”—a thriller about four lost and homeless people who find their way when a phenomenon brings them together through a common goal to free the Earth from the manacles of human greed. The story takes place throughout Canada—from Halifax to Vancouver and the Arctic. It takes place mostly during the 2050s, and features a few ghosts, the Halifax 1917 Explosion, experimentation on humans, espionage, murder, and—of course—a plague. I’m calling it my COVID19 novel…

Author Links: GoodReads |Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Website

Centuries from now, in a post-climate change dying boreal forest of what used to be northern Canada, Kyo, a young acolyte called to service in the Exodus, discovers a diary that may provide her with the answers to her yearning for Earth’s past–to the Age of Water, when the “Water Twins” destroyed humanity in hatred–events that have plagued her nightly in dreams. Looking for answers to this holocaust–and disturbed by her macabre longing for connection to the Water Twins–Kyo is led to the diary of a limnologist from the time just prior to the destruction. This gritty memoir describes a near-future Toronto in the grips of severe water scarcity during a time when China owns the USA and the USA owns Canada. The diary spans a twenty-year period in the mid-twenty-first century of 33-year-old Lynna, a single mother who works in Toronto for CanadaCorp, an international utility that controls everything about water, and who witnesses disturbing events that she doesn’t realize will soon lead to humanity’s demise. A DIARY IN THE AGE OF WATER follows the climate-induced journey of Earth and humanity through four generations of women, each with a unique relationship to water. The novel explores identify and our concept of what is “normal”–as a nation and an individual–in a world that is rapidly and incomprehensibly changing.

A Dystopian Earth

Blair Wylie Author Interview

Master Defiance follows the survivors of a post-apocalyptic earth who must defend themselves against invading aliens. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

I wanted to suggest that human beings can survive a series of natural and man-made disasters. The setting is a dystopian Earth, but humans are still humans. The hunter-gatherers in the remote regions are toughing it out. But they need a little help from the past. Far-thinking ancestors have left behind Mother, a benevolent AI entity, and a vast store of knowledge. Young bow hunters discover and befriend Mother during a desperate quest for help. Mother helps them with advice, and she can defend herself, much to the surprise of the arrogant Masters.

The Masters were intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their development?

While I appreciate that faster-than-light travel sets up amazing sci-fi story possibilities, my books try to stay within the realm of the possible. Master Defiance suggests that intelligent beings can explore (and try to conquer) our galaxy at say 4% of light speed, if they are adapted (or genetically modified) to living for eons in a generation spaceship. This means vast expanses of time are required to move between stars, which could frustrate fans of ‘super warp speed’ using ‘ludicrous drive’ (a Spaceballs invention). The Masters are further developed during the series, as they are vindictive and persistent. They are also a tri-variant species, as revealed in Covert Alliance. And they view human beings as inferior, and only good slave material after gene-splicing. So, they are creatures that readers will love to hate!

I liked the contrast between the advanced aliens and the regressed humans. How did you want to represent this dichotomy?

Yes, the humans are technologically regressed, but they have retained their humanity. Yes, the Masters are technologically advanced, but they are inhuman. They view other worlds as theirs to conquer, and other species as theirs to enslave. Fighting the Masters is about saving our species, and about saving our humanity.

What do you try to do first when you write, inform or entertain?

Entertain a thinking person.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

The aliens are landing!

On a post-apocalyptic earth, the human species has reverted to its ancient native ways, surviving and thriving by hunting and fishing. It will be so easy for the strange invaders to take control.

But… there is one thing left from the old technological age of years before: a machine the earth hominids call “Mother”, which can teach them, through revisiting history, how to defend themselves.

Someone, many years ago, once said, “What have the Romans done for us?”

Well… now, their ideas might just save the planet!

‘Master Defiance’ is the first in a series.

Tube Survivors

Tube Survivors by [Blair Wylie]

Tube Survivors by Blair Wyle is about a carefully selected group of people who are now residents of “New Earth”. They face the trials and tribulations of getting accustomed to the new planet, along with the social and societal turmoil that comes with this unprecedented situation. Not only are they making their best attempt at survival, they also face strange new challenges: a fragile ecosystem, a pandemic capable of wiping out a whole species, and a psychopathic criminal on the loose.

The exploratory and adventurous tone of the book allows it to grow beyond being a typical science fiction narrative. The discussions between Abubaker and Ishikawa were especially interesting: they debate on which way they want the society to progress, ultimately rejecting a capitalistic model for one that empowers human potential. Even though some of the dialogue seemed a little idealistic and unlikely, it was still refreshing to see a science fiction book that doesn’t take a cynical or dystopian view of the world. Everything from rehabilitation of prisoners to resource allocation plans are presented with striking clarity. It made me reevaluate our systems on Earth and why things work the way they do.

There were a lot of topics discussed that would be considered political or controversial in today’s world. All these topics are effortlessly intertwined with the happenings on New Earth. The scientists and councillors work in a systematic and efficient manner to reach the root of problems and solve them one at a time.

This was a dense but an enlightening read. It presented a bleak view of our future if things continue the way they are, but also provided a believable version of our world that could be achieved with beautifully simple steps. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to take a break from the generally disillusioned tone of dystopian literature without compromising on the magic of science fiction.

Pages: 368 | ASIN: B07ZJH8YWB

Buy Now From B&N.com

And the Last Trump Shall Sound

And the Last Trump Shall Sound by [Harry Turtledove, James Morrow, Cat Rambo]

In the not-too-distant future, Mike Pence has ascended the ladder to the presidency, but the foundation that was laid during Donald Trump’s time in office still stands strong. The United States has become little more than a caricature of its former self as its people grow more and more extreme about almost literally every issue imaginable. Finally reaching a breaking point, the west coast declares its independence and comes Pacifica, prompting the northeast to consider following suit. As both nations adjust to the change, the stories that emerge range from terrifyingly feasible to laugh out loud absurd, with just a little of the bizarre thrown in for color.

And the Last Trump Shall Sound is a trilogy of novellas that explore a different aspect of the future of Trump’s America in the wake of Pacifica’s succession. Each entry is penned by a different author and as such, projects a drastically different voice. Although each story is connected and follows a linear timeline, using different authors helps to keep it fresh. 

“The Breaking of Nations” by Harry Turtledove illustrates the first days of Pacifica and the struggles faced by its leaders. Of the three, this one is easily the most frightening for its plausibility and passages that read more like non-fiction at times. Turtledove paints the picture of a future devoid of any semblance of morality or democracy and the people who want desperately to salvage what they can.

In contrast, “The Purloined Republic”, by James Morrow takes a more absurd approach to solidifying Pacifica’s status as an independent nation, a couple of years down the road. Taking a page out of classic spy and espionage novels, Morrow’s tone is much more tongue in cheek as our heroine Polly agrees to go undercover in the hopes of undermining Pence’s legitimacy, even among the most devoted Americans. What follows is a series of events that can only be described as both ridiculous and wildly entertaining. 

The final entry is “Because it is Bitter” by Cat Rambo, and this one gets weird. Set six years after the formation of Pacifica, it veers firmly into science fiction territory, and stops just short of portraying life in America as dystopian. It combines the implications of Trump’s future with a complete lack of privacy that raises plenty of questions about freedom and manipulation. It provides a fitting end to the trilogy as it leaves the door open for both hope and uncertainty.

For me, the opening story was the weakest of the three and made getting into the book a little slow, but it was nonetheless well written and a necessary read for the other two to make sense. I thoroughly enjoyed the differences in style and tone, and would love to read more from these writers in the future.

Pages: 257 | ASIN: B086Q1M8VQ

Buy Now From B&N.com

The One Singularity

The One Singularity by [RD Palmer]

Artificial Intelligence is the technology behind things like search algorithms, virtual assistants such as Siri, and self-driving cars. However, scientists are working towards Artificial General Intelligence, which will allow the creation of systems that are more intelligent than human beings. Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and the late Stephen Hawking warn of the dangers of this technology, such as autonomous weapons, social grading (for example, China’s social credit system), and more systems that invade your privacy. Perhaps the greatest danger is when the machines get so intelligent that they take over. See, an AGI’s solution to problems such as climate change, food shortage, and poverty might mean the annihilation of the whole world.

The One Singularity, by RD Palmer, is a futuristic thriller whose antagonist is an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) called The One. The protagonist is a scientist who hoped the AGI would be the last human invention. However, soon after he creates the first AGI in human history, he discovers its solution to problems in the world is not what he expected. Now he has to kill his creation to prevent it from wiping away the world’s population.

The book is written with vivid imagery, alluring diction, and excellent pacing. It provides a relatively clear view of what the world would become if we are not careful to regulate artificial intelligence and related technologies.

In the book, Palmer portrays how scientists are eager to make the world a better place through technology, how the military will always try to use such technology to their advantage, how there will always be a group who see the dangers of advanced technology, and how somehow religious sects like the Amish are on the right side by shunning technology.

What I liked most about the book is the unpredictability. I was consistently surprised with the twists and turns in the plot. RD Palmer doesn’t follow the familiar plot of other futuristic thrillers. There are lots of things you will not see coming, such as most human beings embracing the AGI, albeit without knowing its agenda.

I also liked how each chapter starts with a quote from a famous philosopher such as Galileo Galilei, Plato, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Aristotle.

The One Singularity is a riveting novel that has a cliff hanger of an ending that begs you to read the follow up novel. It leaves you wondering what happens to the characters. However, The One Singularity is by far the best futuristic thriller I have read this year, and one whose predictions I hope do not come true.

Pages: 387 | ASIN: B08DK8YJPX

Buy Now From B&N.com

A Diary in the Age of Water

A Diary in the Age of Water by [Nina Munteanu]

Nina Munteanu’s A Diary in the Age of Water follows the tale of Kyo, a blue four-legged creature in a post-climate-change world. Kyo is constantly plagued by dreams that appear to be experiences from a previous life. Constantly trying to find out the meaning of these dreams and where she fits in in this world and the one that existed before, Kyo spends a lot of the time at the library.

She consequently stumbles upon an ancient diary that holds illuminating revelations and heart-filled messages. As she goes through it and is immersed in its author’s experiences, we come to understand the circumstances that led to the climate change led apocalypse.

With a lot of scientific terms, explanations, and even drawings, the plot is quite believable, and can even be a little scary. The fact that Nina goes as far as mentioning our current world governments and how they contribute to this now desolate world is eerie, to say the least.

As a reader, part of me even begins to think that this could truly be our earth’s fate, giving me serious jitters. Now I may just be gullible but this book is quite convincing. Clearly, the author did a lot of scientific research before writing it. She dives deep into the science and various spiritual beliefs that support the inevitability of an apocalypse. As far as science fiction goes, this one is quite believable.

Moreover, the character development is quite strong, leaving us with a deep understanding of characters like Lynna and Hilde. The use of storytelling through different timelines is also quite an efficient way of weaving all the details of the story together.

Ultimately, this story is extremely detailed and well thought out. However, the many scientific paragraphs, even though drenched in poetry, can make it difficult to read, especially for those without a proclivity for science.

While bringing attention to the current politicization of climate change, the story maintains  important underlying themes like family, love, forgiveness, and the complexity of the human soul. The author has gone to great lengths to show that there are different layers to each character, none fully evil nor fully good. A Diary in the Age of Water is an exceptional and thought-provoking dystopian fiction.

Pages: 301 | ASIN: B08D6YDVVK

Buy Now From B&N.com

 

Crown of Crowns

Crown of Crowns by [Clara Loveman]

As a daughter of one of the ruling families of Geniverd, Kaelyn has never known anything outside of her life of privilege and protection. She begins to realize the depth of that privilege when she meets Roki and learns more about the struggles of the common people. Through personal tragedies and charitable work, Kaelyn’s life changes drastically in just three years, but she is unaware that the changes are about to escalate quickly, and in ways she could never have imagined. Suddenly faced with more power and knowledge than she thought existed, Kaelyn has to become the savior Geniverd didn’t know it needed.

Crown of Crowns by Clara Loveman takes place on a dystopian-esque planet named Geniverd where disease has been nearly eradicated, natural births are against the moral code, and machines do every job previously held by humans. The ruling class, with royal families on each of the six continents, live in luxury and are insulated from any of the problems faced by the rest of the population. Kaelyn never questioned the traditions that her family, and the other elitists, followed until her mid-teens when she realizes just how much of a division they have actually created within the world and the majority of the people. At that point, Crown of Crowns moves the narrative along at a breakneck pace, as Loveman introduces a barrage of situations that forces Kaelyn to quickly mature, as she struggles with an ever-changing worldview. The story is a smooth and easy read for the most part, although the language occasionally reverts to almost adolescent type slang, which is jarring and a departure from the overall competent tone of the book.

Crown of Crowns deals heavily with the theme of morality, and the idea of doing what is right versus doing what has always been done. Kaelyn makes it clear early on that she believes tradition isn’t always what’s best, especially when a majority of people are suffering as a result. Her beliefs form initially from a place of selfishness (tradition would keep her from being with the person she loves) but as she grows and learns more about the world, she sees that genuine change is necessary for the people to thrive. 

Reading Crown of Crowns right now was also incredibly interesting because there were key plot points that reflected issues in our current society, namely an unforeseen pandemic and severe social unrest caused by years of disregard for the “common” people. The characters were engaging and I was invested in discovering what Kaelyn would do next, however, the book ends abruptly, leaving loose ends and questions to be answered in a followup novel. Crown of Crows is an epic dystopian fantasy novel that will entertain young-adult fans.

Pages: 238 | ASIN: B08BJGNHT7

Buy Now From B&N.com

A Treacherous One

Jenna Greene
Jenna Greene Author Interview

Reborn follows the harrowing journey Lexil takes to find freedom in a dystopian future. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

The inspiration came at a writing conference called When Words Collide. I find writing events very good for my creativity. Between sessions I saw a meme on my phone about gingers. While I do not have red hair, many of my friends do, and it made me ponder what they thought of the stigma. That led me to thoughts about my much-hated freckles. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I’m quite certain the story was also influenced by my mother’s illness.

Lexil was a dynamic character that I rooted for throughout the story. What were some ideals you wanted her character to embody?

I wanted her to be someone a reader could know in real life. She has no extraordinary skills with a weapon, or unnatural intelligence. But she is extraordinarily perceptive and compassionate and bravery is something that comes to her out of necessity. Most importantly, she is a character who learns and grows throughout the story.

The Wastelands in the story were ominous and well crafted. What were some sources that influenced its creation?

I tried to think of hazards that were both natural and supernatural. I wanted an eerie feeling, as well as a treacherous one. I have written other fantasy novels and was able to create even better creatures than I had before.

What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?

The sequel to REBORN is in the editing process and I’m hoping to have some short stories published soon. In the interim, I’ve launched a podcast with fellow author Miranda Oh called “Quill and Ink: A Podcast for Book Lovers.”

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Those who bear marks on their skin are doomed to a life of slavery. Lexil has seven. Sold into servitude, Lexil must deal with brutal punishments, back-breaking labor, and the loss of every freedom. When a young child she has befriended faces a horrible fate, Lexil must intervene to protect her, no matter what the risk. With the help of a boy named Finn, the trio flee into the Wastelands. There, they must evade those who hunt them while trying to survive a barren landscape. Lexil must face challenges she’s never imagined existed, all while learning what it means to truly be reborn. The Red Queen meets The Hunger Games in this stunning new release. Buy REBORN now to find out if being branded a reborn is a myth, a curse… or a destiny.
%d bloggers like this: