The Separation follows Finn as he struggles to live in a world that separates the sexes and removes children from parents. Did you know where you were going when you started writing or did you let things happen organically?
This novel is actually part of a trilogy. I am currently working on the sequel, “United.” I had this great idea and created three stories based on the characters and storyline. Of course, some of the plot was initially simply outlined and then fleshed out significantly during the actual writing process. I am proud of this book. I think it touches on topics that are universal and of great interest to society today.
This book has a unique resolution to a real overpopulation problem. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
I wanted to address issues that are of great urgency in society today. Without bringing any of my own politics into this interview, I think the novel touches on provocative themes and pressing problems in society today. I won’t reveal all of them because I don’t want to give away the book. I feel this, above all my other work, is a must read. But, overpopulation is a real issue and I think this book addresses the topic head on.
Because the sexes are separated in the story, this makes for some great ‘worlds colliding’ type moments. What was your inspiration behind Finn and Angela’s relationship in the novel?
Their relationship is based on the fact that men and women are going to be different and have viewpoints on the separation (and on life in general) that are not necessarily identical. However, men and women do need each other in many respects. They complete each other in their own complex way. I wanted their relationship to reflect that.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on part two of this trilogy—-“United”–which will be out early in 2019!
In the distant future, there is a separation of the sexes at birth for the good of society. Financial needs, above all else, have led to such drastic measures. The Separation is the story of the life of a male named Finn. The book traces his life at birth and continues past his “education” as well as beyond the time when he ultimately learns of the opposite sex. What will result from the revelation of a female society? Finn may wish he never found out. This is a story of the consequences of needs, desires and answers to questions that sometimes should not be asked.
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Voice of a Crimson Angel is an intimate and thrilling story that leads up to your debut military science fiction book. What was the inspiration that made you want to explore a prequel?
Creating VOCA was something that was on my mind for many years, but it seemed too monumental a task to handle. It wasn’t until I was in the midst of writing Ballad of Demise that I began to see a grand tale in the making. I took that single scene of Julissa Marconi from Reverence and then imagined what her life had been like up to that point and after. That was the only push for the new trilogy. Many reviewers asked questions about how the characters got to where they are, so I figured it was an opportunity to give them answers. It turned out to be a fun experience.
Your currently studying history at the University of Riverside. How has your major helped you write your story and develop your characters?
A TON. The sad but fascinating aspect of history is that the story of the oppressed vs. an oppressor is a familiar one. From ancient Rome to the Spanish Empire, to the British and French empires, superpowers have always had their reign unimpeded for decades before eventual collapse. I wanted to build up the history of the United Nation Republic before it too faces its ultimate crisis. Whether it is still standing when the dust settles is to be determined in future installments.
I also drew influence from the revolutionaries of old, people such as Che Guevara and George Washington. Once the VOCA trilogy is completed, I believe people will see the connections in a new light. History was also a valuable tool in discovering how a revolution starts. First come the words, then the fight to crush those words, and then bullets. The term ‘regime change’ is one perhaps not widely known by the average person, but it is an unquestionable factor in global history. The U.S. has often played a pivotal role in such operations, among them Guatemala, Vietnam, and Iran. The more I read, the more The Expansion seemed very possible.
When writing, do you look at current events, and use them as a springboard for ideas or try to incorporate them into your story?
Current events play a big role most definitely. In VOCA Part I, we see a world where warfare is basically common place. The majority of the people either ignore or don’t care about the conflicts abroad. Once again, I looked to the U.S. The U.S. has been involved in some sort of war for almost its entire history, from the Civil War, Spanish-American, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and now the war on terror. Vietnam was the first U.S. war to not split the American conscious on a massive scale. Since 9/11, the U.S. hasn’t slowed down its war game, now in Niger, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. Despite this, there are no longer large protests confronting this reality. As we listen to music and watch the latest films, the war machine goes on expanding.
These issues, primarily our war driven economy, were the focal points for me in writing the VOCA trilogy.
Any chance you’ll write a prequel that shows the rise of Chancellor Venloran? Kind of like how Star Wars episodes 1-3 showed the rise of Darth Vader? In either case, what do you think that would be like?
I actually have played around with this idea, and the framework is definitely there. I can imagine a young Venloran who sees his country struggling and decides to act. In a way, he’d be comparable to Joseph Halsey, which would be a great foil. It would take time to plan out, especially since I have much planned for the Reverence series. The idea is very tantalizing, though. As of now, I’ve only hinted at the rise of the UNR. For this envisioned ‘prequel-prequel’, I would go in depth to the formation of the UNR Party itself.
The evilest of deeds start with the best of intentions.
Julissa Marconi’s life has never been quite the same since her husband slipped into a coma. Her relationship with her daughter is hanging by a thread, she’s lost all her friends, and she’s retreated to the bottle amidst her sorrows. Truth is, Julissa is struggling to find a reason to wake up in the morning. That all changes when the mysterious Dr. Neeson offers her a chance to discover the truth, and reclaim her life. With the help of the scheming Captain Halsey, Julissa finally has a reason to fight again. She’ll have to act fast, however. Her nation, the United Nation Republic, is hungry for aggressive expansion and the ravenous Chancellor Venloran will stop at nothing to achieve his own twisted goals. Return to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part I: Persecution, the long-awaited story that sets the stage for the entire saga.
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It’s the 22nd century and the world is overpopulated and under-educated. To combat this, the government has decided that male and female students will be segregated for their first 22 years of life. They will have no knowledge of the opposite sex or of their parents. Finn is a brilliant and questioning student, but his intelligence leads him to test boundaries and break rules. When he enters the real world he meets Angela, and they have a son, Leonardo, who awaits the same fate of separation. But Finn cannot let go of his son that easily, and he begins to tread on very dangerous ground…
The Separation by Thomas Duffy is a dystopian speculative fiction novel. Duffy has written a story with a fascinating premise, and some hefty themes are handled deftly by the author. Topics of religion, sex, gender and class are woven through the narrative, and many of the questions posed are philosophical ones such as ‘what is really important?’ and ‘what constitutes a ‘good’ life?’ There are interesting reflections on the complexity of human desire, governmental control, finding meaning in the world, and whether career or love is more important–all of which feel quite relevant in today’s world.
Finn makes for a very likeable hero, behaving in ways which are extremely relatable and understandable considering his circumstances. Duffy has written an empathetic protagonist, which isn’t always the case with dystopian fiction, and I was really rooting for him throughout. Some of the other characters, including Angela, remain quite one dimensional which limited me in really believing in, or caring about, her relationship with Finn. I would have liked some more well rounded female protagonists, but perhaps this was a technique used by the author to represent how detached the sexes are.
The book is written mainly in the third-person limited narrative with the focus on Finn, but we get insight into Angela’s thoughts and feelings too which helped me to feel slightly less detached from her. The writing is full of dialogue and at times it is weighed down with exposition—unfortunately, this made a lot of the dialogue feel quite heavy handed and not particularly natural. I particularly struggled with the conversations between Finn and Angela which were lacking in real emotion. Again, this could have been a mechanism used by Duffy to portray their stunted development when it comes to relationships/the opposite sex and communication. Despite this, the narrative moves at a fairly steady pace. I enjoyed watching Finn’s misdemeanours unfold, and there was plenty of action and intrigue to keep me turning pages.
Overall, this is a fascinating addition to sci-fi/dystopian fiction which might leave you in a slight existential crisis! It throws up profound questions about what is truly important in life, and if this sounds a little too intense, there are also lots of unexpected twists, turns and excitement to keep you on your toes.
Pages: 306 | ASIN: B078YRNM8M
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In Ballad of Demise resistance fighters have suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Chancellor Venloran who has one more trick up his sleeve. What themes did you want to capture in this book?
I tried to encapsulate many, but probably the most important for me was that desire does not equal righteousness. No matter how much Will and Venloran believe they are doing the right thing, I wanted there to always be a call back to reality. Both of them struggle to come to terms with this, as men of great power often do. This also ties into the importance of the past, namely the mistakes of history. Even though they are each other’s respective nemesis, Venloran and Will have tried to outrun their sins by doing what they see as good. The weight of their actions, however, always comes calling home.
Super soldier Will Marconi continues to develop and surprise me with his depth. How have you seen this character change throughout the series?
Will is so interesting for me to writer because he is caught in-between his past and new life. He’s still trying to grapple with the value of life, something he’s forsaken for a very long time. What I really enjoyed in this one was that we see that Will has some desire for normality, but he’s given up on it. In Reverence he was a cold-blooded killer and that part of him still clings to him like a leech. Fighting that urge is the new connection he’s made with Gabby, Jacob, Alex, and especially Halsey. He’s no longer isolating himself and has begun to see humans as equals.
I felt that this book transcended many genres including science fiction, military and even western. Was this a conscious effort or something that happened organically?
A little bit of both. In my case, it’s just me following the age-old advice of “write what you love”. From the addition of swords to a future warzone to the classic Western-style stare down, I’m just writing what I know would make me sit back as a reader and say “This is just awesome!” Initially I was worried my series wouldn’t have enough flying cars and aliens, and maybe someday I’ll write stories about those, but I firmly believe the Reverence series is a blend of my childhood fantasies and adult realizations, and I think it connects with readers because of it.
With this being the last book in the End of Knighthood trilogy what story are you working on next? Will we get to see Will Marconi in any other stories?
My curse is a plethora of ideas. As hinted at the end of Ballad of Demise, the next arc will be a prequel. Like the End of Knighthood books, it will be a three part series. It’s going to focus on Will’s wife and daughter and how they got entangled in this whole ordeal. Since it takes place before Reverence, readers will get to see plenty of familiar characters like Dr. Robert Neeson, Chancellor Venloran, Halsey, and Will as well. The Marconi family will be the focus, along with plenty of new characters. Beyond the prequel arc, let’s just say I have a ton in mind. There will definitely be an arc that answers a lot of the questions raised by the finale of Ballad of Demise.
The resistance fighters have suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of Chancellor Venloran. With many of his enemies dead or imprisoned, the Chancellor is ready to move to the final phase of his scheme: The International Summit. The historic event is just hours away, drawing leaders from all over the world to the United Nation Headquarters in New York City. Venloran believes peace through dominance is at last at hand.
At the same time, Will is hell bent on launching an assault on that very night, though the remaining troops are weary and few in number. The renegade cyborg has the help of tech experts Alex and Bri, along with pilot Gabriella, but the opposition may be more than they can handle. Awaiting any threat are the Chancellor’s deadliest soldiers, among them the cyborg hunter Aliss Howard and Will’s very own former superior officer, General Kane. Looming in the back of Will’s mind is the reality that innocent people will have to die to see his vengeance finally realized.
As both sides prepare to collide, none are aware that an unscrupulous politician, Secretary General Vanzetti, is eager for the bloodshed to begin.
Check out the finale of the End of Knighthood Arc and prepare for a thrill ride. The Reverence Series transcends the science fiction genre and will entertain readers of horror, war, fantasy, and even the western.
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Ballad of Demise is the third and final installment of the End of Knighthood series by Joshua Landeros. Set in the far future, we continue following Will Marconi, the renegade cyborg super soldier, who is aiming to launch an assault the same night as the International Summit. Chancellor Venloran, emboldened by his victory against the resistance fighters, moves into the final phase of his scheme. The International Summit will draw leaders from all over the world to New York City, and he will be able to achieve peace through the dominance of his design. It is up to Will, Alex, Bri, Gabriella, and others to stop the Chancellor and his deadly minions.
Ballad of Demise is an explosive and satisfying conclusion to the End of Knighthood trilogy. Landeros has been getting better and better with every installment. Expanding the borders of military science fiction, Ballad of Demise incorporates elements of horror through war and the suspense of a thriller. All of this adds up to a book that does its best to defeat the conventions of the genre and archetypal narrative structure.
While confining this book to virtually 48 hours and flashbacks, one would think this is a bold move from a relatively new author, but Landeros manages to pull this off with skill. The pace is snappy and engrossing for the reader. The internal struggle of Will and even Venloran shape the tone and theme of the work, which keeps asking if the ends justify the means. Even for the proposed hero, Will finds himself questioning if everything is acceptable for him to have his vengeance.
If there are any issues in this book at all, it would be that Landeros tries hard to stretch out these two days. Some of the action seems forced, and in other places, the dialogue slows the pacing but never enough for the reader to notice for too long. These are minimal problems and ones that take nothing away from the story itself.
For a trilogy, this series sets a high mark for the rest of Landeros career. In other ways, readers will be sad to see this cast of characters go but maybe they will return in future stories? Either way, this book is memorable and a fantastic sound off for Will Marconi. One can hope that such a world does not arise in the future, but these books seem to be asking, what if?
Pages: 161 | ASIN: B076BW7YLJ
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Pegasus follows captain Thorn as he and his crew embark on a fateful trip that will leave their ship sabotaged. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
This story is set about a hundred years in the future after a series of global conflicts that has destroyed governments and devastated the natural environment. But it’s not a bleak, dystopian future. My main viewpoint was that after things settle down, the Earth begins to heal itself and the survivors find a way to work together to make the world a better place. But people being people, there are still those who want to exploit the environment for their own gain. This is what’s happening on the moon, and it’s the discovery of this damage that drives the story. At one point, Thorn is standing on the moon looking at Earth; this beautiful, fragile, and completely unique jewel in the vast blackness of space, and he realizes how precious it is. It’s the only home we’ve got, and we’ve got to protect it. The theme is further explored on a smaller scale as this crew of very different people realize they have to work together if any of them are to survive.
Thorn is a laid back, hard-on-his-luck man full of quirks and a relatable backstory. Was there someone that served as inspiration for his character? How did he change as you wrote the story?
This is the first in what I hope will be a series of books. In my other series, David Larkin is the nearly perfect hero; smart, strong, brave, and almost always right. My wife observed that Larkin is who I want to be, and Thorn is who I really am. She might have a point. Thorn doesn’t consider himself a hero; he’s just a guy trying to do a job. He is sometimes selfish, sometimes cranky, and resentful of these people he’s forced to live with in a very confined space. But over the course of the story he comes to appreciate the different skills that these people can contribute to their mutual survival, and when he loses a crew member, he is truly touched and deeply saddened.
Steven Wilson, a huge part of the success of Justin Thorn’s mission, is a character I would like to see further developed. What was your initial idea behind his character and where do you see him going in the future?
Thorn readily admits that he doesn’t have a lot of technical knowledge, and Steven contributes skills that Thorn lacks. He’s a bit of a geek, very smart, with a lot of knowledge and a creative way of applying it. He’s the brains of the outfit. In their second adventure together, Steven will once again find a creative solution to a life-threatening situation to hopefully save everyone.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next book is entitled Intrepid, and this time Thorn and Steven are going to Mars to attempt to rescue the scientists at the outpost there. But when they arrive, things go horribly wrong and the survivors must find a way to get their crippled ship back to Earth, millions of miles away. It should be out by the end of the year.
Captain Justin Thorn is hired to transport equipment and supplies to a mining colony on the moon. When they arrive, Thorn and his crew discover a shocking secret that could jeopardize all life on earth. On their return ship they find that their ship has been sabotaged, leaving them unable to return to Earth without burning up in the atmosphere. Trapped in orbit and with time and air running out, they attempt a daring maneuver that could either save their lives or kill them all.
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Utopia follows Brian who wakes up from a coma to a world very different world. He is given everything, but Brian starts to question this with deadly effects. I always found the idea of Utopia’s ripe with social commentary. What message did you want to convey to readers with this book?
The three things that people invest so much time into finding are a good job, a nice home, and someone to share their life with. It would save a lot of frustration if these things are automatically given to you right from the get go. However, every society has to have some structure to make sure it remains successful. Working in the shadows of this perfect world is a control factor that cannot allow people to reach their full potential. It limits the possibility for humanity to achieve personal achievements because then they are suggesting something is not perfect.
If something is perfect it does not need to be changed; just like if something is at its highest level of operation then it cannot be further advanced or bettered. If everything was perfect then nothing new can ever happen. Sounds like a boring existence.
Do you think Utopia’s can ever be possible for humans? Or do you think hardship is a natural and acceptable part of life?
While it is a nice concept I believe a Utopia can never be successful. People’s lifestyles and goals vary too much to fit into any perfect structure. What might be perfect for one person will be intolerable for someone else.
In Utopia, everyone lives in posh apartments with next to no rent. That may be awesome for a few of us, but then you will have those who like having a yard or a basement, or not living with other people or even may need a garage. There are too many variables to make everyone happy.
Nobody wants to experience hardships, but if you take a look back those hardships taught you what you needed to know to learn and grow. A bad job can motivate you to look for another one or go back to school; your future will now be better because of that bad job. If everything was perfect we would have no need to change anything.
One of my favorite utopian stories is The Island with Ewan McGregor. What is one of your favorite utopian stories that inspired you?
The Demolition Man was a movie that came out in 1993 and depicts a non-violent world with no murder, theft, or crime of any kind; not even a curse word is ever uttered. When a real criminal is let loose in the city the police do not know how to stop him.
In my story the enemy is the government, which is not uncommon. Governments, politics, and conspiracies seem to go hand in hand. Organizations like the Illuminati, Freemasons and The Majestic 13 have been theorized to be the evil puppeteers behind our society for generations. If there is a system or structure set up, there will be a reason to find fault with it; and there is fault with it. Afterall, this is not a perfect world.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book will be written as a regular novel and takes place in a futuristic past. I am trying to merge several genres together. Right now I’ll categorize it as a sci-fi, fantasy, mystery with elements of steampunk, legends and erotica… Give me some time with this one.
Brian Troth is a defense attorney, who after being shot in the head, awakes from a coma thirty years later. He is told that the world is now “perfect” where everything is provided. He is given a new job, a posh apartment and, to his surprise, the perfect romantic match. However, when he questions the sudden disappearance of a colleague and stumbles upon a concealed government secret; he and his loved one become targeted for a swift removal.
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In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.
The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.
But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible…
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A futuristic, dystopian story which combines elements of mystery, tension, and eccentricity. The Wagon Driver is one of David Berardelli’s many stories inspired by the works of Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Ian Fleming, and Rod Serling.
The story is set in the not-so-distant future where eighteen-year-old Kyle Sonnet lands his first job as an employee of the Department of Population Control. Population control is the pivotal theme throughout The Wagon Driver, and leaves the reader to believe that Earth’s population is more than it can bare. To resolve this issue, wagon drivers are required to follow ambulances and collect bodies and dispose of them. Unsettling, don’t you think?
Kyle Sonnet is the main protagonist of the story, and instantly you feel a sense of empathy towards him. The early chapters of the book point out themes of isolation and loneliness; illustrated by Kyle’s childhood background of growing up in an orphanage. Now, he has left his younger years and is trying to find his feet. However, when he lands this job and is stated that he “cannot quit”, as a reader, you soon realize that Kyle’s luck has not improved.
What I loved about this book is how the story follows the life of a young adolescent who is simply trying to find his way in the world. Instead of finding a job to gain some independence, Kyle soon realizes that he is in over his head. As the story unfolds, we soon realize that the issue of population control alongside the collapse in the healthcare system, means that euthanasia has taken over. Kyle finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy when he witnesses something of utter horror; Kyle needs to make a crucial decision. Does he continue with his job and accept what has happened, or does he face a challenging escape and risk his life in attempt for resolution?
The story moves at a steady pace, and I was pleasantly surprised by the twist in the narrative. What makes for good reading is uncertainty and uniqueness, and I believe the author of The Wagon Driver does this remarkably. The grammar and punctuation is strong, and the narrative is creative and unique.
The Wagon Driver, a book full of entrapment, isolation, and shock is a great read. An emotive, intriguing and dramatic novel set in a dystopian American society. The story goes against the American dream, and instead shows real concern and fear, in the hope that things can change. At the expense of everyone, the world and how it is portrayed is now simply in the hands of a naïve, inexperienced eighteen-year-old boy.
Pages: 402 | ASIN: B0725V6ZKH
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Pamela Schloesser Canepa’s novel, Detours in Time, is anything but your run of the mill science fiction novel. It follows Professor Milton Braddock, who has conveniently developed a time-traveling car, and his assistant turned traveling companion, Tabitha (cutely nicknamed “Pinky” by the professor). The pairing of the older and more experienced Milt with young, spunky Tabitha will feel comfortably familiar to Doctor Who fans, as the two travel through time, encountering futuristic adventures as they begin to feel a bit closer than just friends. Though their time travels begin as scientific examinations into both the past and the future, Milt and Pinky’s present and future lives begin to unravel when they break their golden rule of not disturbing the future.
Canepa’s novel excels by creating three distinct time periods that each feel relatable to readers: 1997 (the “present” for Milt and Pinky), 2018, and 2047 (where most of the novel occurs). By creating a recent past setting, a practically present setting, and a not too distant future setting, Canepa creates a science fiction novel that relies on her well-developed plot and inter-character relationships rather than the spaceships, aliens, and high-tech gadgets of many science fiction works.
Detours in Time begins mid-adventure in 2047, without skipping a beat. Though 2047 is certainly more futuristic than what readers in 2017 experience in their daily lives, it is not so high-tech as to be completely beyond belief. But perhaps most shocking to readers will be how the citizens of 2047 describe the war that tore apart the United States in 2019, with reasons for division painfully realistic: “how tax money was spent, which citizen’s rights could or could not be limited and for what reason, the role of the military, who was allowed to immigrate into the country…” Milt and Pinky are aghast at the country’s divide, but readers’ hearts in 2017 will ache at the accuracy of what Canepa describes.
But, thankfully for readers, Canepa does not spend too much time dwelling on the demise of the United States, but rather takes a closer look at the questions that time travel inevitably brings: What happens when you interfere? Could a single action reroute history entirely? Are you better off not knowing? The last question is one that Pinky and Milt find themselves asking after they look into their own futures and decide to take a bite of the forbidden fruit: trying to change the future.
A truly five-star novel, Detours in Time is a well-written and interesting story with characters who are developed independently and whose relationships are carefully crafted, not flung together as if forced. Detours never stalls or bores readers, but it invests enough time in explanations and detail that it feels thought out. Readers will find Milt and Pinky’s 90s naïveté charming (What’s a text? What does it mean to swipe? Why would anyone eat food out of a truck?) but also eye-opening: how long ago were we asking those same questions ourselves? Milt and Pinky’s present is just twenty years in our past, which begs the question, what wonders or terrors does twenty years in our future hold? Canepa brings Detours In Time to a natural close, but leaves the door wide open for a second novel in the series, hopefully one that readers will not have to travel too far into the future to experience.
Pages: 305 | ASIN: B0711ZW6XF
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