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Interview – Gary A. Ballard

Gary A. BallardThe Monster learns a new word, pastiche, and talks cyberpunk inspiration with Gary Ballard author of, Under the Amoral Bridge.





Under the Amoral bridge is a cyberpunk novel set in the future. What draws you to the cyberpunk genre?

“As someone very interested in both history and politics, I’ve long thought that cyberpunk is the perfect expression of class warfare. It’s the post-apocalypse of capitalism – the capitalists have won, the every man is buried and as a result, the whole world has gone to shit for the proletariat and the underclasses. The protagonist no longer is at best an everyman just trying to survive. Plus, the cyberpunk genre fits so perfectly with film noir style drama, something that’s always appealed to me.”

Bridge is a humorous character whose intelligence is exhibited through his dialogue. What was your inspiration for his character and did you pull anything from personal experience?

“Bridge is kind of a pastiche of a number of characters. Lenny Nero from the great film Strange Days was a huge inspiration in terms of the job. A friend of mine played a very similar character to Nero’s in a Cyberpunk 2020 campaign that I ran for a few years, and I gained some inspiration from him as well. As the character’s inception, I had a few rules. He wasn’t going to be an action hero – he wouldn’t be the type that would try to punch or shoot his way out of a situation and if he had to, it would end up being a colossal failure. He would be more akin to the Peter Lorrie characters from the Maltese Falcon than say Bogart’s character. He’s the type of character Bogart would beat up to get information. The humor and wit was mostly me letting my cynicism run rampant, the kind of black, biting humor from comedians like Dennis Leary.”

The book focuses on political corruption. Were you influenced by today’s political climate or was there a different source of inspiration?

“The political climate of the Bridge Chronicles started from the premise that corporations would be allowed to purchase cities, counties and entire states and run them as city-state type fiefdoms. They’d still be marginally accountable to a federal government and would be required to at least maintain a veneer of democratic governance. What would that world be like, politically? And behind the front, what would be the end game of that sort of system? Over the four books in the Bridge Chronicles series, there has been an evolution of the political system that is headed somewhere. That somewhere hasn’t been revealed but when I get back to the Bridge universe, I’ll be revealing a lot more about what is going on that even Bridge hasn’t been able to discover yet.”

I could swear that there was some World of Warcraft references in your book. Do you spend any time playing video games? Or was I just imagining the references?

“I play video games a lot more than I should. I wouldn’t say it was World of Warcraft references so much as Everquest references, though not really specific to either game. I’ve been a long time player of MMOG’s like WoW, as well as doing a stint on a video game/MMOG commentary site for a few years. I’ve done a lot of thinking about what makes a good MMOG as well as where the medium could and should go in the future. The existence of worlds like the Bottle City from the 3rd Bridge book or Ars-Perthnia is directly based on those ideas. Before Under, Bridge was involved in creating those types of virtual worlds and they are a vital part of the hacker culture in that world.”

What else are you working on?

“I’ve taken a temporary hiatus from the Bridge Chronicles series to write a series of cosmic horror novellas in the Cthulhu Mythos. It’s called The Stepping Stone Cycle, and I’ve just released the second book in the series. The first is called First Stone; the second is The Metal Black. They are written as novellas with the idea that each novella would be like an episode of a T.V. series with an overarching plot for the entire season. I’m writing the 3rd book now, and I expect the first “season” to be 6 novellas in all.”

Review: Under the Amoral Bridge by Gary Ballard

Under the Amoral Bridge (The Bridge Chronicles, #1) 4star

Artemis Bridge is a man with connections. He’s the guy who knows a guy and he sells his connections to those that have a need and the cash. He’s an ex hacker turned legitimate business man (there’s nothing illegal about introducing two people). He operates in the grey market unwilling to get his hands dirty. He thinks fast and talks fast, but when he’s given a damaging video that puts him in the cross hairs of the most powerful men in the city very few of his connections are willing to help him. Bridge must get his hands dirty; doing things he swore never to do again, and in the process he learns who his real friends are, who he really is, and who really runs Los Angeles.

The first thing you’ll notice about Under the Amoral Bridge is the concise and witty language that’s used to develop the character of Artemis Bridge which serves to deliver a clear vision of the characters motivations and world view. The clever writing is not just in narration or internal dialogue, but the banter between characters is some of the more subtly humorous and engaging writing that I’ve read in a while. The novel is fairly short and a quick read, I believe it’s the product of a serialization. If I’m forced to stop praising the succinct writing my only negative comment would be with the ending of the novel which seemed a bit muddled and rushed with the resolution delivered in the last chapter. Which I don’t dislike for any kind of literary principal, it’s just in this case the ‘facts’ were vaguely defined. Even the revelation of the facts were delivered a little too easily making it a little too unbelievable as they were simply told to Bridge by someone that spent the entire novel trying to keep Bridge from finding out too much. But in the end the ending didn’t live up to expectations because the novel succeeded so well in telling an awesome story.

Pages: 170 pages
ISBN: 1449509673

Find out more about the Bridge Chronicles at Tales from the Bridge Chronicles

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