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Orange City

Orange City by [Matthew Goldberg, Lee]

Orange City by Lee Matthew Goldberg is an exciting dystopian thriller and pretty much a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s about Orange City: a bizarre place where its inhabitants are kept firmly under the control of the Man. Here they toil away for faceless organizations and use petty distractions to not drown in the misery of their jobs. Here, Graham Weatherend is placed in a unique position– he has to decide whether he will work for a dangerous and addictive new product, innocuously named Pow! Soda or whether he will take up the more risky path of finding out exactly what is going on in a world where he can trust few.

Graham is an introverted and humorous character with neat tricks up his sleeve in the most unlikely situations. His quest is to find out the truth about the soda while avoiding being banished to The Zones. All the while navigating the unexpected effects of Pow! Soda. There are some other difficult topics also addressed in this book– especially surrounding Gayle’s situation. The abuse of power and free will are central to the characters’ motivations and behavior.

I kept trying to anticipate the next twist of the plot but I could never guess where this book was going to go- the book is not only a few steps ahead of me, it simply does not follow regular science fiction rules. Which is not a bad thing at all- I was strapped in for a fun romp and ended up with a substantial and thoughtful novel. There’s probably thousands of science fiction books and movies in the world but the best of the lot have always been the ones that are adjacent to reality. The sweet spot in the uncanny valley where if the universe were merely a few degrees askew the characters’ lives would be our lives. This is what happens here.

The writing is sharp and cool- it has a neo-noir thriller vibe to it that wouldn’t be out of place in a movie where a tortured Ryan Gosling runs around town saving people while being drenched in moral ambiguity. Meaningful prose and intense drama ensues.

Orange City is a great read for anyone who enjoys science fiction thrillers or just cool and atmospheric books in general. Just be prepared to have a mini-existential crisis about where our world is headed!

Pages: 231 | ASIN: B08R96Z37G

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Their Journey Through Survival

Christopher Cole
Christopher Cole Author Interview

Outbreak is a thrilling zombie apocalypse novel with great action, endearing characters and a strong plot. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

Good stories like The Last of Us, Telltale’s The Walking Dead along with AMC’s version, The Road, etc. Certain survival stories where the main characters developed and changed on their journey through survival and endurance. I was mainly inspired by Neal Shutterman’s book Everlost.

What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

That my characters would be three dimensional, that the story would be compelling in reflection to the impact on the characters, and it would have some kind of ending where readers can get closure. That I would write a character for readers to root for.

I think this novel delivers some very entertaining scenes. What was the funniest thing about writing this novel?

The funniest thing to me is originally it was gonna end sooner. The big climax near the end wasn’t originally gonna happen but after a friend read it before I submitted it, he told me it needed something more. Ironically, adding more was what delivered a big climactic ending.

What story are you currently writing and when will it be available?

I’m currently writing Book 3 of the Dark Days Series and I’m co-writing another book called Rising Up. I don’t know when they will be released.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website | AllAuthor | BookBub

Cities are bombed out ruins and wilderness is humanity’s new home. The undead roam the earth, and the new world order is about the struggle to survive. Sonny Daniels begins an emotional and physical journey of personal survival and protecting those he loves.

While survival is a constant struggle, Sonny’s most desperate fight is the struggle preserve some semblance of a compassionate soul. Sonny and his parents are caught in the zombie outbreak in upstate New York. After the passage of the first year, their base is attacked by bandits and their safety has again been compromised. Fearing for their loved ones, Sonny’s parents send him and his orphaned childhood friends, Ashley and Carrie, to Fort Denver Colorado on a military plane.

When Fort Denver is overrun with zombies, the three are alone in a zombie-infested wasteland without the army’s protection, forced to rely upon one another and a handful of equally desperate survivors they encounter along the journey. Sonny is determined to do whatever it takes to protect Ashley and Carrie while finding a safe place to call home, but survival can force you to make dark decisions.

Outbreak (The Dark Days Series Book 1)

Outbreak (The Dark Days Series Book 1) by [Christopher Cole]

Christopher Cole’s Outbreak (The Dark Days Series Book one) is a fast-paced sci-fi thriller with an endearing cast of characters, and enough action to keep you hanging off the edge of your seat.

The plot follows child-protagonist ‘Sonny’ and his two best friends, Carrie and Ashley. After being separated from their families, the three kids are soon plunged into catastrophe. Ill-prepared and barely 11 years old, the children must learn to look after themselves in a world where roaming hordes of ‘infected’ zombies are the new normal. The plot centers around young Sonny’s early passage into adulthood; how he must ‘grow up fast’ to protect those he loves the most, and the effect this has on his psyche.

Christopher Cole creates meaningful bonds between Sonny, Carrie, Ashley, and every other character the three children encounter along their journey. What’s more impressive is that Cole manages to do so in a short story that runs thick-and-fast with tense moments and brutal action. Sonny treasures his relationships and it’s these friendships that provide some of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the book, whilst also giving weight to the tough life-and-death decisions that Sonny must make. Cole also manages to create tension and action cinematically throughout this novel. Take Sonny’s face-to-face encounter with a zombie, his simple imagery, coupled with Sonny’s narrative commentary, provide a matter-of-fact description that leaves tension building up to the reader’s imagination.

Outbreak delivers value on its themes of martyrdom, personal growth, and loyalty. The consequence of Sonny’s decisions is something that is alluded to, but not built upon as much as I would have hoped. Overall, though, this is a really good, easy-to-read, post-apocalyptic thriller with great action, endearing characters and a strong plot.

Pages: 212 | ASIN: B08GBMF3LG

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The Dark Days Series

Christopher Cole
Christopher Cole Author Interview

Sanctuary follows Sonny to a militarized city where he’s conscripted into the city’s guard. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that was different from book one?

Some ideas I wanted in my book were things like showing humanity and compassion towards others. Like how Sonny agreed to pretend to be Clara’s son Nathan or sparing a bandits life. Other ideas were defending their home by training the next generation for thinking ahead. The first book was mainly about survival while the second book was about finding a sanctuary and protecting it and its people inside.

I enjoyed the contrast between the sanctuary and the outside world. Was this dichotomy intentional or incidental to the story you wanted to tell?

It was completely intentional. In a dystopian world, it brings out the worst in people. So, it would make sense that certain people would be desperate for protection and supplies to stay alive. So much so that they would be willing to slaughter innocent people for it.

I thought this story had a unique setup and an interesting premise. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?

I was inspired by many other stories such as The Walking Dead, The Road, The Last of Us, etc. These stories helped give me an idea of how savage people can be in an apocalyptic world. As for the story, I was inspired by some of Gary Paulsen’s books and Neal Shutterman’s books. Gary Paulsen can make you feel like you’re in the action, especially through the character’s point of view. Neal Shutterman helped me learn that stories can be more interesting if told through different character’s points of view and how their events with the main character’s events collide together can build up excitement.

This is book two in your Dark Days series. What can readers expect in book three?

I’m still developing it, but readers can expect a bigger scale in conflict with forces from the outside world. The Pacific Army is trying to reclaim America by expanding its territory, but with the limited number of soldiers and resources that can take a lot of time and be difficult. The characters are growing up so they can expect romance blossoming among them, some are figuring out their sexual identity. I’ll be developing issues and situations where the characters have to deal with the fact that sometimes there is no right thing to do in a dystopian environment or warzone. I’ll try to set up where they have to draw the line in complicated situations where it’s about right and wrong or it’s about staying alive and keeping your people alive. The main theme of The Dark Days series is about humanity struggling to stay in an apocalyptic world. That can be extremely hard and even impossible at certain times like that. There’s a lot I’m working with, but it’s still in development, so there’s gonna be changes before its release.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website | AllAuthor | BookBub

In the midst of looking for sanctuary in the badlands, Sonny and his friends make it to Fort Gold Rush. A militarized city providing protection from the zombies and predators beyond its walls.

However, the military leaders recognize the city’s safety as a sanctuary is only temporary unless they train the next generation of defenders. It’s there that Sonny is introduced to Grim, an unlikely anti-hero who becomes the singularly most important influence in Sonny’s life. As he and his friends adapt to their new life, they are conscripted to train rigorously as the city’s soldiers and defenders in competing units.

This second installment in the Dark Days series shows there are significantly more lessons awaiting Sonny and his friends than just learning to be lethal fighters.

Living with Internal Conflict

Author Interview
Rik Valuks Author Interview

Dead Earth Dreaming details a dystopian future rife with classism that tests the human spirit. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?

As a teenager involved in the punk scene in the 80s, watching the public assets of Australia being privatised and sold off by the government to create a surplus despite the long term ramifications was outrageous, and we as citizens were powerless to do anything about it. By the 90s international globalism was on the rise along with entertainment technology to distract the masses, and before you knew it the general public was missing the bigger picture of the corruption that was going on around them. Ignorance is bliss, but standing outside of the box at that time made it obvious what was happening to the world.

I started writing Dead Earth Dreaming from page 1 without a plan, no step-sheet, and no idea where it would head. I still write like that because to me it flows and goes where it wants, making it exciting to sit down and write instead of a chore. I couldn’t get DED traditionally published at the time, but with some of the recent events happening now like Covid, the prospect of Moon mining, and the satellite technology dependence that is now used every day, I felt I had to get it out there even if just a few people read it.

Kelly is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind the characters development?

Kelly is an innocent, like a child still who has never had a chance to develop within himself. Everything in the outside world is new to him and yet he understands values and morals even though from an almost naive point of view.

His perspective is from an ancestral memory of his indigenous heritage that was introduced into his cloning by whatever means, and I guess it’s a reflection on the plight of the “Stolen Generation” of Australian Aboriginal people who were removed from their families for being “half-caste” never to see them again, as recently as the 1970s in this country. It’s a blight on this nation and an embarrassment for the Government still to this day. Some of those people are only now finding long lost family members.

But as well as the First Nation angle, Kelly earned his name from the great Australian Bushranger Ned Kelly who has a legendary status amongst Aussie battlers for being a Colonial anti-authoritarian figure. He fought his shootouts with the police wearing a steel armour suit fabricated by himself and his brothers, but ultimately died in a gunfight whence his last words were “Such is life”, now a common phrase used in Australia.

The other main character not so far mentioned is Junger, the Upside detective sent for his retrieval. Kelly and Junger are two sides of the same coin. Whereas Kelly has been incarcerated his whole life for thinking freely, Junger walked the line and lived as he should do, but felt discontent and resentment so he was never really free either. He did what he was told even if he felt it was wrong but was conditioned to never question authority, and so was constantly living with internal conflict.

The story explores many societal issues common today and taken to future extremes. What were some themes you wanted to focus on in this book?

I think the theme of Anarchism used in the story is in retrospect probably a bit naive considering human nature can be such a savage beast, but I wanted to stay centrist and criticise all of the above, not just one side of partisan politics. You could say every social movement evolves and mutates, but unfortunately the eyes of business and profit are always watching too. Without getting involved in specifics, when a social movement becomes too political you have to question why and who is actually funding the agenda, and if it involves violence of any sort then it has crossed the line into urban terrorism.

In Dead Earth Dreaming I imagined people actually caring about each other’s welfare at a personal level rather than a political level, and striving together to beat the odds stacked against them as a community.

But in the end, I really just had a hell of a lot of fun writing it and I hope it’s fun to read, because that’s what it’s about, entertainment and a chance to escape for a few hours into another world.

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

I’ve completed a few stories over the years since this my first novel, but they were unfinished as novels and written into screenplay format as an effort to break into film. Although seemingly to my detriment, it did give me an improved perception on description by objective viewing rather than telling, but now I have the epic task of conversion into novel form.

Next book to work on is Alien~Gothic, in 2005 as a screenplay it was well received by several major LA agents but I was told it would be way too expensive to produce, especially for an unknown writer. It is a story that explores the origins of man, and the mythologies of early civilisations that seem to be linked by certain key factors of the Creators that came from the sky. It follows the story of an average man who finds a crystal skull grown in a single formation into the shape of an alien grey skull, and the Greys and Daemons that are trying to retrieve it from his possession.

Also in the back catalogue is Switch, a DID thriller; Cerise, a ghost horror; and The Runic Guide, a short guide to the use of the Futhark Runes which won the 2006 Writesafe Book of the Year with The Cloud Creek Institute For the Arts.

Finding the time to write while working a full time job heavy lifting at 53 is a challenge, as most of my time off is spent tinkering in the garage, drinking beer and napping.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

The moon’s orbit has been disturbed by corporate warfare, laying the Earth victim to massive king tides and fierce dry electrical storms. The elite have taken to the skies in gigantic flying cities, leaving the third class workers to survive on the ground with no support, striving to rebuild life on the planet’s surface.
This is the setting for Dead Earth Dreaming.
Above the waterline but underground are Breeding Colonies, used to create genetically engineered workers by the Upside authorities, pumping out obedient and thoughtless slaves for the system. Occasionally though, a worker will show signs of individualism, and for this they are placed in a rehabilitation institution.
C22108/3 was incarcerated as an indigenous boy, and after 23 years he escapes his outback prison and heads for the old city of Sydney to find freedom as a man. An Upside detective, Junger, is sent to find him with the aid of a T2R, a Tactical Response Retriever.
C22108/3 connects with the locals, inheriting the name ‘Kelly’ through his use of a lead suit to evade the tracking of his Internal Position Monitor. The chase is on for Junger to intercept Kelly before he reaches the Bunker, an abandoned Colony reopened by a band of punk squatters. Overseen by the sole survivor, Cat, the Bunker is now utilized as a medical centre and IPM removal ward for Upside refugees wishing to be freed from the constraints of Authority.
Human spirit will shine in a world with no future.
Originally written in the 1990s, now is the time to read Dead Earth Dreaming.

Outbreak – Book Trailer

Cities are bombed out ruins and wilderness is humanity’s new home. The undead roam the earth, and the new world order is about the struggle to survive. Sonny Daniels begins an emotional and physical journey of personal survival and protecting those he loves.

While survival is a constant struggle, Sonny’s most desperate fight is the struggle preserve some semblance of a compassionate soul. Sonny and his parents are caught in the zombie outbreak in upstate New York. After the passage of the first year, their base is attacked by bandits and their safety has again been compromised. Fearing for their loved ones, Sonny’s parents send him and his orphaned childhood friends, Ashley and Carrie, to Fort Denver Colorado on a military plane.

When Fort Denver is overrun with zombies, the three are alone in a zombie-infested wasteland without the army’s protection, forced to rely upon one another and a handful of equally desperate survivors they encounter along the journey. Sonny is determined to do whatever it takes to protect Ashley and Carrie while finding a safe place to call home, but survival can force you to make dark decisions.

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Armageddon and Beyond – Trailer

The end of the world has arrived. Long prophesized by every human religion, the end of days crawls upon humanity in a chain of devastating events threatening to destroy the entire world. Armageddon. The last battle between God, Satan and all of their souls.

It began with the quest to unlock the final piece of the evolutionary process. Scientific exploration pushed the boundaries too far, prompting the birth of the being destined to lead us all to ruin. The Anti-Christ has returned upon the Earth: an unstoppable opposing force of death and destruction.

Billions will perish as the Seven Seals of the Apocalypse are broken. Over the course of twenty-seven thousand years the Earth will undergo massive change. Each time the broken survivors reform and rebuild the population, but it is a game that has an expiration date within the realms of energy.

A new world is dawning. One no one is prepared to endure. For to survive through the apocalypse is an exercise of horrors unimagined. Pain and suffering plague the pockets of humanity through unimaginable devastation. All are transformed in ways least expected. The final battle between Heaven and Hell has been a long time in coming. Now that it is here, neither side will back down until there is one ultimate victor.

The board is set. A brief period of peace arrives, but it is little more than a pause before the final dark storm sweeps across the world and undoes the very fabric of existence. Armies of light and darkness gather. Humanity’s remnants struggle to survive, some turning to faith to deliver them while others embrace their evil wickedness. The endgame is at last upon them and the outcome will determine the course of all eternity.

Armageddon and Beyond is a must read thriller that will keep you on edge until the last page is turned. It answers all of life’s big questions.

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The History of How Civilization Ended

Dave Matthes Author Interview
Dave Matthes Author Interview

Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a western, action, and science fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

-“Blackheart Mountain” is actually a prequel to a novella I wrote last year, titled “Mercy”, which was only supposed to be a one-shot story. “Mercy” was so well received that it got me thinking about writing more for the character of Mahoney. While writing “Mercy”, it started off as simply another run of the mill post-apocalypse story that I began writing out of trying something new, since I don’t really dabble too much in either genres of westerns, science fiction, or post-apocalypseness, but as with everything I write, and I’m sure as it happens with a lot of writers, the story and the subject nature just kind of evolve on its own. About halfway through finishing the first draft of “Blackheart Mountain”, I came up with a story for a third book, to take place after “Mercy”, and just before finishing “Blackheart Mountain”, I came up with an idea for another story for Mahoney. So there will most likely be four books total for Mahoney and the world he lives in.

I understand that you have an educational background in computer engineering, automotive science and criminal justice. Has your familiarity with these subjects helped you write your books?

Actually not at all. There isn’t a shred of my formal educational background that I can say helped with my writing career. I can say that many people I met in college influenced some of the characters I’ve written about, but that’s where it ends. Most of my research for the stories I write is done on my personal time.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

There was a lot of time and research put into Native American history, Manifestation Destiny, and the historical figures having lived during that time period. In regards to the history and the foundation of the book “Blackheart Mountain” itself, I purposely didn’t go terribly in depth with the history of how the world “fell” in my book, because how the world ended is really not what the story is about, and it would just seem like unecessary info to detract from what was going on in the story. I wanted it to remain a mystery, something for the reader to wonder about while they’re reading, as it is literally said in the beginning that the populace largely doesn’t bother itself with the history of how civilization ended so much as it does with maintaining the will and the means to survive, because they can’t find a relation to the two concepts. The going philosophy in this world is that the ability to survive has no reliance on an understanding of how humanity got to where it currently is(and in a way, that kind of mirrors today’s world). With forming the image and the history of the Tuskatawa, a tribe of survivors claiming to be the direct, albeit long and far-off ancestors of the native americans who were massacred long ago and far away, I wanted to make sure their culture was as concrete and concise as possible, from their funeral processions and how they handled their dead to their food recipes, their stance on violence, and exceptions to their own Law. In the end, I took from the behaviorisms and cultures of several different tribes, combining them into one, as at the heart of the Tuskatawa is their combined bloodlines of every tribe to have existed in the past. I picked up a half dozen books on the history of native americans and spent a decent amount of time reading just to familiarize myself with where the Tuskatawa “came from”. The title “Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain” is actually a spin on “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee”. Being that this takes place two decades before “Mercy”, the only real challenge I had was making sure nothing spoken about in “Mercy” contradicted the events that are taking place in this new novel, particularly with the main characters Rancid Mahoney and Til Drange. I’ll have the same task when writing the next book in the series.

While editing writers often have to remove things they want to keep in but just can’t for various reasons. What was the hardest scene for you to cut from this book?

I actually didn’t cut anything, but rather added a few scenes and expansions to dialogue to flesh out the character development of Mahoney a little better. Very rarely will I ever cut out material while editing, unless it’s just that awful, or during the course of writing I decided to change something about a character later on in the story that would have to be supported by something that happened earlier on. Most of the time, the first draft ends up being a pretty bland, almost point for point blueprint, more than an actual cohesive story. I use the editing phase to sort of “fill in the blanks”, and oftentimes it feels as if the first draft I wrote is a movie or a book someone else created that I’m changing to make better in my eyes.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

“When the world ended, people eventually regained their footing, but that was a long time ago. We have come so far since then. We still have so much farther to go…”
Two decades before the bloodstained events of the novella “MERCY”, Rancid Mahoney is commissioned by Gunther Ostrander: purveyor of opportunity and Head Prospector of New Canterton, a mining settlement located in what was once, but long forgotten as, the heart of the American Northwest. Mahoney is tasked with scouring the land in an attempt to locate Blackheart Mountain: the source of “Blackvein”, the heavily romanticized miracle mineral rumored to be able to enhance the human body’s ability to heal, effectively defeating death itself. But time and time again, Mahoney returns empty handed to his reluctant employer.
On the heels of setting out on yet another venture to locate the Mountain, Ostrander orders Mahoney to first escort the prisoner Til Drange to the settlement of Vermouth not far to the north, so that he may face judgment for crimes committed against the eccentric Mayor Henry Kenroy. On the way to Vermouth, the two are interrupted by scouts of the Tuskatawa Tribe, an assemblage of people who believe the cataclysmic event which put an end to civilization long ago was a sign for their people that it is now the time to take back the land that was once theirs in the name of their native ancestors. To make matters worse, Mancino Rolandraz, the deranged leader of the savage Crimson Collar gang, is on his own quest for vengeance under the guise of what he believes to be the only purpose worth fighting for. Spearheading his campaign for “justice” is an obsessive hunger to kill Til Drange, and anyone else who gets in his way.
It swiftly comes to the realization of Mahoney that a new war is not only about to break out, but is impossible to prevent, one which he must decide whether or not to take part in, and if he does, which side to fight for.
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