A few days ago, I had the opportunity to talk about Through Stranger Eyes, my latest cyberpunk thriller novel, over at Lauren’s Bookshelf. During that guest post, I had the chance to talk about some of the pioneers (as I see them) of modern scifi and cyberpunk, as well as what my take on the genre was while writing Through Stranger Eyes. Here’s a small excerpt from it.
A lot of the sci-fi writers of the past, like Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and all the others, who paved the way for the newer generations, wrote sci-fi with something very specific in mind: the repercussions technology would have to our understanding of certain things. Things like soul and morality, both for human beings as well as the societies we have built. They pushed the boundaries, and in doing so I think they wanted readers to sit down and think about things. The way I see it, in every story they wrote, there was almost always an underlying question they wanted us to answer. And to a certain extent, perhaps even a warning.
When I started writing my latest cyberpunk thriller, Through Stranger Eyes, I wanted people to do the same about things that in my opinion are important.
I have great news! In a matter of days, on October 13, my second book will be out! Through Stranger Eyes is a cyberpunk thriller that takes place in a futuristic dystopian world created by a group of powerful and extremely influential mega-corporations, called The Matriarchs. Through Stranger Eyes is the first book of a trilogy that goes by the name, Matriarchs, Silicon Gods.
It deals with the events that changed the life of a leading implant specialist, Dr Rick Stenslandt, in ways that will ultimately lead to events that will be revealed in books 2 and 3 (currently under production). Through Stranger Eyes does not end in a cliffhanger (I know some people hate that–I’m not one of them to be honest), meaning the story has a very clear and definitive ending for the main character and his goals. There is, of course, an overarching plot that will come to an end with book 3, so if you wanted to read a cyberpunk book but were concerned it may leave you without answers and had to wait until the 3rd book came out, know that this is not the case.
Anyway, here’s the cover:
Flesh comes cheap in a machine world.
Doctor Rick Stenslandt has always advocated against the fusion of man and machine. But after a near-fatal accident, he is forced to accept ocular implants or go blind, end up unemployed, and without social status.
But something goes wrong. Now he remembers people he has never met before—influential members of the corporate elite that governs the world. And they have all been murdered.
Worse, it seems he’s the next target.
On the run from the police and a pair of augmented assassins, Rick seeks refuge in the infamous alleys of the megacity. But to protect the ones he loves, he cannot hide forever. Now he must figure out his borrowed memories and his connection to the victims, before it’s too late.
This cyberpunk thriller has most of the things that give cyberpunk its unique aesthetic: mega-structures, mega-cities, high tech low life, scheming and plotting taking place behind the scenes, seedy characters who have managed to turn the digital world into their own personal playground, augmentations that change the very nature of human beings, philosophical and scientific moral questions that remind us of the works of pioneers in the genre many years ago, and of course a constant underlying mystery about who’s behind everything and what’s their angle.
I invite you to take a plunge into a dystopic world of advanced technology, of dark alleys populated by the outcasts social systems constantly leave outside, of influential players who don’t hesitate to treat human lives as mere pawns in a game designed to fit the goals of their vendettas.
Through Stranger Eyes official release date is October 13, but if you want to read a small excerpt, you can read chapter 1 here.
Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left is a week old. I was so stressed the past few weeks with this release as well as the production of my debut novel, that I actually didn’t think I would make it in time. But at last, it happened. It’s out!
Those of you following my page on Facebook or are in my newsletter, had already had a chance to read an excerpt of my latest short story. Below you can read the first couple of pages from Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left.
In case you missed it last week, this is the story of Joe and Lucy, a married couple of scavengers, who enter a derelict building to steal copper pipes, only to realise they’re locked in. Things take a turn for the worse because Lucy is claustrophobic and can’t stand the idea of being trapped. But the real problem is the messages that begin to appear on the walls, floor, and ceiling. More importantly, what the messages tell Joe and Lucy they need to do for freedom.
The Second Empire-style house has stood since 1947, but no one has ever lived in it. To the left of the structure stands a pair of dead poplar trees, their branches entwined like Graeco-Roman wrestlers. To the right is a pair of desiccated oaks, also with entangled limbs. The trees dominate the yellow-brown jungle that once was the garden.
An old Ford F-100 pulls over not far from the rickety wooden fence. In it, Joe takes a photo out of his pocket and looks at it. It’s a photo of the house, taken shortly after its construction, but it’s one without the trees. His brow arches up and he lifts the photo next to the house to compare the two. He nods and puts it back in his breast pocket. He then places his hand on Lucy’s knee and gives it an affectionate rub.
Now that the rain has finally stopped, Joe switches the wipers off, allowing Lucy a clear view of the building. As she examines it, a small knot forms at the pit of her gut that chases away the fake excitement she had up to now. Under the racing lead-coloured clouds, the house stands dark, barren, and wind-bitten. Almost on the verge of falling in on itself.
A small bulge on her throat goes down once and rises slowly, but she gives her husband a smile and hopes he doesn’t notice her discomfort. She takes his hand into hers to give it a soft kiss, and rests her head on his shoulder for the last bumpy and mud-filled stretch of road leading to the house.
They park the battered Ford in the overgrown gravel driveway.
“Looks ancient,” Lucy says. “No owners?”
“Nope. Unclaimed property for over three or four decades. Locals said no one has set foot here except one or two demolition crews.”
“Well, it’s still standing,” Lucy says.
Joe smiles. “Yeah. Crews stayed one day, then left and never came back. According to the locals, the place is haunted.”
She arches a brow. “Haunted?”
Joe waves a hand as if shooing a fly. “Rumours. Old people’s tales. I mean, really old, with more snow on their pates than teeth in their mouths and brains in their heads. They said the architect and his assistant vanished, like some of those who came to tear it down.” He opens the driver’s door and places one foot out. “You ask me, I say they all ran out of money, packed up, and left.” He gives her a toothy grin and steps outside.
Lucy takes a two-piece folding mirror out of her pocket and stares back at her curved nose, her complexion with as many imperfections as there are exes in her past. Ex-hairdresser, ex-phone saleswoman, ex-wife to an online scammer she married after a wild weekend in Vegas with a ton of booze and several snorts of the good white stuff. His treat.
Her gaze drifts back to the way they came, to the barely visible tree line that defines the main road. Then she eyes the dilapidated structure before her, and a weight settles on her chest.
If that enticed you enough to want to buy the story, you can do so from Amazon or if they’re not your favourite place to buy ebooks, try any of these retailers instead.
And if you do honour me with your purchase, why not share your thoughts about the story with other readers out there? You can do it by leaving a brief and honest review of what you read. Not only will it help me, but it will help others to find a story they might like (or stay away from, if you think it was bad).
On a side note, I have made some changes to my mailing list. Now, anyone who signs up for my monthly newsletters will receive a free short story! So, sign up here or try the link to the right (near the top of the page, under the search bar), and download your copy. Naturally, I won’t hold it against you if you choose to spread the news far and wide about the free story so others will know… 😉
Last week I talked about Rhetorical Devices and gave you a list of 60 of them. If you read Robert A. Harris’s post and went through all of them (of course you did, why wouldn’t you, when they are there to help you elevate your craft?) you probably noticed those you involuntarily use (as in my case) or do so purposefully. Chances are you use more than one or two, and it’s possible you have a few that are your favourites, either because they remind you a novel you read that stayed with you over the years, or because they added a little something to one of your works.
So, here are some of the ones I use frequently. See if we have any in common. To my knowledge, none of the examples I used here are used anywhere else. I just made them up as I wrote this post. If you know that one of them belongs to someone else, please let me know and I will take it down.
According to Robert A. Harris, amplification is the repetition of either a word or an expression by making it more detailed to draw attention to it. In my mind, amplification adds something poetic to my writing.
Example: And, oh, the sea, the vast, inviting sea. How much he longed for it.
This can sometimes be confused with Amplification. The difference (as I understand it) is the level of detail you, as the writer, add to that special word.
Example: And the sea, the sea that claimed her brother, would now claim her.
It is the repetition of a word or an expression, but unlike the previous ones, it usually happens at the beginning of successive sentences or clauses.
Example: If only he remembered, if only his memories hadn’t fled like frightened children.
Example: She approached the bubbling cauldron very timidly, very sheepishly, very carefully not to wake the fearsome guardian (for the sake of the example, let’s ignore the eye-popping use of the word “very” and the number of adverbs, shall we?)
It is the placing of a positive or beneficial attribute next to a negative or a problem to minimise the significance of the negative.
Example: He did crash into her, and her damage was greater than his, but he was willing to cover all costs and offered to take her to the hospital, if she were injured.
It can either be a word or a clause used to express irony or drive a point subtly.
Example: He’d enforce peace even if he had to kill them with it.
It’s the use of a clear comparable contrast of two ideas close to one another.
Example: The insect may look tiny and cute as a ladybug, but it kills faster than a nuke.
The abrupt end of a statement before it’s finished. The meaning of the statement is implied.
Example: If I don’t get the money to pay them –.
Usually a noun (or a phrase serving as a noun) placed next to another to give a description of the first noun.
Example: It happened at night, a dreary and bleak time, though George had no knowledge of it (here, the phrase “a dreary and bleak time” describes the night).
The intentional omission of conjunction between words or clauses.
Example: She was coming home with the unattainable. She was a champion, an Olympic medalist, a goddess destined for Olympus.
Example: She couldn’t get enough dancing, walking, running, living.
It happens when you (or your character) raises a question and then he/she answers said question.
Example: What would those at the settlement offer him, if he went there? A cut from ear to ear, that’s what (taken from my novel, The Darkening).
The difference between a rhetorical question and hypophora is that in this case the question remains unanswered usually because the answer is too obvious or to emphasise a point.
Example: So she would marry and bring that good-for-nothing in the house. Well, two’s company, three’s a crowd. So who was the extra one now?
Used by recalling a previous statement, only this time in a stronger or milder way.
Example: Gasps of awe and wonder erupted around the light, and one by one they moved closer to it. No, not any kind of light, a living light, a girl with a halo (taken from my novel, The Darkening).
Used to describe two very different things by implying that one thing IS another thing. Different from simile, that one thing is LIKE something else.
Example (metaphor): He had survived through another day, but had little hope of survival through the night, for hope was water held in an open palm (taken from my novel, The Darkening).
Example (simile): A face as white as days-old snow stared back at him, the flesh transparent, like tracing paper (taken from my short story Wisps of Memory, Published by 9 Tales Told in the Dark).
It’s the use of words whose pronunciation imitates the sound the word describes (Robert A. Harris).
Example: The room buzzed and hummed, first from his left, then his right, as though a thousand wasps that lay in hiding were now ready to sting them (taken from my novel, The Darkening).
A word, a phrase, or even a sentence inserted in the middle of another sentence, which is usually the main or important one. Those of you who frequent my blog must have noticed how often I use it. If you’re looking for an example, scroll up at the first paragraph of this post. Note that Parenthesis doesn’t force you to use brackets. You can also use dashes with the same effect. It all comes down to style and how strong you want the extra phrase to be in the eyes of the reader. Personally, I don’t like using brackets or see them in books, since they tend to drag me out of the story. Obviously, I have no problem using it on my blog 🙂
The representation of an object or an abstraction as having life-like attributes or human attributes.
Example: The derelict house groaned and creaked, as it settled its beams and walls in a more comfortable position against the wind (taken from my novel, The Darkening).
Example: Liberty called for them to fight to the bitter end.
It’s the opposite of Asyndeton (see above). Here, words are joined together by the use of conjunctions.
Example: The kids ran, and played hide-and-seek, and laughed, and tormented the poor old nanny.
These are the ones I tend to use in almost all my works. You can say I’m partial to them for some reason. Turns out I use quite a few of them. How many from the list of 60 do you use more often than others?
Who are you? What are you doing here? Wait, wait, don’t kill me! I just want some food, that’s all. Stay back, don’t come closer. I’ll… I’ll… I’ll stab you, I swear it. The glass will cut you in no time, you hear? Stay back. That’s better. I don’t want to hurt you, but I will if I have to. All I want is some food. Do you have any? Look, I’m not going to hurt you, unless you attack me, okay? What’s that? What’s that in your hand? Is it… is it food? Just that? Half a raw rat? Okay. I’m so hungry. Feels like I haven’t eaten in days.
Why are you looking at me like that? No, I don’t know why I am like that. I just am. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. You’re the first person I’ve seen in days. Everything is empty. Not a single soul for miles. What’s going on? I saw houses and farms on my way here, but there was no one living there. It’s as if everyone vanished. I thought this place was empty, was looking for something to eat and a place to sleep. I didn’t mean to scare you.
I came by a house on my way here. It was a big white house, with two rows of windows, all of them smashed though, and the place looked like it was about to fall apart. I went inside, called for help. I was hungry. They had a pen but there were no animals. Some chickens ran around free, but I couldn’t catch any of them. Fast birds. I saw… I saw remains, bones and… and… What happened? On my way here, I saw a wide road, full of rusted cars and everyone in them…
There are big structures to the east, I saw them on my way here. Maybe we could go there and look for food or other surv –
What’s your name? I… I don’t know my name. I can’t remember anything, except the last couple of days. I woke up in the middle of nowhere, and I’ve been walking since then, but nothing before that. As if I didn’t exist. Don’t go! Please, don’t go. Are you the only one left? Why are you afraid of me? What is wrong with me? Are we going to die too? Am I going to die? Are we the last ones? Help me, please!