Up the Tower
by J. P. Lantern
Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn't be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go...UP THE TOWER.
Before anything else—before the riot, before the flood, before the gap and the deaths and the fires and the pain—before all of that, Ana just wanted to get the hell out of Junktown.
But she was stuck there with Raj, and Raj had all the bodyguards, so she couldn't very well leave on her own. Walk into Junktown without any protection? No, thank you. She had a knife on her, but that was hardly enough. The knife fit neatly in a small, luxury Cardion-brand sheath at her side.
The rest of her outfit was direct out from a fashion magazine. She wore tight black Cardion slacks, her patent leather Aushwere ankle boots sexy and stylish and perfect for inner-city walking. Her dark blue blouse was Cardion again (there had been a sale); already she had noticed the way Raj had been hugging his eyes to how it cupped and clung to her body. He would have been looking a bit more, perhaps, but she wore her favorite Kadaya Sarin-brand leather jacket, allowing her a bit of modesty with the long sleeves and tight collar, despite the thinness of the material. She was a woman dressed to impress, but also was no whore—she had her man. He liked her dressed attractive, but not like some slut. Ana knew what he wanted, because that was her entire life, as she saw it, from now on.
They were inside the ground floor of a tall building. Cleanbots rushed around them, sweeping up dust, guided along by retrofitted eyebots that spied out areas of dust and disrepair.
“Here's where we'll have the lobby,” said Raj, opening his hands out wide to the open space.
Ana had presence of mind to hold her tongue.
What she wanted to say was, “Really, dear? Here in the first possible place that someone could enter from the street? That's where you'll have the lobby? That's so inventive. You're so smart.”
What did she say was, “Oh! It will look beautiful, I'm sure.”
A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR:
Why do people love apocalyptic books and movies? I’ve considered this question a lot. Mostly I think it has to do with two basic parts of our life: ego and frustration.
Our ego is at play here because we’re all the protagonists of our story. We see some other people as supporting characters or (sometimes, if they and we are very lucky) as fellow protagonists, but most folks we come across are just useless extras there to add a little texture to our lives. So, we think that if some monumentally destructive disease rampages through the continents, or a meteor strikes, or nuclear war breaks out, we’re going to be some of the few people who survive. One of the things that human beings find it very difficult to be without is a sense of control. We live in a world where, for the first time the ten thousand years or so of human history, thanks to any number of weapons of mass destruction, it’s possible for the entirety of the human population to be completely wiped out. Fantasizing about what life might be like after we wipe out everyone is a way to feel some control over that situation, in the same way that you might fantasize about turning down a guy or girl who asks you out in the same fantasy where you previously asked that person out.
Certainly, my book UP THE TOWER is an expression, in some respects, of my desire for control, where I see a lot of potentially negative aspects of society feeding into people and I want to have some firm grip on how I think that will all shake out. So, with the ever-expanding role of technology making me feel like most everything I work on or with is more and more obsolete, for example, I focused a lot in UP THE TOWER on technology and the way we sort of self-identify with our abilities with it. This becomes very literal, with gangsters and celebrities literally grafting technology to their bodies.
I think also we focus frequently on apocalyptic fiction because of frustration, which ties into our sense of control that I mentioned above. In this country especially (the United States), it’s become harder and harder to believe that your voice is being heard by politicians who are supposed to be effecting change. You’ve got two or three Supreme Court cases now that say rich folks can just give however much they want to political campaigns, completely unhindered by regulation. The normal person doesn’t feel like they can compete with that sort of vast wealth, and when there are is a constant deadlock in the political process on items that need changing, a lot of frustration in the populace develops. More and more, corporations are taking the lead in making decisions for larger and larger groups of people, and that’s scary.
So how do you fix it? Well, you think about the world ending. All those old problems are gone. In an apocalypse, you may not be safe from roaming gangs of people with prejudices and guns, and you may not be well-fed, and you may not have access to good medicine, but uh, when you live in a country that makes those things more and more likely anyway, you start to think about what it would be like to take the chance in an apocalypse. At least then, with the absence of shadowy figures in the upper classes making decisions about the lives of billions of people, you’d feel a lot more in charge of your destiny. So, it’s no accident that in UP THE TOWER, a heavy portion of the book focuses on how the massive earthquake that is the impetus for the plot instigates a heavy level of socio-political change.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed "rugged," though he would also be fine with "roughhewn" because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.
The author will be awarding a backlist ebook copy to a randomly drawn winner at every stop during the tour and a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon GC will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during this tour. Use the link below to enter.
You can find his tour schedule at http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2014/07/virtual-book-tour-up-tower-by-jp-lantern.html