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.
Research (or the lack thereof) for UP THE TOWER
I didn’t do all that much research for building the dystopian world in UP THE TOWER. I did a lot of paying attention. I pay attention to politics and economics and Supreme Court cases; I’m a big fan of history and read it just all the time anyway; I watch a lot of documentaries and read a lot of articles; I listen to a few political and historical podcasts (Hardcore History and Common Sense by Dan Carlin being the foremost of these). But that’s about it.
UP THE TOWER has a pretty distinct dystopian society. The slum of Junktown models itself, in a gangster sort of way, after the corporate-dominated world that it sees outside of its small geographic boundaries. So, the world in UP THE TOWER has basically been divvied up between two corporations, Tri-American and Groove. Every kind of city is either a “Tri-American” town or a “Groove” town. In Junktown, the corporations are sort of hands-off, because there’s too much violence to try and control what’s going on. But even so, the gangsters who run Junktown see the power structure outside of their small world, and emulate it, because it’s working. So you have like, the “top gang” of the Five Faces, but then you have little sub-corps, or lower gangs, each with their own CEO, or gang boss.
You know, in a dystopian story, it’s not your job to be strictly factual. It’s your job as an author to be believable. You have to incorporate what’s called verisimilitude—the feeling of truth. So, I mean, a lot of the time, what’s absolutely true in this world doesn’t seem true at all. You can read a story about a man being sent to jail for not paying his debt to a credit card company, and it seems completely unbelievable in a country like ours, but it happens. So the idea is to set up enough factors –and make them real—so that you can start delving into the more unreal stuff.
So, dystopian stories are built on feelings of fear, right? They thrive on, like any story, communicating the deep emotions that humans have about the subject matter. And when it comes to the future, dystopian fiction is a reflection of our fear of the future. The future is naturally sort of scary for some people (like myself). It’s always in flux: you don’t know if you’ll get your next paycheck, or if that girl will still love you, or if your car will work, or if you can pay the rent, or whatever.
So as far as laying out a blueprint for a dystopian society, I don’t know that the method is much more than seeing what is evident in the world now, and then exaggerating it to a scary degree. The world of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, for example, is basically just the normal world with hugely exaggerated bureacracy to the point of authoritarianism. Or the nature of 1984 is basically your normal world with a hugely exaggerated sense of surveillance, and so on. Probably there is a very good dystopian story waiting to be written by exaggerating the prevalence of tumblr, in a world where everyone communicates solely by image feeds. Or something.
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. Be sure to comment below for your chance to win! Follow the tour via the banner at the top of the post to check out excerpts and other special posts throughout the tour. More comments = more chances to win. 🙂
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