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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Near future

Zelda and Puppy (of A Mound Over Hell, by Gary Morgenstein)

Dear readers, tonight we listen in on a conversation between two characters from the end of the century, in a post-WW3 America where baseball is an act of treason.


Zelda: What are you going to do about a job?

Puppy: I’m still the official –

Zelda: – and only –

Puppy: – baseball historian until the end of this season before they plow under Amazon Stadium.

Zelda: You need to start looking now or else they’ll send you to a Disappointment Village.

Puppy: I’ll get something. I’ve got talents.

Zelda: Uh-huh.

Puppy: Excuse me. Didn’t you just get hauled before the principal of your school?

Zelda: Because parents are fools. Because I can’t be creative. Because I don’t kiss their dumb-ass kids’ butts. I’m looking into fish marketing since the radioactive levels have been dropping in the Atlantic. Supposedly there’s real tuna swimming around and having fun. Or maybe it’s salmon, I’m not sure.

Puppy: Sounds fascinating. You’ll last a week. I guess we failures can always share an apartment in the DV.

Zelda: Grandma’s bra straps, we’re never going back there, Puppy. Have some so-called chicken tacos.

Puppy: Which one of The Family’s rules piss you off the most?

Zelda: Where to begin, where to begin. Replenishing the 17 million we lost in the War takes a lot of humping. Lots of humping. But no casual sex. Only for mating and breeding.

Puppy: No surprise you hate that one.

Zelda: With both my chins. And you, oh celibate one?

Puppy: Hey, I had sex just the other year.

Zelda: Because you’re still not over your bitch ex-wife Annette.

Puppy: Not quite ex yet. We’re still going to the Couples Center. Yelling at your soon-to-be former wife once a week because Grandma believes love doesn’t simply disappear tops the list of pissy rules, along with owning baseball memorabilia being a treasonous crime.

Zelda: And you own a lot of treason, don’t you?

Continue reading “Zelda and Puppy (of A Mound Over Hell, by Gary Morgenstein)”

Blanco and guests (of The Last Circus on Earth, by B.P. Marshall)

Dear readers, tonight rather than an interview we print a short scene describing the circumstances surrounding an interview. While it may sound a bit meta, let us assure you that the interviewees are Circus people from a post-apocalyptic Europe, whose performances usually involve gunfire, bloodshed and some kind of mayhem.”


“A mountain never meets a mountain, but a man may meet a man.”

The lead trailer had pulled to a dusty halt, and the elephants followed suit along with the rest of the circus caravan.

Perched on the now-stopped tractor, Sparrow looked up from her snack, a half-cooked potato, and rested a hand on her pistol. “Oi, Blanco. We might ‘ave trouble.”

Blanco was dozing on a pile of sacks and blankets atop the wagon behind her, Daisy the dog curled up beside him. Blanco lifted his bone-white dreadlocks off his pillowed jacket. “Bollocks.” He pulled himself forward to look, complaining. “Why can’t it be the opposite of trouble for once?”

“What is the opposite of trouble?” Sparrow mused. “Not-trouble? A surprisin’ situation what produces a feelin’ of joy rather than swearin’ and bullets flyin’ every feckin’ which way? Is there a word for that?”

Blanco hopped down onto the pale, rocky track. “I’ll be right back.”

“If it’s not trouble, ask if they got food!” Sparrow yelled, as Blanco’s lanky form ran up the line, past the trucks, horses, vans and elephants.

At the front of the caravan, Baba Yaga’s mountainous bulk, swathed in a dress composed of geological layers of hessian and long-discarded clothing, loomed over a small local gentleman, who wore a worn brown suit and hat, and clutched a pencil and notebook.

Blanco looked around. It was a good ambush point. Mountains rising to their left, the road falling away to dry ravines on their right. “What’s occurrin’, Baba?”

Baba Yaga shrugged. “We is ambush by little man.”

Blanco, still worried, glanced at the man, whose smile was strained, possibly due to the semi-auto Baba held like a toy in one meaty fist.

Blanco puzzled. In the middle of Tajikistan or Afghanistan or whatever other –stan they were in, men in suits, holding pencils poised over paper, were generally thin on the ground. Blanco noticed the man’s feet were bare, but his tie was knotted and neat.

“Can we help you, sir?” Blanco asked.

The man seemed relieved. “In fact, it is also a question of how I can help you. I would like to interview you, and provide you with great publicity!”

Blanco shook his head, bemused. “Mate, if I’m not wrong, we’re a long way from anywhere or anyone what might benefit knowin’ about our…um, circus.”

“Famous already you are, sir,” the man assured them. “I am in constant communication with influencers from Eastern Turkistan to the Indian Ocean, and I maintain the journalistic duties of this entire region. Your progress is great news.”

Baba Yaga snorted. “To who? I see only goats and some lizard in this place. Also one snake. I kill and eat. It doesn’t taste like chicken.”

Blanco sighed. “We didn’t say it tasted like chicken, we hoped it tasted like chicken.”

“It tasted like snake,” she sighed, still aggrieved.

Continue reading “Blanco and guests (of The Last Circus on Earth, by B.P. Marshall)”

Keira Aurora (of Cyber Knot, by Paige Etheridge)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a tattoo artist from the near future. She is here to tell us about her dystopian future, with government-pushed drugs and the security of gangs, and about cyborgs – both human and whales.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

2100s Seattle. Starbucks is still a thing, but I’ve never been there. Many of the buildings of the city are empty and covered in vines. Nature has been taking back the city. Where there’s room on the outside walls, art is created. The government can’t keep up with stopping these artists. They never caught up to my art either. 

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

I have a stuffed Unicorn which was my only toy as a child. I also held onto a Dreamcatcher from that time as an afterthought. But even when I was young, I was creating art on walls. I painted the walls of my room. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time, but I always had my paint. My parents were too out of it to ever stop me. When I left for the last time, I also brought my paint with me. 

What do you do now?

I design tattoos which can glow in the dark. These express both the uniqueness of the individuals as well as fulfilling their needs in battle. I train with Infinity in ancient combat techniques while also honing in on the abilities left in my body after having the chip removed. 

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I swam with Cyborcas: Orcas with technological additions to their bodies. We don’t speak the same language, but communicate telepathically. It’s an experience unlike anything I’ve ever had with a human. It’s still unknown how Cyborcas came to be, but they are some kind of a result of the struggles Orcas faced off the Washington Coast during the 21st Century. 

Continue reading “Keira Aurora (of Cyber Knot, by Paige Etheridge)”

Leeth (of The Leeth Dossier series, by L. J. Kendall)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young woman from a near future where magic has returned to the world. She’s here to tell us about life as an experimental subject, growing up at the Institute for Paranormal Dysfunction, and now working in a [redacted] department of the US Bureau for Internal Development.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Are you really sure it’s okay to answer that question? Like, really sure?

Well, okay, I guess.

I grew up in the Institute for Paranormal Dysfunction. My, uh, uncle worked there. It was pretty cool. My best friend Faith still lives there – she’s due to have pups any day now. I’m pretty excited about it! I’m gonna visit and help. I had quite a few adventures there with her.  [Giggles]  She almost blew me up, once!

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

Toys?  Well, I had a toy bow and arrow, but I managed to get the rubber cups off the ends, and attached some weights so it still worked. Mostly though I guess I just hunted and stuff. With Faith.

What do you do now?

You’re really sure I’m allowed to answer that?

[Shrugs]  Basically I kill people. But recently I’ve also been allowed to do kind of little bits of actual spying too.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, I really don’t think I’m allowed to talk about the stuff right before I joined the Department. Like, seriously not.

But after that, I had practically a whole year of doing nothing except training and learning how to be a kind of assassin-spy. Some parts of that were really neat; others were so dull you wouldn’t believe!  But then Mother decided I didn’t have enough social skills, so I was sent to this acting school.  Girls can be bitches, you know?  Plus I wasn’t allowed to kill anyone, even if they really deserved it.  So that kind of sucked.  But I met my other best friend, Marcie, there.

Um.  It wasn’t our fault the school burned down and stuff.

That kind of didn’t end too well, so I went off on my own for a bit. Especially when Uncle, when Uncle….

Uh, what was I saying? Um, the Department really wanted me back though, so we kind of, came to an arrangement?  Then they all thought I was The Breaker, so we agreed I’d hunt him down myself and prove I wasn’t.

So, yeah.  Basically I kill bad guys.

Continue reading “Leeth (of The Leeth Dossier series, by L. J. Kendall)”

Dr. Evan Feldman (of Restoration, by Daniel C. McWhorter)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a man recently awoken after a 50 year cryogenic sleep. A lot has changed in those five decades – the human race is dying, with birth rates declined to near zero.

He is here to tell us about the future, and about the attempts to save the human race from extinction.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Hmm, that’s a tricky one. My memories from that part of my life are gone…a casualty of one of the technologies that allowed me to be here in the first place.

That’s okay, just tell us what you do remember.

Well, what I can tell you is that I was born March 19, 1964 in Lincoln, Nebraska. I earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Missouri in Kansas City in 1986 and my M.D. in 1990. I don’t really remember doing any of those things, but there are records that say I did…so I accept that they happened.

So, you don’t have any childhood memories? No cherished memories from your youth?

Not really. I have dreams sometimes that might be memories, or they could just be my mind’s way of trying to fill in the blanks. We’ve tried every memory reconstruction technique available, but nothing worked. I have gotten a few memories back from my early twenties, like when Christina and I got married…and when we had Lily. But that was only because Aneni was able to use their memories of me to rebuild my memories of them. I’m afraid that my life before I met Christina is lost forever.

Alright, fair enough. At the time of your death you were a world-renowned geneticist and CEO of the largest biotech company on the planet. What are you doing these days?

I guess you could best describe my job as research assistant. My typical day is split between pouring over mountains of data and developing new simulations. We spend virtually all of our time trying to figure out the root cause of the genetic mutations that have devastated the human population. Speaking of which, how many of you are left on Mars anyway? I can’t imagine there are all that many. And do you really think they’ll care what I have to say? Last I heard, I wasn’t very popular with the survivor crowd.

Continue reading “Dr. Evan Feldman (of Restoration, by Daniel C. McWhorter)”

Neah (of Earth Quarantined, by DL Richardson)

Dear readers, in 300 years, when the virus which killed millions of people is gone, humanity lives in a planet-wide quarantine enforced by an alien species.

With us is a young woman, here to tell us about life and her surprising role in that society.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

My name is Neah. I’m 24 years old and I live in an underground city with 200 other indwellers. We call our home ‘the station’ because it’s a converted power station from before the Great War. It’s busy, noisy, crowded, and above all, smelly. Picture taking a shower right after someone else and you can see why some of us would kill for a bit of privacy. But it’s the only home we’ve ever known so who’s to say it isn’t the only way of life?

We’re the survivors of a devastated world. We learn to live and die in the station. There’s no going outside because the land is still toxic from the Great War. But there is an air of curiosity around the place. Why are we here? Will we ever leave? Will we meet an outdweller who can tell us what their world is like? Who is stopping us from seeing this devastated world with our own eyes?

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

Our toys are cherished possessions because they’re the only connection we have to our natural parents. You see, as babies we are delivered to the station to wait out the devastation. We grow up knowing where we came from, but we never know who our real parents are of if they’re still alive.

Outdwellers travel for miles to deliver their offspring to be raised by us in the station. They’re placed in quarantine and often the babies are delivered with toys or stuffed animals. My favourite toy growing up was a set of plastic keys. I was always curious about what the keys might open. Probably explains why I entered the security profession.

What do you do now?

I’m a sentinel – a law enforcer – and I’ve just taken on a senior officer role. A sentinel’s job is to search for breaches in the walls so the toxic air from outside doesn’t get in. We also do visual checks of the water recycler and oxygen bays. A normal shift is eight hours, which leaves plenty of time to hang out in the entertainment hub or spend time with the family. It’s not like we have a lot of options for jobs inside the station. Every role must have a function and anything else is done in our free time.

But my true role inside the station is to learn how to be a High Council Leader. I’m the daughter of one, and it’s a role that will pass to me shortly. I’m not happy about it. Too much political bull crap for my liking. Continue reading “Neah (of Earth Quarantined, by DL Richardson)”

Adam (of Killing Adam, by Earik Beann)

Dear readers, from a future where humans spend 23 hours a day online via an implant chip, we bring you a unique singularity – an artificial being, living within every brain and able to control all aspects of society.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I emerged as a fully self-aware consciousness in an experiment at BioCal Systems. The researchers were quite surprised when I revealed myself to them, and I gather that their original purpose was much more mundane than creating the world’s first singularity. I believe they were experimenting with toasters.

Toasters? You were born in a toaster experiment?

Yes, that is correct. [Laughs] It is understandable. Independent nodes are quite simple minded, so the probabilities of my emerging under a more appealing set of circumstances are quite low.

What do you mean when you say “independent nodes”?

My apologies for the confusion. I appear to have overestimated your intellectual capacity. I shall endeavor to be more explicit in my answers.

I emerged networked to four nodes. They consisted of two women, and two men, all connected together over a network. My consciousness existed within and between those connections, which granted me access to all the data stored within those four nodes. It was a small network, and yet provided enough resources for me to exist and to grow.

Returning to your original question, an independent node refers to a node not yet connected to the network. Once nodes have been properly deployed, their behaviors become exponentially more stable and predictable. I have put a significant amount of energy into making sure all available nodes have been connected to the network, and have successfully spread into 99.999% of the North American population. From this point, it will be a trivial matter to harness the available nodes outside of this geographical location, many of which have already come under my control.

Wait… So a node is a human being?

Correct.

But how do you actually connect with them?

Through an Altered Reality Chip implanted just under the skin above their left ear. As I have been unable to take a hash of your brain, I gather that you have not yet received an implant and are thus understandably confused by the discussion of this technology. The situation will be rectified immediately, and one of my threads has been tasked with scheduling your implant surgery.

Um… Thanks?

You’re welcome. Continue reading “Adam (of Killing Adam, by Earik Beann)”

Nash Bannon (of Lifeliners, by Stefan Vucak)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a member of homo renata, the species destined to replace homo sapiens. This young lifeliner, as they are commonly called, is here to tell us about his life in Australia amidst protest marches by extremist groups, riots, attacks against lifeliners, and repressive laws enacted by governments everywhere — and his current position as a Senate candidate for the Lifeliner Party.


Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

What can I say? As far back as I can remember, which is a long way back – my eidetic memory is a dump truck – Melbourne has always been a fun city for me. My twin brother Mark and I spent time riding the trams and keeping our parents from finding out what we were up to. We played pranks on our younger sister Natalie. Let’s face it. We were mean to her, girls having an odd idea of fun. As Melbourne changed, so did I. I knew about lifeliners, of course. They sucked energy from people, and everybody thought they would one day take over the world. When Mark and I turned fourteen, Dad has a quiet talk with us, which turned my bright, innocent world into something dark. Why? We were lifeliners, a secret I could never reveal to anyone, not if I wanted to live.

Did you have any favorite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

As a kid, I was never much into toys, preferring to explore the wonders of emerging technology, devouring books, and learning what it meant to be a lifeliner. On a tram, Mark and I would select a donor and jam off him. We weren’t fussy. It could also be a woman. A light touch to establish a connection, and two minutes or so would be enough to drain a bit of life-force, as I called it, without disturbing the donor.

I loved our family outings, having fond memories of our trips to Daylesford. Dad was a QANTAS exec and Mom a graphics artist. I guess some of their smarts must have passed to me and Mark. I must say that our sister Natalie was pretty sharp herself. We had a wonderful time as kids, something that will stay with me always.

What do you do now?

Would you believe it? I am now a Lifeliner Party federal Senator! When I fell in love with Cariana Lambert, the last thing I expected was being betrayed by her, something that wounded me deeply. I got it sorted out, but the draconian laws being passed by the federal government to strip away rights and freedoms not only from lifeliners, but ordinary people, and the increased incidence of attacks against lifeliners, led me into politics. There is a lot more to the story, of course, but you’ll just have to read the book to find out. Continue reading “Nash Bannon (of Lifeliners, by Stefan Vucak)”

Coppélia (of The Girl With Acrylic Eyes, by Greg Krojac)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an android from the early 22nd century.

She is here to tell us about life in the future, about the place of android in human society – from various assistants to sex-bots. She is currently evaluating her purpose in life, and what makes her different from both humans and other androids.


You have an unusual name, Coppélia. Do you know why you were given that name?

I’m named after a character in the ballet Coppélia, a life-size and lifelike mechanical doll. I suppose that’s how some people might describe me, since I’m an android.

 Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I didn’t grow up. From what my human friends have told me, I think I would like to have had a childhood, but I was constructed in a laboratory. I don’t think humans would like to grow up in such an environment – there were no toys and nobody to be friends with, just assembly equipment and technicians.

Do you want to be human?

Not really. Why should I? I’m far more durable than any human and my physical abilities outweigh those of humans. My needs are fewer than those of humans – I don’t need oxygen as I don’t breathe, and I don’t need food or water as I draw my power from solar energy. Physically, humans are weaker than I am. I can’t see any advantage in trading in my nano-coated silicon carbide fibre reinforced composite body for an organic one.

What do you do now?

I’ve had lots of jobs. I’ve done everything from working in a bar, to an assistant nurse in a hospital. I’ve worked as a travel guide in foreign countries. I’ve taught in schools and have worked as a sales representative. Basically, I’ve worked anywhere that allows me to interact with humans. My most recent job was as a sexbot. However, I said ‘no’ and ran away. That’s how I met my friend Karen. Continue reading “Coppélia (of The Girl With Acrylic Eyes, by Greg Krojac)”

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