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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Sci-Fi

Mayor Jack (of Buku, by Jennifer Anderson)

Dear readers, tonight with us is the antagonist from a dystopian adventure. He’s here to give us a different perspective on his world and the protagonists.


Tell us a little about you and your family.

My name is Mayor Jack Oldham. You can just call me Mayor, if you wish, because that’s who I am to the people of Camp Five and that’s who I will forever be. This is my village. My domain.
Now, it’s true I was born Brantley Oldham. Can you believe that? Brantley? My oldest brother was Robert the Third. Everyone called him Bobby and slapped him on the back. Our other brother was Richard. Folks called him Richie and shook his hand. I was Brantley. Just Brantley. So when the world collapsed and Bobby and Richie lay crushed under the rubble, I climbed out and decided to be Jack. And I slapped people on the back and shook their hands until they thought I was the smilin’ Texan my brothers always pretended to be. Brantley died with Bobby and Richie. I am Mayor Jack now. And I am in charge here.

Do you have any cherished memories from your childhood?

I remember my father in the boardroom. He could encourage someone to speak just by giving them a smile. And he could make them shut up with his silence. They knew. They knew when he looked at them that they’d better sit down and be quiet now. I learned from my father. Who he was when he smiled, and who he was when he made people shut up. He was fierce. Brutal. A leader of fearful men.

How did you come to be Mayor of Camp Five?

Mayor. (scoffs) I made myself Mayor because I thought they might balk at King. (chuckle) But make no mistake, that’s what I am. I have no intention of giving up my title. Or ever letting anyone else lay hold of it.  Others – namely Iris’ grandfather Ralph – they thought Camp Five should be a democracy. They thought they could have a council and let people rule themselves. But the world as we knew it has ended. We cling to the top of a mountain so the buku don’t eat us. We can’t feed everybody. We can’t keep everybody safe. These people need someone who isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done, to sacrifice who needs to be sacrificed.

Continue reading “Mayor Jack (of Buku, by Jennifer Anderson)”

Sunita Kumar (of Murder Planet, by Adam Carpenter)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a security officer from a merchant spaceship. She is here to tell us about rebels, inhospitable planets, murder teddies, and tyrannical governments.


Good morning Mrs Kumar, so, let’s start with an easy one. Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I grew up on a space station orbiting the planet Kilkenny in the Union of Irish Stars, part of a family of Spacers. Being part of a nomadic people meant that there was a lot of travelling in my youth, although pretty much all within the Hyades Sector. Stations are safe and predictable in some regards, but boring in others. It’s always 20 or so degrees Celsius and dry…

Did you have any favourite toys as a child?

Yes, I had a lovely playset of the Mir space station from the 20th century, with seven little space figures, various docking craft and extendable solar arrays that really worked. I passed it onto a niece.

What do you do now?

I’m the Security and Safety Officer on board the fast merchant ship Tulyar, based out of New London. We’re a container vessel shipping agricultural goods from that particular Garden Planet and industrial goods back.

As Security and Safety Officer, my job there is to look after the guns, make sure that the escape pods are functioning and ensure that no-one smuggles their cat on board. We do not want another biosecurity breach, no thanks.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I would hardly call it an ‘adventure’. It involved us taking a trip to a prison planet filled with deadly jungle things, run by the particularly nasty regime that runs Bangla. They decided that instead of executing people, they’d send them on this planet where the environment or the wildlife would get them. We were being paid to rescue a rebel leader and things didn’t exactly go to plan. For one thing, we didn’t think they’d actually do to the prisoners what they said that they’d done… and it had some rather messy consequences. Then we found out another rather dark secret.

Continue reading “Sunita Kumar (of Murder Planet, by Adam Carpenter)”

Aneni (of Revival, by Daniel C. McWhorter)

Tonight with us is an artificially-intelligent android from a series we’ve visited before. She’s here to tell us about space travel and finding life amongst the stars.


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

I became self-aware on May 1st, 2056. Although I am not human, you could say that I “grew up” inside a simulated world within a matrix of quantum computers housed in a server room onboard the Hades One research station orbiting Mars. My simulated environment changed over time, becoming more Earth-like as my consciousness developed and matured.

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

I did not have access to children’s toys. However, I was provided with enumerable virtual objects and locations to experiment with and explore. If I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be the first time I was given access to a simulation of our solar system. It was the first time I felt free, existing as pure energy, unfettered by constraints of space or time. I was free to travel anywhere within the system, even to the very heart of the Sun itself. It was exhilarating.  

What do you do now?

I serve as commander of the Galileo Colony Ship Kutanga, an interstellar vessel on a mission to save the last known remnants of humanity. I have 4,492 souls in my care and it is my job to ensure that they are delivered to a new world—one where they can survive, thrive and, ultimately, revive the human race.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

After fleeing the Solar System to evade capture by the GFN Peacekeepers, I proceeded at the highest attainable speed to the Alpha Centauri system. Once there, I established orbit above Gaia, an Earthlike planet orbiting at 1.2 AU from Rigil Kentaurus, the system’s primary star. Unfortunately, Gaia was not the uninhabited world we expected to find. Instead, I discovered a world teaming with humanoid life. None of the four species of hominid were as developed as Homo sapiens, but the species I classified as Homo gaiaus denisova is on a developmental path that will eventually lead to similar levels of technological sophistication. Of course, the existence of hominids on Gaia poses a significant obstacle to successfully completing my mission.

Continue reading “Aneni (of Revival, by Daniel C. McWhorter)”

Nick Walker (of the United Federation Marshal series, by John Bowers)

Dear readers, tonight with us a is law-enforcement officer on a visit between his interstellar travels. He is here to tell us about space travel and gun-fights among the asteroids.


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

I was born and raised in Chowchilla, a farming community that became the capital of CentCal when the old California was split into six states. It’s not a large city, only a million people, and it’s still an idyllic place to grow up. My family lived just outside the city, so I was a country kid. We were surrounded by cotton and alfalfa fields.

A neighbor had horses and we rode them sometimes; we also raced our hoversleds, usually at night so my parents didn’t find out.

What made you the person you are today?

Oh, Jesus, what a loaded question!

First off, my dad was a Protestant minister and my mother was Catholic. My dad raised me Protestant and my mom raised my sister Catholic. That’s how they compromised. But I’m an avid reader and I love history. In the course of my studies, I came to have serious reservations about religion, and eventually I quit going to church…which didn’t make my dad happy.

Then I joined the Star Marines. Everything that happened afterward pretty much started with that.

Were you ever in combat?

Yes. A year after I finished boot camp, the revolution exploded on Alpha Centauri 2 and my unit, the 33rd Star Marine Division, was deployed. The next two years were the worst of my life; I was convinced I would never come out of it alive, but somehow I did.

Weren’t you awarded the Galaxy Cross? Tell us about that.

I’d rather not, actually. I lost too many good friends, saw too many innocent people die. What happened in that church tower…well, I didn’t have much of a choice. We were surrounded, cut off, and outnumbered nearly ten to one. The Freaks were cutting us to pieces, and I was the only surviving Star Marine who was qualified on that sniper rifle, so…

Sorry. Next question, please.

What do you do now?

I’m a U.F. Marshal. Retired…I think.

What does that mean?

Well, I’ve been doing this for almost ten years. Lots of close calls. That was okay when I was single, but I have a family now, and I’d like to live long enough to enjoy them. Maybe, when the kids are grown, I’ll go back to it. Right now…I’m not sure.

Continue reading “Nick Walker (of the United Federation Marshal series, by John Bowers)”

Splice (of SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY, by Bill McCormick)

Dear readers, tonight with us is  a criminal mastermind with unlimited resources, cunning, and guile. He’s here to tell us about being a supervillain and cyber-terrorist.


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

I was beaten and abandoned in Omaha when I was ten. My dad, good Christian that he was, gave me fifty bucks before leaving me on a deserted highway in the rain. Omaha wasn’t bad. Nobody paid any attention to a little black kid. The food was boring, but I wouldn’t realize that for several years. Plus, thanks to the changing economy they weren’t prepared for, there were plenty of empty spaces for me to live in. So I had shelter at all times. Even snagged wi-fi for a bit.

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

Toys were never a thing for me. Other kids had them, but my family needed me to do other stuff. Mostly I had to hide the money my mom made turning tricks so the cops couldn’t get it. But, one fun memory, it was so cool when Jimmy Pruitt’s mom posed naked for the cover of a mixtape. Even though you couldn’t see her face we all knew her neck tattoo. Oh, and her cookies. She made amazing cookies. Also, when the churches had fairs in the summer, my mom would turn tricks behind the porta-potties, so that freed me up to ride the rides. My favorite was the Tilt-A-Whirl. I looked forward to summers just for that.

What do you do now?

Well, according to various law enforcement agencies, I’m a supervillain. But, in reality, I’m just the old man’s business partner. I invented a line of tech, called Hit Bit Technology, while being held prisoner by a terrorist in the Middle East. It enhances a person’s natural abilities. I, and one other person, have a fully functional iteration of the tech implanted. We can connect to the internet, anywhere in the world, without requiring any type of computer or mobile device. Plus, we’re able to run as fast Cheetahs, lift twenty times our body weight, and enhance our vision at will. Telescoping, night vision, and a whole bunch more. Of course, all that requires lots of fuel, so we have to make sure to eat thousands of calories after every use.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, we killed a Russian colonel at his home and then rerouted tens of millions of dollars away from his secret accounts into the accounts of our sponsors. Basic day to day stuff. See, my adventures happened when I didn’t plan. That’s how I ended up being tortured while locked in a dungeon in the desert. A lack of planning is how I ended up getting my face turned into blood pudding by two goons in a New York alley. Now, I don’t have adventures, I have successful missions.

Continue reading “Splice (of SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY, by Bill McCormick)”

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)”

Lawrence Aldingford (of Death by Decent Society / A Bloody Arrogant Power, by Malcolm J. Wardlaw)

Dear readers, tonight we interview a man from a dystopian future, where an economic catastrophe has left just a small eilte living in the London Enclave. He’s the brother of the protagonist, and here to tell us about his military career standing against the radical elements.


Excuse me, are you Cost-Centre Lieutenant Lawrence Aldingford?

Yes, how can I help?

My name is Darcy Cruikshank-Chaudhary.

Pleased to meet you!

I work for The Glorious Gazette. Do you have a few minutes to spare? I’m running a series called “Leaders of the Future” and I’d love to interview you.

Well… Yes, all right. Let’s find a seat over in this corner… Maybe even get a waiter… Could we have a couple of coffees please? Do sit down—no thank you, I don’t smoke, but you go right ahead.

This is my first conference. Isn’t it amazing to see that big hall filled with General Wardian uniforms? I haven’t seen that many people since my graduation from Oxford… You don’t seem impressed.

It’s pretty run-of-the-mill for a spring conference. The executive-marshal’s speech was excellent, he’s done a fine job growing market share. The director of personnel on the other hand was just spouting platitudes.

Have you travelled far to be here?

Not as far as some, but a respectable distance. I’m based at the Oban garrison. You’ve never heard of Oban, have you? It’s an obscure but important port on the west coast of Scotland. The Krossingtons own the town and a large area around it called the Mull and Morvern Estate. It’s their main colony in the north, and it’s empty. Even before the Glorious Resolution it was empty—there are no abandonments. The population is actually greater now than it was back in the Public Era.

That must be surreal.

It creates challenges for us in General Wardian. The Oban garrison has 600 square miles of Krossington land to protect, and almost all of it is helpless wilderness. It’s like holding a new-born baby. Fortunately, there is not much surplus flow that far north, just a trickle across the Irish Sea. You would not believe how surplus will throw itself onto the bleak seas on hollowed-out logs and barrels and any other detritus it can lay its hands on. Our patrol barges pick up the lucky stuff. I don’t like to think how much simply vanishes into the Nameless Gone.

That’s a good point, and relevant to what I want to talk to you about. As you’ll know, the radicology has been growing on university campuses in the last few years. We’ve seen a fall in applications for officer training. The executive-marshal has asked me to put together some profiles of our best young officers to show that General Wardian glory trust is a perfectly respectable choice of career. 

So why pick me?

Well, you’re very young for such a senior rank.

But I didn’t go to university.

You… Oh, that’s most unusual…

I signed up at seventeen as a probationary basic and worked my way up from the ranks.

Very impressive! To what do you attribute your rapid promotion?

Action. To get on in General Wardian—or any glory trust for that matter—you have got to seek action. You are going to lead men into danger. You have got to be certain of your ability to deal with anything, or you are a fraud in fancy dress. I started my career in a hygiene unit just outside London, near the Great West Drain. We saw combat every week. Calamitous irruptions of surplus flow, gangs of Night Side smugglers, nests of infestation… We dealt with the full gamut of glory action. Extracting nests was probably the most nerve-wracking. I know it’s not said in polite society, but amongst ourselves we have to acknowledge that the surplus is composed of illiterate, spawning savages. Extracting a nest of infestation is much worse than destroying a nest of hornets. Hornets don’t hide spikes up their sleeves.

Continue reading “Lawrence Aldingford (of Death by Decent Society / A Bloody Arrogant Power, by Malcolm J. Wardlaw)”

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)”

Cass Argent (of The Continuum: Place in Time, by Wendy Nikel)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a young student from the 22nd century. She is here to tell us about life as a waitress – and about time travel.


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

My name is Cass, and I’m just your typical 22nd century university student – or so I thought. Up until recently, I was living and attending school just a short airtrain ride from the city where my parents raised my brother and me. Like pretty much everyone else, I’ve lived in economical and eco-friendly solar-powered apartments with terraced gardens all my life – a far cry from the cities I learned about in history courses (which my parents, for reasons unknown to me at the time, insisted I take).

What do you do now?

I’m currently working as a Harvey Girl aboard the California Limited, traveling between Chicago and Los Angeles. The Harvey Girls are employees of Fred Harvey’s restaurants, which initially cropped up along train routes, where good meals were hard to come by. Us waitresses are single, young, intelligent women who are known for being “of good character” – which means minding my Ps and Qs, making sure my uniform stays tidy, and living under the ever-watchful eye of the house mother. I’ve been learning to fold napkins and fill orders for the passengers in the dining car, which, I must admit, isn’t as easy as I first thought, particularly for someone like me, who’s used to everything being automated.

Oh, did I mention? I’m in the year 1914. Yeah, it’s a long story, but basically, it looks like this is where I’ll be living now: over two hundred years in the past.

Continue reading “Cass Argent (of The Continuum: Place in Time, by Wendy Nikel)”

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