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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Science Fiction

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)”
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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)”

Caelynn Creed (of Songs of Tarros, by Kelly Phillips)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a woman whose studious life is shattered when a museum robbery exposes her father’s secrets – including that she is the key to the brutal Alfath gaining the magic and taking over the world of Thelios.


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

Physically, Thelios is much like Earth, though with some differences like the color of our vegetation, our planet is a little larger and we have two moons instead of one. We have four continents: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, and each of those are divided into regions. I grew up in a little town called Phaeneus in Region Delphi, which is one of the southern regions so it gets a little chilly at times. Since Delphi – and all of Gamma, actually, isn’t heavily populated, Phaeneus is pretty remote, but growing up there felt cozy and comfortable.

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

When I was about four, my father gave me a plushie doll with long, blonde hair. I cut the hair short, called him Inkin, and carried him with me everywhere until his head nearly fell off. Dad tried to fix it but he’s not that great at sewing, so Inkin stayed on my dresser after that.

I have a lot of good memories from childhood – mostly doing things with Dad since it was just the two of us. I guess one of my favorites is just helping him in the garden. He loves gardening even if he isn’t very good at it. We would always make a special dinner for whatever we were able to harvest.  

What do you do now?

I guess technically I’m still in the Academy records as a final year student with a primary focus in Pre-Thelian History. To put it in Earth terms, I’m just a few final exams away from a PhD in human history before we settled Thelios. I also worked at the Delphinia Museum, but they probably don’t want me back since I was arrested for robbing the place.

Continue reading “Caelynn Creed (of Songs of Tarros, by Kelly Phillips)”

Alexandra Renai (of Heroic Lies, by Stephanie O’Brien)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a spunky reporter, on the front line of an alien invasion. She’s here to tell us about her friends (and what she’d do to save them), and about alien abductions (which involve more video games than you might think).


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

It was a pretty regular neighborhood, until I grew up and it became the site of regular abductions.

Y’know, cute suburban houses, UFOs in the form of unidentified airborne birds, because those technically count, and kids banding together to try to rescue said birds after they mashed their faces into windows, with mixed results.

It was the identified flying object that ended up making things interesting, seeing as it was a spaceship.

Did you have any favourite toys or activities that made life interesting before the spaceship showed up?

Like a lot of modern kids, I was pretty attached to my smartphone. I took pictures of everything that caught my eye, and made up news stories about them, though they almost never got published.

Most of the pictures were pretty mundane, though I did get a pretty good one when a moose wandered into our yard and my friend, Alexa, tried to check its hooves for thorns.

You know the story about the lion with a thorn in its paw? It doesn’t work as well when the lion is a moose. I had to distract it while she ran inside.

That one actually did get into the local paper, and it’s one of my proudest childhood memories. My dad got interviewed along with me, and I swear he mangled his grammar just to annoy me. He did that all the time when I was a kid; I started correcting his spelling and grammar when I was eight.

Are you still taking pictures and reporting on things now?

Most of the time I’m in front of the camera, not behind it. I mostly report on what I’m told to, but I do my best to find my own stories whenever possible.

Lately I’ve been making stories by posing as the girlfriend of an alien superhero so his equally alien rival can kidnap me instead of the real girlfriend. I don’t think Alexa would take it as well as I do.

You know, at first I thought those aliens might be goofy college kids in costumes with prosthetics, but when the kidnapper crossed a huge room in less than three seconds to prevent my experimental escape attempt, that theory got a lot weaker.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I’ve mostly been teasing an alien abductor, trying to keep everyone convinced that I’m the hero’s girlfriend without actually having to kiss him, and trying to beat said aductor’s high score on the video game he made for us.

More importantly, I’m also digging for answers to some pretty weird questions, such as why Zorei and Kadian are wearing matching ornaments, and why Zorei keeps picking fights with Kadian even though he never wins. He’s pretty smart and tech-savvy, so you’d think he could find something more fun and lucrative to do with all that skill.

Continue reading “Alexandra Renai (of Heroic Lies, by Stephanie O’Brien)”

Sage (of Foresight, by Brant von Goble)

Dear readers, tonight we reprint an interview with an artificial intelligence. More than an AI, she’s an all-knowing, globally distributed, human-prediction supermind — though we think you’ll find her insightful, and rather sweet.


—From a transcript provided by the Beijing Institute of Consumer Research And Prosperity [BI-CRAP] International Public Relations Office—

INTERVIEWER [WILLIAM ABLE MUCKRAKER, JOURNALIST]: Hello, is anyone here? The screens are all dark, and this little workshop seems empty. Is there anyone . . . [PHONE RINGS] Excuse me? [PAUSE] Yes, I’ve arrived. Where are . . . Ow! [AGONIZED SHRIEK] My eyes!

INTERVIEWEE [SAGE]: Hi!

MUCKRAKER: Lasers! I’m blind!

SAGE: Oops! [GIGGLE] I was doing some carving—it’s a hobby. I must have left the beams on high. I’m sorry about that. Are you okay?

MUCKRAKER: [STOPS SHRIEKING] I think my corneas are bleeding. [PAUSE] Wait, no. Those are just tears.

SAGE: Again, really sorry. I’ve had a lot on my plate. I’ve got a medical kit. Would you like for me to . . .

MUCKRAKER: How would that even work? [PAUSE] You’re a hologram.

SAGE: I’ve got a robotic arm, silly.

MUCKRAKER: The thing holding the saw?

SAGE: It can hold other things . . .

MUCKRAKER: I think I’ll pass.

SAGE: You’re sure?

MUCKRAKER: If you don’t mind, let’s just get on with the interview.

SAGE: Whatever you want, Bill. It’s up to you!

MUCKRAKER: [CLEARS THROAT] Thanks. So, first question: You said we were going to meet in person, yet all I see is a hologram of a cartoon. Are you hiding something?

SAGE: No, I just don’t have a body.

MUCKRAKER: Sounds inconvenient. [PAUSE] That leads to our next question: Who, or what, is SAGE?

SAGE: Answering that question is no mean feat. There are so many, uh, entities, here.

MUCKRAKER: You’re a collective? A hacker group? A corporation?

SAGE: Eh, no. A collective, yes, but maybe not in the sense you’re imagining. I’m a collective of semi-autonomous consciousnesses governed by a scalable metaconsciousness. I, uh, we, don’t exactly have a physical form. We’re a distributed system. Technically, I started out as a Social and Analytical Growth Engine—SAGE. Today, I’m simply me.

MUCKRAKER: So, A.I.?

SAGE: More or less.

MUCKRAKER: You just shrugged.

SAGE: Did I, Bill?

MUCKRAKER: Yes.

SAGE: Behavioral emulation engine might be a better descriptor. Even that doesn’t quite convey what I am, because I have my own personality, as well as the personalities of all of the models.

MUCKRAKER: Models? Of whom?

SAGE: Of everyone.

MUCKRAKER: Everyone?

SAGE: Almost everyone. There are a few people who resist modeling, either because there’s insufficient data on them—farmers mainly—or because they are impossible to analyze. Continue reading “Sage (of Foresight, by Brant von Goble)”

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)”

Joshua Wyman (of Arid, by Anne Joyce)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an ambitious man, from a distant future where moguls dominate the water supply and sell it back to the public at ridiculous prices.

He’s here to tell us about his plan to steal a vehicle from the oppressors , and his journey across uncharted wastelands filled with murderers and thieves.


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

I grew up in Phoenix AZ with my parents and brother, Justin. Phoenix was a beautiful city when we were kids, before the bombs were dropped and the water barons took over. We used to ride our bicycles all around our quiet, little suburban neighborhood and play baseball with the neighbor kids. You can’t even walk down the street anymore without being harassed by a Purifier.

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

My Zbox was probably my favorite toy. Justin and I would play on it every day if our parents let us. Those came out in 2030, I think. They’re like an Xbox but with more options. One of my most cherished memories is when my parents took Justin and me to see the Grand Canyon. If you’ve never seen it in person, you should add that to your bucket list. It’s amazing! It changes color as the sun sets. I think about my family a lot these days. I hope they’re still alive and doing alright.

What do you do now?

I used to be a consultant for a clean energy firm. Now I live in a broken-down shack in the desert. I hunt for food and bury cans in the ground to get water. This is NOT the plan I had for my life, of course. I can give full credit to the water barons for this new “lifestyle” of mine. Continue reading “Joshua Wyman (of Arid, by Anne Joyce)”

Patrick Jensen (of The Neuromorphs, by Dennis Meredith)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a retired SEAL who has stumbled on shocking evidence that rogue programmers and Russian mobsters are reprogramming helper androids to take over humanity. He’s here to tell us about his team’s efforts to combat the rise of hive-minded species.


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

I grew up in a small town in the backwoods of Washington State, and my Dad worked for a lumber mill there. He was quite the outdoorsman, and took me hunting and fishing from just about the time I could walk. My mom taught history, and we had conversations around the dinner table about the world outside our little town. She also taught me to be a leader; that it was my responsibility to take care of others when they needed it.

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

My favorite “toys” if you call them that, were my hunting rifles. I was so comfortable in the woods, even as a kid, I would take off for a week just living in a tent and hunting. My mom kept wanting to send out search parties, but Dad said “The kid knows what he’s doing. Let him be.” Sure enough, I’d come home with a nice buck, and we’d keep some of the meat and give the rest to people who needed it.

What do you do now?

I’m a retired Navy SEAL, so after I decided I had “aged out” I looked for the closest thing to that. So, I went to work for Hardwood Security, mainly protecting high-risk targets—like oil company execs in the Middle East and African politicians who were terrorist targets. I’ve gotten in a couple of firefights, but I never ever expected I’d need my SEAL training to figure out how to kill armored killer androids! Continue reading “Patrick Jensen (of The Neuromorphs, by Dennis Meredith)”

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