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.
Samson ignored the jeer, focusing carefully on opening the box. He was twelve years old and he did not want to screw this up; being twelve was important, and people took the things you did seriously so long as you did them well.
“Smellson, hey!” The Crowboy banged his crowbar on the dusty ruins of the factory line where they had set up the six crates from their haul that morning. “Don’t blow us up, okay? I don’t want to die with your stench clogging me up, yeah?”
Again, Samson ignored the other boy, trying to concentrate as he eased his longtool through the gap in the crate before him. He very well could blow himself up; he could blow them all up. Inside the GuaranTech crate he tinkered with was a copbot.
Copbots blew up all the time. If their main processors or power source were damaged, they blew up. If they were being captured, they blew up. If they ran out of ammo and couldn’t refill within about ten minutes, they blew up. When they blew up, they incinerated everything in about a hundred foot radius. The warehouse was not big enough for the Crowboys to keep their distance and still work in the role of protection as they had been hired. So they were in the blast zone as well as Samson.
The copbots, deactivated, were precious and valuable. Strangely, they were valuable precisely because they were so hard to deactivate. A copbot was made almost entirely out of self-healing nanotech, and with enough time, it could repair from almost any wound to its metal shell. So, to keep this sort of power out of the hands of the gangster conglomerate that ran Junktown, the Five Faces, and any other sort of competitor, the copbots had a very liberal self-destruct mechanism.
This is what Samson worked against.
3 Great Reasons to Buy UP THE TOWER
- Great Characters
The cast in UP THE TOWER is great. There are six main characters—a boy genius named Samson; his robot Partner; Samson's sister, Ore, who is a gangster with one eye and a robotic arm; a beautiful heartbroken young woman named Ana; Ana's stalker, Gary; and Victor, a cloned assassin. They each are missing something vital in their lives related to family. For example, as a clone, Victor never knew any family, and so when he meets Ana something very strange happens and he begins recognizing her as a mother figure. This need is so primal that he ignores the mission he's supposed to be on, and it's because of this strange firing of the neurons in his brain that many of the events afterward take place—he takes Ana to safety in the titular Tower and Gary follows Ana. Ore also wanted to get into the Tower to find her brother, Samson, but she wouldn't have been able to get in without Victor and Ana's help, and so on.
- Great Setting
UP THE TOWER takes place in a futuristic St. Louis slum. Basically, it's a few steps in the future—St. Louis experienced an enormous boom because of a process that was able to convert running river water into concentrated energy. At the same time, corporations kept merging and re-merging, eventually collapsing the governments of the world until everything was run by two enormous corporations—Tri-American and Groove. St. Louis was a holdout from this corporate control for a long time because of the energy they controlled, but the corporations found some other, cheaper sources of fuel, and eventually bought St. Louis out. At the time of the story, it's a Tri-American town.
Anyway, all this excessive wealth control has greatly marginalized most of the population all over the world; in St. Louis, all the poor people live in a walled-off area of the city called Junktown. Everyone there is a gangster, or trying to be, but all the gangsters know are corporate control. So there are no gang “bosses” anymore, but rather gang CEOs. Every gang has a trademark and a slogan, that sort of thing.
So, it's a fun, realized world that draws a lot from the world today and tries to make some slightly-pessimistic predictions about where we might end up.
- Great Meta-Fiction
So one thing that I really loved about writing this story is that it has a very post-modern bent to it. If we were to peel back the layers of narrative a bit, there's some fun stuff happening. The narrator is a historian who lives some time in the distant future. He has taken up the task of reporting this massive earthquake in St. Louis, which is the future to us (the reader), but is in the past to him.
At the time of the earthquake, everyone was wearing these sort of holo-recording devices, recording their every move (sort of like how we all have smartphones and cell phones these days). The earthquake in St. Louis precipitates this big economic and political collapse, and the whole landscape of governing is changed completely. One of the changes is a kind of technological stunting—people aren't allowed to use all the same technologies they were allowed to use once upon a time, including all of this holographic technology.
So, the only way to report what happened during this time is for someone like this historian to get a permit to access the holographic records and then write it all down. So the novel itself is his interpretation of what he's watched, over and over again, trying to make sense of this enormous disaster.I don't know, I find stuff like that a lot of fun. Maybe I'm just a nerd, though.
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.