As most of you know, I don’t get particularly political on my blog, for the most part. That’s intentional, because I’m not making enough money here to justify pissing off any segment of my fan base, just because we voted for different folks and have different opinions on the best way to do things in this country.
So it was with a bit of trepidation when I answered a call from Bob Brown when he wanted to put together an anthology called “Alternative Truths” and go all in on what the 2016 presidential election meant (or at least implied). Sure, I write political, but anyone who had paid a lick of attention to me knows that my politics frequently rotate around “sticking it to the man” rather than any one ideology.
But then a poster caught my eye on the social medias. Anyone with a bit of history should know the name Martin Niemoller, and appreciate the implications:
First they came for the scientists.
And the National Park Service said, “LOL. No.”
And went rogue, and we were all, like “I was not expecting the Park Rangers to lead the Resistance. None of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this. But, cool.”
So I envisioned a world where those Rangers had gone totally rogue. But I didn’t set it during the war those men and women would have fought. That would be too easy. People would argue every jit and tittle I wrote. So I put it thirty-five years into the future, the winter of 2052-2053 CE. After things had broken down and started to be set to rights.
And for a narrator, I picked a kid who wants to grow up and be a Park Ranger. An 025, to use the technical parlance.
Never set out to write a Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian SciFi Western, but you know how these things sneak up on you. And I sent it off to Bob, figuring it would be way too weird, considering how topical and political the rest of his planned anthology was going to get. (I know a lot of those folks, and met a bunch more as we chatted on social media during all this. I was going to be an outlier, any way you cut it.)
Bob surprised me by taking the story, but he’s got a soft spot for cowboys, so that probably helped.
The story surprised me by spawning four quick sequels, picking up from the end of “The Last Ranger” (which is the one in Alternative Truths), and carrying Dale Embry forward into the spring of 2053, a pivotal time in his life, and his world, as the war between the Coastal Republic and the Confederated States has heated up.
So you have five stories now: The Last Ranger, The Maiden, Forty-Niner, Posse, and Refuge. It is an interesting world, because I never read westerns when I was a kid, and barely watched any. Had to do a lot of reading as I worked, so I could get a feel for what the genre required in the way of language and tone. (Not sure I made it, but I’m damned proud of the results.)
Didn’t have a chance to make it into the second anthology in the series: More Alternative Truths. I generally have my writing schedule penciled in pretty solidly six to twelve months out, but Bob cornered me over the weekend at OryCon and reminded me that he’s planning to do a book 3 at some point, hopefully with long enough lead times that I can write something he’ll like. Might be another cowboy story, as I have enough notes for a couple of novels at this point, or a whole passel of short stories I can put into another collection. Might be something entirely else. Won’t know until I see the spec from him.
Right now, I’m waiting mostly to hear from you folks what you think of the dystopian future. Think I’ve sold about ten copies of it so far, but that’s not unexpected. Most of you are Science Fiction fans, rather than post-apocalyptic readers. You read to escape the ugliness of the day, rather than to wallow in where we might go.
But I think you would enjoy these three reads.
So give them a go and let me know what you think.