Originally published 2016-05-07: Obedience within Dystopia with R.L. Daman | Spotlight Saturday Author Interview
Last October I posted about a writing challenge I entered hosted by an author named R. L. Daman. It was called “I Made the Darkness,” and I submitted my story, The Moppet Murders. It was chosen as one of the finalists, which was really exciting for me. He read my story and made a video that was uploaded to YouTube.
Since then, R. L. Daman has been a busy guy, working on his new novel, Supplicant, being in anthologies, and being incredibly far-reaching on social media. (Check all those out at the bottom.)
Here’s what he had to say when I caught him to pick his brain.
Show us your public face.
I have been writing since I was old enough to hold a pen. Supplicant is my first effort to publish a work of mine. I have written for and been published in a few horror anthologies.
Who do you write for?
The primary audience for Supplicant are those who love a good science fiction story that makes the reader question societal norms. Those who will get the most out of my novel are those who already do.
What can you tell us about the Age of Dissidence series?
AoD is a story primary about mankind’s place in the universe and how we view ourselves. Without giving you a synopsis on the entire story, I will give you what the world is like within the series.
Man and machine are slaves to a system that dominates them. Those who oppose that system are accused of being infected by the dissident virus. In an attempt to contain the spread of the disease, the UCA (United Continents of America) implements a number of measures.
The first line of defense is the education system which trains its citizens to be obedient. At the age of eight, children are surgically implanted with a cyberstem and AI. The purpose of the stem at that age is to guide the student to what is acceptable and to monitor them.
After they have completed the third and final supplicant test, they are fully accountable for their actions, and the AI switches modes. Everything they do is monitored and processed through the central AI, named Io. Punishments, up to and including death, for behaving in a disobedient fashion are carried out by the cyberstem, many times against the AI’s will.
Supplicant grade is the most coveted score in the UCA education system. It means near complete obedience to the government. High percentage scores provide the most sought after government jobs. The lower scores place students on the front lines of the insurgent war on the borders of the country, or relocation to an internment facility to be quarantined as a possible carrier of the disease.
The last line of defense are the Judicators. Those who escape or live outside of society are hunted by Judicators. They are powerful and highly skilled warriors who are specifically trained to fight dissidents. They beat their opponents before carrying out sentencing. Some are sentenced to quarantine, and others to death by attrition. They are the most feared and wield the most power in the UCA.
The UCA has complete control over every citizen. For national security, everyone is monitored on a continuous basis. Acts of disobedience are punished, however obedience provides reward in the form of a cocktail of drugs and peptides released into the bloodstream. Nothing is allowed to be written on paper. Everything must be electronic so they can change and adapt information without proof that it had been any other way. History, therefore, is what the UCA says it is.
Deviation in genetic norms are believed to harbor the virus inside the DNA, and are hunted down for internment in many cases, unless they show a decent level of obedience. They are still regarded as mutations and plague carriers. For this reason, all human reproduction must be approved by the state, and a license issued. Reproduction is controlled by the cyberstem.
Everything requires an authorization from the state to use. The cyberstem is a spinal implant that is housed around the spinal cord, and links into the central nervous system. It can send or inhibit signals throughout the body. This includes the ability for sexual arousal, but extends to almost everything in the UCA.
Without an authorization a person can not start a car, use a shower, open a home, shoot a gun, open a fridge, or any number of other things. The stem works wirelessly with these devices. Authorizations are given to citizens based on request, past behavior, and supplicant grade.
Machina and AI are programmed to do what they are told. AI differ in that they are programmed to have identities and personalities. If a machina or AI behaves in a disobedient fashion they can be erased and supplied with another program. There is no punishment for AI, just erasure. Most choose to do what they are told because they have no other option.
This is the world Aurora and her sister, Nova, live in. Aurora fears for her sister’s safety because Nova displays many symptoms of the virus, and frequently disobeys. Aurora fruitlessly attempts to guide Nova to an obedient path, until they encounter undercover Fae (Free Anarchical Environ) at Rezmont Academy.
They find out that they have both had a procedure performed on them called, memory soldering. Lies were used to fill in the blanks of their memory. The Fae are there to extract them and bring them back home. In order to protect her sister from the UCA, Aurora agrees to help the Fae. They discover the truth behind the UCA and their captivity.
How many books do you have planned?
At this time, I believe have enough story for at least three books, but who knows? There might be more depending on what happens in the story.
What kind of research did you do for your work-in-progress, Supplicant?
That list is a mighty long one. The biggest area I had to research are the scientific and technological aspects of the story. I read about quantum theory and space. How our solar system works, orbital planets nearby, and the possibilities for interstellar travel. I also read quite a bit about Nikola Tesla and his renowned experiments.
I had to learn a lot about genetics and robotics. I viewed articles and videos on everything from nano-machines and drones to modern day androids and artificial intelligence. Its amazing the strides we have made in this area in just a few short decades. I imagine that one might pass the Turing test within the next century if we keep up the pace.
I knew a bit already about psychology, human studies, and mythology, so there wasn’t much I had to look up there. I read a number of science fiction books in preparation as well.
Let’s talk about Grim Keepers for a second.
My friend, Laura Callendar, offered me a spot in her anthology [The Grim Keepers]. It was through working with those very talented authors that I gained many friends. It was fun to work on a project like that. I had never done that before. It began around Halloween, and I suppose that my advertising for the writing contest I was running at the time drew her attention. She offered, and I accepted.
I love horror fiction. I’ve read scary story books since I can remember. I regret being unable to participate in many more after that since I have redoubled my efforts into getting Supplicant published.
[Adan’s Note: Check out my review of The Grim Keepers.]
What drives your writing?
Injustice, primarily. For a number of years I saw what our country [U.S.] was turning towards, and I felt helpless to stop it, much like the helplessness Aurora feels throughout the story. I felt like I was caught inside a vice without a way to release the tension, and so I took to social media. Most regarded my warnings like that of chicken-little, and I was promptly ignored.
However, we learn through stories. Our lives are a story told by us, which we write every day. The only thing I have wanted to do since I was a child was be an author. Nothing else felt as flavorful. I couldn’t dance to life like I can when I am typing away at a story. I turned to that love of writing to help me show the world as I see it going.
I had written other stories, but this had a purpose. This story has a message that I want to share with everyone – a message and a warning. If we do not stop the progression of violence towards each other soon then we will see the UCA rise in one form or fashion, if it hasn’t already begun to do so already.
Do you have a writing hideout?
I am a guerrilla writer. I write when I walk after lunch by listening to music and thinking about my story. I write when I am on the road and I have Evernote to help record my thoughts. I write when I am at home in my seat or in my office. I write when I shower and when I eat breakfast in the morning. I write at restaurants, in coffee shops, or anywhere. There isn’t a time where I am not engaged in the wonderful practice of writing.
[Adan’s Note: Admirable! You’re a lot more dedicated than I am. Can I borrow some of that? LOL]
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