Welcome to the second day of the Cerulean Dreams blog tour. It will run until July 24th and will feature excerpts, new author interviews each day, and a video blog by the author. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this dystopian world:
Orion, the last city of men. Deep within the desert, a secret lay waiting. Young women found dead in the street. A corporation that controls the sleep of a populace that never sees the light of day. Alexander Marlowe seeks to unravel the mysteries of Orion as he helps a young girl, Dana, flee the city. The closer they come to the truth, the greater the danger that hunts them. Follow them as they search beyond the boundaries of everything they have ever known for answers.
A few questions for the author:
What are you ashamed of?
Probably by the fact that I slip into a place where I am ashamed of anything. I find that shame, guilt, and the like are not conducive to a happy life. Actions have consequences.
What's the loveliest thing you have ever seen?
Too numerous to count. There was an overcast and cold day on the Mendocino coast that stands apart. Something about the waves and the desolation and beauty of the sea was breathtaking.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I write little bits here and there. I’ve been known to dance poorly when people are looking. I am a Whovian. I love to watch foreign films and I have been known to publish a book now and again.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Editing, and when I am not editing, publishing. There are down times between bouts of being a pen monkey when I like to train and spend time with my wife, but writing (and all that goes with it) is a powerful force in my life.
Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
The night was a sweltering one. Marlowe sauntered across Messiah, which ran parallel to 48th. He watched the street trash as they dodged in and out of public housing.
Dark deals made in the false utopia.
The need for recreational pharmaceuticals survived the Water Rights War. Humanity had so many problems and seemingly such little time to deal with them; a chemical intervention seemed inevitable.
Messiah Avenue was a mosaic of shattered dreams and rundown buildings. They climbed into the heavens as well. Thick smog hung above their peaks, threatening disease and malnutrition to those who dared ascend them. The visor whirred angrily. Giving in, Marlowe activated it with a press of his finger to his temple.
The imaging module crackled, red lines inhabiting corners of his vision. The pixels spread quickly, forming a singular picture. Mountains far in the distance, the night air hung with stars and a brilliant mammoth moon that seemed to smile. Grassy fields as far as the eye could see and in azure letters, the words CERULEAN DREAMS.
“Map. Messiah District,” barked Marlowe.
The Messiah district was the grid name for what was lovingly referred to as the Hole. The image of the city shifted from overhead to a blueprint cast in a broad section of colors.
The voice was no longer feminine, but instead a middle-aged man. “Messiah District map incomplete, loading closest match.”
Marlowe sighed. The Messiah District was one of many districts that were scheduled for renovation through the Orion Improvement Program.
“Load thermal imagery and voice/facial recognition modules for Messiah District,” spoke Marlowe clearly, each word enunciated so as not to confuse the software.
A red dot in the corner throbbed angrily as the network was processing. All information was transferred directly from a feed at the Cerulean Dreams compound at the center of the city, but sometimes the signal was much slower in the peripheral districts. “7.93 million registered citizens, 7,930,001 thermal signatures collected.”
Marlowe smiled at the discrepancy.
There was no denying the efficiency of the network.
Every citizen of Orion was implanted in their temple with a motherboard chip from Cerulean Dreams as a way to monitor their wants and needs, cataloguing all information within the city.
Marlowe felt for the bulge along the left side of his trench. He drew his weapon methodically, the steel cold to the touch. His fingers were sweaty, his grip greasy as he flexed his hand a few times to get a grip he liked.
“Location of unknown thermal signature,” spoke Marlowe quietly, aware that there were other humans standing all around him, moving about their business. Had one of them had their visor down, his words would have sailed to their ears.
The software whirred again, the voice crackled this time. “Location is corner of 48th and Messiah, edge of Messiah district.” The voice paused and then resumed. “Upgrade immediately, network connection weak.”
Gripping the weapon low in one hand, he crossed into one of the back alleys on Messiah, moving past transients and shifters who held their hands out for charity. Even those on the lowest ring of society retained access to the main network.
However, their ability to function was still powered by economics. The visor controlled the monetary system, the pleasure system, nearly every function of being; sometimes even governing thought if one was not careful to step away from its thrall on occasion.
Marlowe considered disengaging the visor, but stopped suddenly as the screen filled angrily in row after row of crawling red script. Upgrade was repeated over and over again.
“System failure imminent,” crooned the fading voice.
Marlowe shook his head, wiping at the air.
“Command overridden. Upgrade immediately. Voice protocol required.” Had the visor been an animate creature, he would have struck it, perhaps even fired a round into it. He reminded himself that it was little more than an automated voice and a network of images.
“Fine. Upgrade approved. Could we please carry on?” he asked, knowing that his sarcasm would be lost on the programmed entity.
The red script dissolved back into a street map occupied by throbbing yellow dots that represented the people around him. He moved carefully across the alley until he came to the building marked on the imaging map.
“Deactivate. Upgrade in the background,” he ordered.
The visor dissipated and returned to a bobbing sphere. Within the sphere, a green light shone brightly, announcing the status of the upgrade. When it changed from green to blue, the upgrade would be complete.
48th Street looked eerily similar to Messiah, which was not entirely surprising. Lights were on in a scattered pattern across the buildings. Some citizens stood staring upward. Mouths moving, their visors donned.
Cedars Tower: that was the location of the anomaly.
There was nothing remarkable about the building; same black steel construction and tinted gray windows that climbed into the dusty atmosphere. Marlowe approached the steps. Taking each one deliberately, the thick grip of his boots found sure footing.
A man sat to the side of the double-door entrance.
His visor was down and his voice was a high cackle as he talked to himself. The words he spoke were alarmingly similar to what Marlowe was doing. “I told her that he was coming, but that girl never wants to listen.”
Marlowe couldn’t see his face.
The visors had a way of dehumanizing people, reducing them to a voice and a body covered in similar monotonous clothing; everyone analogous in their creature comforts. He hesitated for a moment, looking down at the man. Marlowe held his weapon tight in his hand, wondering if it was only paranoia.
“You talking to me?” he croaked at the seated citizen.
The man continued, as if Marlowe had not spoken. “Then he showed up and she wasn’t there.” A pause. “Yeah, I know, she doesn’t ever listen. Even her mama told me not to marry her. Yeah, she was too much trouble.”
Marlowe’s grip slackened on his weapon.
He moved past the man through the swinging double doors and into the darkened interior. The everlasting gloom that seemed to permeate from Orion was due in part to the draw of electricity to billboards and signs, as well as the amount of energy required to keep the network active. That coupled with most citizens being logged in the majority of their lives made the necessity for lighting in housing seem something of a waste of energy and time.
A few flickering lights cast shadows across the antiquated furniture in the lobby. Twin elevators lay at the far end of the empty room. No light resonated from them, convincing Marlowe that they were indeed out of commission.
The left side of the room was occupied by a large wraparound desk that probably had been used to welcome guests to the tower. There was no sound except the scratching of rodents moving about. Messiah district was by far the poorest of the city, and the most populated; almost eight million crammed into a few city blocks.
Many lived below ground, in the warmth of the sewers as they could not get heat in the winter. Food trucks no longer came into the district. Thus, they created a diet rich in rodents and other creatures that crawled or slithered deep beneath the city.
He moved forward through the lobby.
Chairs and couches were scattered around. Some were overturned. Others had the cushions and padding ripped from them, no doubt for shelter or clothing. Marlowe backed against the wall, the rhythmic hum of runner lights following him as he peered into the stairwell. The bleached stairs were covered with muddy prints; footsteps covered, and then covered again over time. Using his free hand to push open the door, he sucked his breath in: nothing, no sounds.
He moved through the doorway and closed the thick door behind him. Looking up at the flights of stairs, he sighed. The building was easily a hundred flights high.
“Activate.” The clear blue wrapped around his face once more. The emerald bar had nearly reached half, a little script above it scrawled out that it was 54 percent complete. “Site location of thermal anomaly.”
The visor whirred and the progress minimized, finding a place in a distant corner of his vision. “49th Floor, Room 4918,” responded the voice. Marlowe nodded as he looked up the endless flights of stairs and began his slow ascent.
Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here: http://www.amalgamconsulting.com/.
Would you like to win a copy of Cerulean Dreams?
All you have to do is comment on a post during the tour. Two randomly drawn commenters will be awarded either a physical or digital copy of Cerulean Dreams.
Visit http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com/ and follow the blog for a chance to win a Kindle Fire!
Visit http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com/ and follow the blog for a chance to win a Kindle Fire!