AQUARIOUS RISING (In the Tears of God, #1)
by Brian Burt
On an Earth ravaged by climate change, and a disastrous attempt to reverse it, human-dolphin hybrids called Aquarians have built thriving reef colonies among the drowned cities of the coast. Now their world is under siege from an enemy above the waves whose invisible weapon leaves no survivors. Ocypode of Tillamook is an Atavism: half-human and half-Aquarian, marooned in the genetic limbo between species. Only he knows why the colonies north and south of Tillamook Reef have been destroyed, literally turned to stone. Ocypode knows that Tillamook will be targeted next, but sharing the reason might prove as deadly to Aquarius as the Medusa plague itself.
Ocypode and his Aquarian and human comrades flee into the open ocean to escape Medusa, until another Aquarian's treachery leaves them at the mercy of a killer storm. Ocypode must pass through the Electric Forest, where he faces nightmarish creatures and a legendary sea witch who becomes an ally. Finally, he must confront the cyber-ghost of the human he most despises: Peter Cydon, the Great Father who bioengineered the mutagenic virus that gave birth to the Aquarian species. These unlikely allies provide the only chance to stop the Redeemers, rogue scientists who are determined to resurrect the land by slaughtering the sea. Even these allies will not be enough, and Ocypode must decide whom to trust with a secret as lethal as any plague.
2014 WINNER for the EPIC eBook award for Science Fiction!
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I have heard other authors say that they 'hear voices in their head' and that is how they write their books: the characters are telling their stories. Not being a writer myself, that concept has always intrigued me. When some people hear voices, we get them medical attention, others end up becoming writers. Does this happen to you? How do you come up with your stories?
I've never thought of it that way, but that's a very apt description of what drives most writers to start the first story (and the next, and the next). In the beginning, it's more of a whisper than a shout: the idea hides in a corner of your brain and cajoles you, soft but insistent, daring you to try to catch it. Ultimately, no writer can resist that goad. You start chasing it, eager to see where it leads and hoping you capture enough of it to do it justice. If you're lucky, that voice inside your head grows strong enough to really come alive.
I write speculative fiction, so for me, the big story ideas usually emerge from a weird combination of unrelated thoughts that jumble together in unexpected ways. My debut novel, Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God, was born that way. I'd been reading (and worrying) about the science around climate change, and had also been fascinated by advances in genetic engineering. I'm a landlocked Midwesterner, but I'd always been intrigued by the oceans and how little we actually know about what goes in many parts of it. Those ideas started to intertwine. If the planet heated up and the land became more hostile to life, would the seas that cover two-thirds of our world become a refuge? Would we be tempted to tweak our genes to better cope with the changes transforming our environment? Most of our major cities lie along the coastline. As the ocean swelled and swallowed those cities, would Mother Ocean's creatures claim the ruins for their own?
The whispering in my head got louder. Part of it was the whisper of the waves, but a voice rose above that, a magical voice speaking a language I didn't recognize at first but that reminded me of whale-song. After a while, I started to understand what that voice was trying to tell me and began to visualize the speaker through the murk — a being part human and part dolphin, floating through the underwater ruins of a drowned human city reborn as a reef teeming with exotic creatures. I thought the place was beautiful, and strange, and a bit disconcerting. But I desperately wanted to explore it, so I held my breath and chased the owner of that voice as deep into his world as I could dive.
That's when the process of writing becomes a thrill. Don't get me wrong: for me, at least, there are days where it feels like I'm trying to drag coherent sentences out of a tar pit. But Aquarius became an enchanting world to visit. The more time I spent there, the more characters I met, each finding their own voice and relating a different part of the story from a distinct point of view. I bumped into a Guardian, a human sworn to help protect the Aquarians from enemies above the waves; I stumbled across a Redeemer, one of the human scientists who would do anything to restore the land to health. I encountered other hybrid species, like the Talpidians who were created as a genetic mix of human and mole, who built elaborate tunnel networks beneath the parched, sun-scarred surface of the land.
So maybe writers do need medical attention. I'm sure my wife and kids would say they know one writer in particular who at least needs to be medicated. But I think those other authors you mentioned are onto something. Everybody hears voices from other worlds in their imaginations from time to time. Writers just decide to listen and record instead of trying to drown them out. The more you practice, the better you get at deciphering what you hear, and that can guide you (and hopefully your readers) to some fantastic places!
Brian Burt works as an information security engineer in West Michigan, where some of his most bizarre flights of fancy wind up in threat assessments. He's been blessed with a wife and three boys who tolerate his twisted imagination and even encourage it. He enjoys reading, cycling, hiking, horseplay, red wine, and local micro-brews (so hopefully the virtues balance the vices, more or less). At every opportunity, he uses his sons as an excuse to act like an overgrown kid (which is why his wife enjoys rum, school days, and migraine medication).
Brian has published more than twenty short stories in various markets, including print magazines, anthologies, and electronic publications. He won the L. Ron Hubbard Gold Award in 1992 for his short story, “The Last Indian War,” which was anthologized in Writers of the Future Volume VIII. His story “Phantom Pain” received an Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Tenth Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. He's a card-carrying member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. His debut novel,Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God, won the 2014 EPIC eBook Award for Science Fiction. Book 2 of the Aquarius Rising trilogy, Blood Tide, is scheduled for release from Double Dragon Publishing in 2015.
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