Fiction, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Release Date: 2/14/17
Lesedi – in his country his name means ‘the light’ though he has never chosen to walk in it. A man who has been driven by duty to himself now finds he must carry out one final duty for a country which isn’t even his. He has finally learned the meaning of a phrase he had uttered much of his life “sucks to be you.”
This book is both stand alone and the middle work of the “Earth That Was” trilogy. “Infinite Exposure” and “John Smith – Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars” are the beginning and end. It was written in response to fans wanting a bit more of “the story in between.”
The first wave of nuclear attacks from both terrorists and governments has happened though the general public has yet to figure it out, most are too busy trying to survive to bother figuring it out. The predicted extinction of all life did not happen possibly because many of the first attack detonations occurred at our own nuclear power plants.
Follow his journey and those of the survivors he meets along the way to see if the Universe allows them a brief bit of happiness or chooses to squash them like a bug.
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“The morality of rational self-interest?” questioned Katie.
“Good,” said Lesedi.
“Good what?” questioned one of the boys from the back.
“She recognizes the two things are diametrically opposed,” answered Lesedi. “Rational self-interest is never moral. Many call it ‘Me and My Syndrome’ because your only interest is in yourself and your family, but, mostly yourself. It is exactly what you see right now. Looting, raping, and murder. Living for the moment and your own benefit without fear of consequences or consideration of any other living being. Are any of you aware of what the plaque on the Statue of Liberty says?”
“Something about your tired and poor,” said one of the boys.
“Huddled masses,” said the other.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door,” quoted Lesedi. He drove in silence for a while until Katie finally spoke up, “You memorized that?”
“When I arrived in this country I went to that island and sat staring in wonder at that statue every Sunday, weather and schedule permitting for the first year,” answered Lesedi. “Part of my job was to figure out how a country that had spent nearly two centuries not only living up to that quote but showing the world how to do things right could turn into such a piece of shit in a short span of time. Don’t get me wrong, my government had no intention of fixing the problem. They simply wanted to avoid it happening to our home. We have recently come out of Apartheid and could not risk a downward spiral into the septic tank America has become.”
“Could we stay on just one topic,” asked the boy sitting behind Katie.
“It is all one topic,” responded Lesedi after taking a drink of water. After another drink he said, “It just took me a long time to figure out. I’m not surprised you are confused. I had to spend a lot of Sunday afternoons sitting on an island staring at the Statue of Liberty to put it all together. The people who follow ‘rational self-interest’ shit on that statue with every breath they take. I’m sorry, but there is no polite way to put it. America became a septic tank because it is no longer run by Americans.”
“So you are saying foreign governments have taken over,” asked Katie.
“No,” answered Lesedi. “I’m saying America is no longer run by Americans. They were born here, but they are not Americans. For nearly two centuries America not only lived up to that quote, nearly every American believed it. Today, most people born here don’t even know the quote exists so they do not know ‘rational self-interest’ is diametrically opposed to being an American. I am told the followers of this belief think you should never give a meal to a starving man or child. You should never throw a coin in a beggar’s cup, and, most offensively, the government has no responsibility to ensure the welfare of its people.”
About the Author:
Roland Hughes started his IT career in the early 1980s. He quickly became a consultant and president of Logikal Solutions, a software consulting firm specializing in OpenVMS application and C++/Qt touchscreen/embedded Linux development. Early in his career he became involved in what is now called cross platform development. Given the dearth of useful books on the subject he ventured into the world of professional author in 1995 writing the first of the “Zinc It!” book series for John Gordon Burke Publisher, Inc.
A decade later he released a massive (nearly 800 pages) tome “The Minimum You Need to Know to Be an OpenVMS Application Developer” which tried to encapsulate the essential skills gained over what was nearly a 20 year career at that point. From there “The Minimum You Need to Know” book series was born.
Three years later he wrote his first novel “Infinite Exposure” which got much notice from people involved in the banking and financial security worlds. Some of the attacks predicted in that book have since come to pass. While it was not originally intended to be a trilogy, it became the first book of “The Earth That Was” trilogy:
- Infinite Exposure
- Lesedi – The Greatest Lie Ever Told
- John Smith – Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars
*Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey?
I had a grandmother and a great aunt who encouraged me to write letters as a young child. We didn’t have personal computers back then. You had to use pen on paper then put a stamp on an envelop. That lead to writing a few stories in school. At some point early in my IT consulting career the bug bit me again and I wrote 2 geek books for a publisher, not an experience I would recommend to anyone.
Once I had been working in IT for roughly 20 years the writing bug bit me again and I wrote the first of “The Minimum You Need to Know” book series. Quite a few books into that I wrote my first novel, “Infinite Exposure” which is the first book in what has now become a trilogy.
*How many books do you currently have published?
Counting the 2 written for that publisher which are now no longer in print, a dozen.
*What has been your favorite book to write so far?
The one I’m writing now.
If that ever stops being the case it is time to stop writing for a while.
*Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release?
Yes, I’m writing “The Phallus of Agile and Other Ruminations.” It is an offshoot of my “The Minimum You Need to Know” book series based mostly on the Ruminations chapters found at the end of those books. I plan on it being my next release but currently only have 120 pages completed so it will be a while. I guessed it would weigh in around 400 pages when completed but too early to tell. I thought my OpenVMS application developer book would weigh in around 800 pages but it tipped the scales around 800 when it was complete.
*What do you enjoy most about writing?
The satisfaction heard in the voices, at least with the fictional work. Every writer compelled to write fiction is just a wee bit insane. Characters appear in your thoughts and the ones which get written about are the ones which simply refuse to leave you alone until their story is told.
When it comes to my geek books the satisfaction comes from different places. For some, like the OpenVMS application developer book, it was the journey down memory lane. Reliving what, at that point, was a 20 year career on the platform and putting the important stuff in one place so even old age couldn’t take it from me. When I’m writing for a completely new area it is the journey of exploration. Those books are a natural result of the notes taken during the journey being organized into a coherent form.
*Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
I have periods when I do not feel like writing, but not writers block as most think of it. There are times when the thoughts are there but they fail in translation. By that I mean I have trouble keying them into a word processor. For that I have a simple solution. A stack of old and very different keyboards. They range from an original IBM PS/2 to Compaq to a rash of generics. The size of the return key, backspace, etc. are all a bit different as is the typing experience going from mechanical to membrane to whatever. The simple process of re-learning how to type on them gets the mental muscle working correctly again. Most of those keyboards I didn’t pay over $6 for. Many were free discards from client sites as they were tossing out old equipment.
*Have you ever had one of your characters to take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you?
Always. I write the story as the characters tell it to me. I’m not an outliner writing to some preordained formula.
*Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Least favorite? Why?
I don’t really have a least favorite. I have bit characters who only had a tiny portion of the story to tell me, but I don’t have any I disliked writing about.
Of all the characters whose stories I have transcribed I think I liked John Smith the most, but not because he is a likable character. The Universe screwed him before he was born and he carried the burden. People who only lightly skim John Smith see a cranky old man who is an egotistical know it all, kind of like Gregory House of the House television series, but, without the endearing qualities. People who read the story closely realize by all rights, he should have been insane.
Perhaps it is simply because those characters are the most persistent voices, but I tend to write about characters who aren’t good people. They simply recognize a duty which is theirs and theirs alone to fulfill. To understand this you must have seen “Schindler’s List.” By any measurement Schindler was _not_ a good man. He just happened to be _not_ a good man at a time when the world was filled with truly evil men and now he is honored. Had he been a good man he could not have done what he did to save all of those people.
*So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?
The scene where Lesedi is lecturing the kids with him about the Statue of Liberty and what it is to be an American. Here is a survivor of Apartheid who watched our world from the outside lecturing people who were born here on what it means to be an American and the philosophy of bad people known as “rational self-interest.” There was such passion in his voice. I can only hope I captured that passion as well on the written page.
*What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers?
The standard advice you hear is to read read read then write write write. While this is true as far as it goes, it is really a short step on a long road. You can also watch watch watch then write write write, but if you choose to either read or watch only the popular stuff, it won’t make you a better writer.
You can find truly great writing in some of the least known places. Watch the first 4 seasons of “Babylon 5” and really pay attention to the dialog and story line, not the characters themselves. “The West Wing” is an exception to the rule. This is one time where really great writing existed on a popular show. Again, you have to pay attention to the dialog and story lines instead of the characters to grow as a writer from it.
Most of today’s and yesterday’s popular television shows have really bad writing. I would put long lived shows like “Monk” in that category. Really popular shows tend to have one or two extremely popular characters. The writing team starts to serve the character’s popularity instead of the quality of the script or story.
When it comes to great social commentary one surprising show is “Barney Miller” from the 1970s. It was a comedy yet it had very deep social commentary which is just as relevant today as it was back then, sadly. I will never forget the story line about the man from the slums they arrested counterfeiting $1 bills. He would only counterfeit something like $146/month, the same amount he would have gotten on welfare, because he wanted to work for a living. Exploring the human condition in such a manner is a timeless and powerful thing.
*If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why?
While each of my novels can be read stand alone, if you want to follow the story from beginning to end:
Lesedi – The Greatest Lie Ever Told
John Smith – Last Known Survivor of the Microsoft Wars
*Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character?
No. The beauty of being an Indie writer is you get to tell the entire story and release it when it is done. The things you ask for are part of the large cut pile which happens when working with a publisher.
*Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books to read?
I used to be an avid reader, but now not so much. During my youth I read “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant” (first 3), “The Wheel of Time” and “A Song of Ice and Fire” but now I read sparingly, preferring to re-watch some of the greatest writing ever put to DVD. Having said that, I recently read both “Marsh Island” and “Blind Marsh” by Oliver F. Chase and they were fantastic. If you liked the Mickey Spillane stories or television shows about Mike Hammer then these 2 books are for you. I also read “Relic” and “Relic II” from Jonathan Brookes. Given the current news stories about cloning traits of woolly mammoths’ traits into elephants I found these books both well written and extremely timely. “A Dangerous Element” by Gregory Lamb was a great story about the Stuxnet virus. It has made me want to watch the “Zero Days” movie.
*What about television shows? Movies?
“The West Wing,” “Babylon 5” and “Battlestar Galactica” (the new one) for examples of incredible story writing.
“Downton Abbey” for examples of great character writing in a period. Normally I’m not a huge fan of writing which serves character, but, because this was a period piece and we all knew large portions of the history being covered it had to focus on character and the story of “common” people.
*Is there a book that you have read that you feel has made a big impact on your life? Why?
We are the sum of our history. When our history is gone we are basically nothing. This was the underlying theme of “John Smith.” Survivors who could have continued as they were, but had a driving need to find out what they really were.
There is only one story I could point to which made me want to be a writer. Stephen King’s “Word Processor of the Gods.” It is a short, magazine length piece which set me on my path.
*Can readers find you at any live events, such as book signings or conventions?
No. I am not drawn to those things.
* If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say?
I listened to the characters and wrote down their stories.