Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Book of Eadie! Check out my interview with the author! Read my review here.
The Book of Eadie
Vol. 1 of the SEVENTEEN Trilogy
By Mark D. Diehl
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Post-Objectivist, Evolutionary Anthropology – fiction
Corporations control all of Earth’s diminishing resources and all of its governments, dividing the world into two types of people: those who unquestioningly obey, and those who die.
Most of the seventeen billion humans on the planet are unconscious, perpetually serving their employers as part of massive brain trusts. The ecosystem has collapsed, naturally growing plants have been declared illegal, and everything from food to housing to medicines must be synthesized from secretions of genetically modified bacteria. Only corporate ambulatory workers can afford patented synthetic food, and non-corporates fight for survival in the city’s sprawling, grotesquely violent ghetto known only as the Zone.
Nineteen year-old waitress Eadie challenges the hierarchy when she assists a bedraggled alcoholic known as the Prophet, drawing massive social-control machinery into play against her. The Prophet predicts she’s the general who will lead a revolution, and a few desperate souls start listening. How can she and her followers possibly prevail when she’s being hunted by a giant corporation and the Federal Angels it directs?
“Mutation is the hand of God.”
— The Prophet
“Sometimes nature switches the order a little; that’s called a mutation.”
— Dok Murray, Herbalist
“I have lived”
Outside the building where Lawrence had last seen Eadie:
A Federal truck sat parked in the street in front of the building, the shape obscured by its electric camouflage and the deepening darkness. The Feds must have captured Eadie by now. They would bring her out any minute.
Lawrence had no weapon. Gene-spliced Federal Angels were three times his size, and there might be two or three of them with her. He would attack them anyway.
That was just how it was with Eadie.
Lightning flashed and thunder shook the ground.
His brain felt so tiny and insignificant with the EI shut down. For the first time in his life, Lawrence was completely cut off from everything and everyone, but he had brought those Feds to Eadie and he had to find a way to help her, even by himself, with his own minuscule, disconnected brain.
A woman emerged from the building, heading straight for Lawrence. He ducked back around the corner, pressing himself flat against the wall.
She came around to stand in front of him. Her frizzy brown hair spilled over a bright blue patch on the shoulder of her beige overcoat. Her pale face was wrinkled and haggard but her jaw was set and her eyes were steely.
“You’re that student who was with the General!” she said.
Lawrence looked past her, trying to appear disinterested. “What makes you say that?”
She gestured at his uniform. “Not many like you around here. And you better learn to look around corners right, or you’re gonna get killed.”
“What? I don’t –”
She tilted her head to the side, holding her fingers in front of her face as if they were gripping the vertical edge of a wall. “You can’t just poke your head around the wall.” She imitated him, moving her head around her hands. “That’s gonna get you hurt. Way to do it is stand back from the wall and scoot your body out so you can look.” She did it with the real wall this time, peeking at the Federal truck from a couple of steps back from the corner. She turned back to him. “That way, nobody sees your big ol’ head poking around the side.”
“Okay,” Lawrence said. He gave a tiny shrug. “Thanks.”
“You’re gonna need to know that stuff, serving General Eadie,” she said. “She’s fightin’ for all of us, and for God! Gotta know what you’re doing if you’re fighting for God.”
The woman nodded. “The General. That Prophet, he told me. She’ll set us all free. Sent to us by God, he said, and when you look at her, you can see it. She’s the solution, and I’m tellin’ everybody. Gonna get a piece a charcoal and write it all over.” The woman traced a shape on the wall with her fingers, boxing in an imaginary letter. “E,” she said. She moved her hands, boxing another imaginary letter. “D.” The woman smiled at Lawrence. “You should do it, too. She’ll end all the misery in this world, and I’m gonna help her. Just like you.”
… … …
Brian pressed his back against the wall and slowly swung his head to the left, facing the way he had come, squinting and opening his eyes, trying to make out his surroundings. Only a dim silhouette of another half-crumbled building stood out from the darkened sky. He turned back to the right, peering ahead in the same way, but there was nothing visible at all.
“Ready to meet the Unity?”
It was not his own internal voice, not even the strange new voice that sometimes shouted from inside his head. This voice had definitely been spoken. Brian had felt the breath on his left ear.
Interview with Mark D. Diehl
What was your inspiration for writing The Book of Eadie?
I worked in East Asia for a number of years, especially in Japan and South Korea. Other American teachers assumed that Asia’s strict, hierarchical cultures would learn from us how to be free, that they would “catch up” with us. That didn’t sound right to me. I saw that Asia had always had much higher population densities and depleted resources. Now populations are swelling and resources are dwindling all around the world. Asia is ahead of us.
Ancient Rome built its empire by beating armies that lacked the structure and discipline of the Roman army. Now every army in the world is organized in a Roman-style top-down hierarchy, because those who weren’t have been wiped out. War has always been about the struggle for resources, and now that process is centered around multinational corporations that eclipse nation-states in wealth and power.
Extrapolate into the future and you’ll see that our destiny is crowded, bleak, hierarchical, and corporate, all to a greater degree than humanity has ever experienced before. I feel compelled not merely to tell people about what’s going on, but actually to convince the world that this is happening, and fiction is the best way to do that. I worked to write a story with enough detail and nuance to prove my point, and also to make that story compelling enough for people to want to keep reading it. I’m pleased with the result, and I hope you will be, too.
How long did it take you to write The Book of Eadie?
The Book of Eadie took a few years, because I kept returning to edit and get it just right. To me, though, the book’s message and the ideas behind the writing were more important. I can honestly say that I’ve been working on that foundation for my entire life.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least?
I envy those people who are in love with the written word. Writing must be such a pleasure for them. Most of my writer friends are like that, swooning as they share favorite passages. I don’t get those little tickles out of it the way they do. To me, it’s just hard but rewarding work, struggling to ensure I’m presenting exactly the terrifying future I see. My favorite part of writing is getting the book into readers’ hands and sharing the ideas that I hope might change our future. The book is not my canvas. It is my brush.
Can you explain the significance of XVII to the trilogy?
The number 17 is considered unlucky in Italy, even today. Back in Roman times it was written XVII, and the letters could be re-arranged to spell the Latin word VIXI, which means “I have lived.” The implication was that if I have lived, I am no longer living. In my 17 Trilogy, it is the human population of 17 billion that gets rearranged.
Most experts will tell you that human population is supposed to top out somewhere around 10 billion people, based on extrapolation of data showing that death rates level off while birth rates decline over time. Do you remember reading about Thomas Malthus, who around 200 years ago said that if population kept rising we’d all starve to death? We’re all still here because while he was right about population growth, he was wrong about starvation. Malthus failed to anticipate technological advances in agriculture that allowed production to keep up. The experts predicting that population will top out at 10 billion are erring in the same way. Genetic engineering is the most profound scientific advancement in human history, allowing us to change, and yes, even create life itself, and the science is still in its infancy. The manipulation of genetic material means that the death rate won’t level off; there will no longer be a maximum human age.
Of course, we don’t need to worry that patented biotechnology will cause Third World populations to grow in unusual ways. Poor people will probably follow the standard model of growth and death. Corporations, however, are immortal, and they will have access to the most advanced technologies. This means that corporations will be able to prolong the lives of valuable, obedient, and devoted workers, perhaps indefinitely. In my 17 Trilogy, most of the world’s 17 billion people are kept unconscious and wired into corporate data management systems, for hundreds of years. (Note that these 17 billion are not my main characters! That would be a pretty boring story.) Since corporations already control pretty much every remaining resource on Earth, this increase in the corporate population will choke out non-corporate humanity. Thus, it should be clear that we are evolving into a corporate species.
We are eagerly awaiting volume 2, can you give us a hint of when that will be coming?
Thanksgiving, 11/22/18. I was trying for late October but there have been unavoidable tech issues.
I won’t say much about the content, but here’s a hint: The fact that I keep mentioning ancient Rome in this interview is not an accident.
What is one thing your readers might not know about you?
I met my wife in South Korea, back in the days when academies there would hire anyone, even a hoodlum like me, to teach English. She taught at the same school I did, and we began dating. Her family was one of the most powerful in Korea, and when they found out we were together they beat her up, locked her in a room, and told her that they were going to arrange a marriage for her to the first Korean they could find, in hopes of saving the family name. She escaped at 4:00 in the morning and ran to my place. Eventually her family chased us out of the country with the police.
And before you ask: Yes, this is going to be a book. I’m doing a final edit now, but I don’t yet have a publication date. I plan to start sharing little bits of it online soon, so if you’re interested, please follow me on social media, especially Facebook.
Can you give some advice to aspiring writers?
I recently read an interview with a sci-fi writer who was asked about his influences. Everything he talked about was a different fictional story. I don’t understand how fiction can be inspired exclusively by other fiction.
It seems to me that stories should develop from real-world experiences you want to share with others. Sure, you can look at fiction to get ideas about how to present your story, but if I’m going to give you my attention for 300 pages, you’d better have something new to say. Before you write, go out and live, and think, and struggle. Accomplish something and achieve glory, or fail and endure humiliation. Whatever it is, experience it. Let it change you and make you grow. More interesting people write more interesting fiction.
About the Author:
Mark D. Diehl writes novels about power dynamics and the way people and organizations influence each other. He believes that obedience and conformity are becoming humanity’s most important survival skills, and that we are thus evolving into a corporate species.
Diehl has: been homeless in Japan, practiced law with a major multinational firm in Chicago, studied in Singapore, fled South Korea as a fugitive, and been stranded in Hong Kong.
After spending most of his youth running around with hoods and thugs, he eventually earned his doctorate in law at the University of Iowa and did graduate work in creative writing at the University of Chicago. He currently lives and writes in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
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If you read The Book of Eadie, I’d love to hear your thoughts.