The Chronicles of Spartak
May 2, 2016
Hardcover: $24.95 (ISBN: 978-0-9966473-2-8)
Softcover: $14.95 (ISBN: 978-0-9966473-0-4)
e-book: $3.95 (ISBN: 978-0-9966473-1-1)
Book 1: Rising Son
A handsome and resourceful young man, sold in slavery, becomes a warrior and symbol of freedom in the 22nd century, fighting for an America that used to be and might be again. The novel is fast-paced science fiction with a hunky hero, set in a near future at once familiar and horribly twisted.
The year is 2115. Sixteen-year-old Spartak Jones is a scholarship student at the nation’s most elite high school and captures public attention because of his athletic prowess and extraordinary beauty. He is kidnapped, sold and presented as a birthday gift to the teenage son of America’s richest family, becoming the first legal slave since the Civil War.
In his world, the middle class is myth, democracy a con game, sexuality is fluid, a space elevator reaches to heaven, Christian fanatics see environmental catastrophes as part of the End Times and a long dormant liberal underground begins to dream of returning democracy. When a war breaks out between the ruling elite, Spartak fights for survival, freedom and love, proving to be a lethal warrior, a 22nd century hero who will make you cheer.
“If you love The Hunger Games, and you want a bit more of a gritty and adult feel, you may love The Chronicles of Spartak, Rising Son.” QueerScifi
“A vigorous tale.” Kirkus Reviews
Dark and disturbing, uplifting and romantic, it is ultimately about loyalty, love and the human capacity to survive and triumph. In his time, class is the dominant reality, not race, and nobody cares about sexual orientation. It is also a cautionary tale about how today’s social and political issues, left unaddressed, could fester and warp America over the decades and create Spartak’s dystopian future.
“If he continues this direction of writing he will be not only entertaining us with creative stories brilliantly written but also creating superheroes of substance – and very fine attributes!” Grady Harp, Amazon (Top 100 Reviewer)
“I really appreciated the way a young queer athlete and a slave becomes a symbol for a revolution.” Vigilantereads
“A fascinating young protagonist combines the physical and moral attributes of both Spiderman and Superman.” Katherine Forrest, author of The Kate Delafield mystery series
Coming Summer 2017, Book 2: Freedom’s Hope
Book 1: Rising Son
The year is 2115.
America. Land of the free.
The Chronicles of Spartak—Rising Son is a fast-paced adventure with a serious political underpinning, the first in a series about life in the near future, just a lifetime away. Near enough that we have a sense of how it might be based on our current experiences and building recognition about how what we do now impacts the lives of real people tomorrow.
The story is told through the eyes and voice of a remarkable sixteen-year-old athlete, bound for the Olympics, handsome, famous, brilliant, bisexual and poor. The author takes the trends and twists of modern life and creates a future to give us pause even while enjoying the exploits of extraordinary, resourceful and resilient teenagers struggling to win and find love.
The U.S. Supreme Court gives the force of law for a practice that has gone on since the collapse of the middle class: poor, desperate parents selling their children to those better off, hoping for a better life. The Chief Justice explains that the decision is, “simply expanding opportunities for the poor, giving them more options, addressing poverty with a creative solution that does not require taxes or government interference.” Another justice angrily dissents, warning that the super wealthy, bored with diamonds and private islands, “will go hunting for human gewgaws” to affirm their superiority. “Why buy a painting,” the justice challenges, “when you can own the artist?”
Spartak is betrayed, kidnapped and sold, the first legal slave since the Civil War, a gift for the 18th birthday of the awkward and arrogant first son of the nation’s wealthiest family, Zinc McClain. But outside events and teenage seduction take unexpected turns. The ruling elite is plunged into a bloody power struggle just as radical Christian Dominionists raise an army to overthrow the government, touting environmental catastrophes as Biblical prophecy.
When Spartak and Zinc are marked for murder, Spartak proves to be a lethal warrior, resourceful, loyal, and not shy about his sexuality, admired even by those who want him dead. A long-dormant liberal underground seizes on Spartak as a symbol of hope for an “America that used to be and might be again.”
Book 2: Freedom’s Hope
Coming in early 2017.
The Making of Spartak
What should a 22nd century teenage action hero look like?
Facial features and color will continue to blend as they have throughout human history. Caucasians will be a minority, mixed races the majority. This is expected to be a reality sixty years before Spartak is even born.
I wanted him to stand out. A white skinned blond would do that in 2115. That look might also match what I envisioned as the white minorities, not necessarily elites, who continue to hold onto disproportionate power because of rapacious gerrymandering of elected districts and a voter pool restricted by law to favor those in power. These voters would not have to be rich and successful, only malleable for the benefit of the elite. And Spartak, distrusting the elite and wanting to see democracy returned to America, might appeal to the very people who keep his class in near poverty.
If you have not yet read the novel, these discussion questions may reveal important plot points.
Suggested Questions for a Reading Group: No easy answers.
A. Children born today could easily be alive in 2115. Will they inhabit Spartak’s America? Could America change this much over the next century? How?
B. Is the kind of economic slavery envisioned in the novel a ridiculous notion or could something like this actually happen? Restaveks are real in Haiti.
C. Was Spartak weak in accepting his harvesting as he did or should he have fought harder? What were his options?
D. Some say tightening restrictions on voting makes sure only legitimate voters are registered. Others say restrictions to make voter registration more complex disadvantages classes of voters. What do you think?
E. Is wealth concentration a real issue or phony? Won’t capitalism make it all work out eventually?
F. Is it conceivable the middle class could disappear? If so, what might America look like? If not, how would America evolve in a hundred years?
G. Spartak acted as a warrior in battle, killing enemies, seeking vengeance, protecting friends and family. Was he morally wrong or a hero?
H. Globalization is blamed in part for the collapse of the middle class. Does that make sense? Doesn’t globalization mean lower priced goods for consumers?
I. Is it conceivable the consumer economy could disappear? Is it good or bad either way?
J. Can religion change over time? Can it be hijacked?
K. Could a poor LGBT teenager be a mainstream American hero? Today? In a hundred years?