I am at a loss to how we have come to where we are, and find myself wondering every day what it means to be an American. In the end, has the meaning slipped beyond our grasp?
It’s not just the mainstream political candidates that we have been told are our only choices; it is the vehement, hateful rhetoric that so many people I call family, friends and neighbors have chosen to employ to prop up deeply failed candidates.
Perhaps the most disheartening trend I have witnessed of late is the siren call by mindless followers that a vote for anything other than the Democrat or Republican is a vote wasted. It is contrary to everything I was taught at my father’s knee about what it means to be an American.
What have we become?
I was taught by my parents that it did not matter your color, creed or religion; we as a people are citizens of the United States of America. Whether you were Christian or Muslim, Jewish, Atheist or Agnostic; whether you were Heterosexual, Homosexual, or anything in-between, it didn’t matter. Together, we were Americans.
That America seems to have slipped away.
Now, we vote only for our own self-interest. What will the candidate do for me, my family, my beliefs, my community, regardless of anyone else? That is not who we were as a nation. It’s not what we must be if we are to continue to be a nation of one people. Our vote should and must be what is best for the nation as a whole, not just what one candidate or the other might say to stave our fears.
Ronald Reagan was the first president I have any true recollection of following as I transitioned from youth to adulthood. I admired him greatly. I served my country under President Bush and President Clinton, even though I did not necessarily vote for either of them. But in every president from President Reagan to President Obama, I have found in each and every one of them something that I deeply admire. I did not agree with any of them on every decision they made, but I did not sit where they sat, did not face what they face, and did not know what they know. Once the vote was cast and the decision was made, they were my president.
It would be easy to blame the political parties for the turmoil we find ourselves in. But we need to accept responsibility as the people of the United States, that we, collectively, have made our choices in the past to lead us where we are.
The political system as it is now formed makes it impossible for a man or woman of integrity and character to reach office with that integrity and character in place. Not just at the presidential level, but from the local office all the way to the highest position in the land, if you seek to serve, you must adopt platforms you may find repugnant.
We have allowed it to happen, encouraged it even.
I believe more and more every day that if the America I was taught to love and serve is to survive, the political parties we follow must fade into history. They are both corrupt.
The only chance we have is to vote our conscience. Vote for who you believe will best serve us, regardless of whether they are running for office or not. Draft them, if you must. Vote and let your voice be heard, that we will not accept anything less than the best we are, as a people, to represent us, not just the choices that have been offered.
If enough of us vote for integrity and character, wherever we might find it, we might finally make our voices heard that this is our country, collectively, as one people . . . united.
Perhaps then, we can find a way back from the abyss.
The Rages – Castaway will be published tomorrow, and as the hours tick away there was one item I wanted to provide on my website that I have neglected. It is right next to my “About the Author” button at the top of the page and is called “The Seven Realms of Man.”
On this page you’ll find an explanation of the people, places and things that make up The Rages and The Book of the Shepherds. I’ve disclosed no spoilers within, because that would be bad.
I created the page because I’m not particularly fond of page upon page of “info dumping” in a novel. For this novel, if I were to have done so, it would be biblical in proportion. I know some readers enjoy the experience of reading “world building” by authors, but I’m not one of them, so I try to keep it at a minimum in my writing. Two of my sons enjoy the occasional “info dumping” in science fiction and fantasy, but they’re electrical engineers, so I’m not sure they’re entirely human anyway.
I have done some “world building” or “info dumping” in The Rages because it’s a fairly complicated place and I didn’t want to keep everyone in the dark. But I’ve always preferred that an author give me a little tease and let me figure it out as they guide me along the path. I’ve tried my best to do that with The Rages.
Consider The Seven Realms of Man a road map for those who like the information up front, versus a tease. I’ll add to it from time to time, as the journey continues. I hope, in the words of Harley Nearwater, the protagonist of The Rages, that you find it “Int’restin’.”
A digital version of the Earth and everything in it. Also includes a digital version of all off-world colonies. Citizens of the Federation interact with each other primarily in the Vale.
All off world colonies of the Federation, including the Wheel in Earth orbit, the Armstrong Lunar Base, Huygens Station in Mars orbit and the colony of New Rome, Mars.
All of Europe and Asia.
Australia and Antarctica.
All of Africa and the Middle East.
All of North and South America.
The oceans of Earth
People, Places & Things
Rights of Life
The Founder Federation, shortly after uniting all of humanity as one people, declared a New Declaration of Human Rights. While the list of rights is exhaustive, the primary ones humanity is most concerned with are called the “Right To Six.”
- Right to Income: Every citizen of the Founder Federation and member of the Seven Realms is provided a weekly income determined by the Senate. Roughly 90 percent of the population live solely on their RTI accounts. The remaining “10 percenters” are comprised primarily of business owners, scientist and government employees.
- Right to Energy: Every citizen is provided a limitless supply of energy, free of charge.
- Right to Medical: Every citizen has access to medical or medical enhancement, including genetic, free of charge.
- Right to Link Access: Every citizen is provided free access to the Link and the Vale.
- Right to Housing: Every citizen is provided a home of their own, free of charge.
- Right to Education: All citizens are afforded the opportunity to education of their choice, free of charge.
There are two primary Rages wreaking havoc upon mankind. The first is the Rages borne of climate change: severe storms, wildfire, earthquakes, drought. The second is the beast Rages, which began decades after the Rages of climate change. Every animal on the planet, with the exception of dogs, has turned against mankind. Animals will hunt and kill any human they see and often work together to attack. When they do, it is called a Rage. For decades the Founder Federation has claimed that the beast Rages are caused by a virus, but there are those who believe they are in response to a planet that is sentient, awakened and determined to bring about the extinction of the human race.
All areas outside of the Hub cities of the Federation are Wilderness. The Wilderness is not a part of the Seven Realms.
The digital link that connects all citizens of the Seven Realms. Through the Link, Federation citizens can access the Vale or their own digital worlds. Connection to the Link is accomplished one of two ways:
- Linktag: A nanobot implant injected into the host through the right temple. Through a linktag, a person is constantly connected to the Link and can access the Vale with a thought.
- Eyeset: Eyepiece that connects the wearer to the Link by relaying information through the retina. When wearing an eyeset, the wearer can manipulate the Link and enter the Vale in the same manner as those with a linktag, but when not wearing the eyeset a person has no Link connection.
After the perfection of fusion and the abundance of a limitless supply of energy, powerbands were created and are provided to every citizen of the Federation. Members of the Seven Realms wear a band that stretches from just above their wrist to just below their elbow that draws power to energize anything within 50 meters of the wearer.
Virtual worlds created by citizens through the Link. In a MyRealm people can create the world of their own imagination. Many Federation citizens choose to spend the majority of their time in their own MyRealm. While it is not forbidden by the Federation, citizens are cautioned to not enter another person’s MyRealm if they are strangers. While no harm can come to a citizen in the Vale, in a MyRealm a visitor is subject to the laws of the creator of the MyRealm and can be subject to psychological stresses that can cause permanent damage.
Digital life forms without their own individuality. They interact with people in the Vale or a MyRealm, but have no independent thought. Wallpaper People is slang for a Filler.
The avatar of a person in the Vale or a MyRealm.
Digital life form. Digis have all the rights of individuality in the Seven Realms. Most choose to exist solely in the Vale, but some choose to have synthetic bodies for their consciousness to dwell in the physical world.
The physical world.
Citizens with a linktag. When first developed those with a linktag struggled with simultaneous sensory input from both the physical and digital worlds. When they were within the Link they experienced rapid eye movement and were termed Blinkers. The name stuck.
Citizens who access the Link through an eyeset.
People of the Wilderness. They refuse all of the benefits of citizenship in the Seven Realms of Man and refuse to access the Link.
While still a Right of Life, the Founder Federation has declared all religions as cults and pay them scant attention. The ChristGaians are the only religion growing in numbers, primarily in the Wilderness. ChristGaians believe in JesusGod and that the Earth Gaia is His holy concubine. Together they created all life and the Rages are their judgement upon mankind.
The Lord Judge
The Lord Judge of the Seven Realms is founder of the Federation, which replaced the United Nations after the Energy Wars. His chambers is in The Wheel in Earth orbit.
There is a High Judge appointed as the Voice of Law in each Realm of the Federation.
The Federation Senate is comprised of 191 Senators, representing each country that remained of the Old World after the Energy Wars. Each country, regardless of population, was granted one senate representative when the Founder Federation was formed. The Senate drafts laws and oversees administration of the government.
The Legion is the military arm of the Founder Federation. Each physical Realm of the Federation has its own Legion, with the Realm High Judge serving as commander. The Lord Judge serves as the Supreme Commander of all Legions in the Founder Federation. The Legion is bound by the Federation Senate. Once approved by majority vote of the Senate, the Legion is unbound and in service to the Lord Judge and his High Judges.
The Marshals Service
Federation Marshals are the keepers of peace and justice in the Seven Realms of Man. They serve under the command of each Realm High Judge and are sworn to the Lord Judge. Each Hub of the Federation has a marshal and 50 deputy marshals.
Scyes are the primary weapon of the Marshals Service. Originally developed as a digital interface with the physical world (prior to the creation of the Vale), scyes are metal orbs that provide digital input and allow the user to experience reality as if they were physically present. With the scye, a user can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel anything the scye interacts with. After the Vale was perfected, scyes were no longer utilized. The Marshals Service enhanced the scyes with shielding that turns them into a lethal weapon.
Sentinels are automations that patrol the boarders of each Hub city, sworn to protect the Hubs against incursion from the Wilderness of any animal life threatening to citizens of the Realms. They serve under the command of the Marshals Service.
Delivery drones that serve citizens of the Seven Realms. Anyone with a Link connection can request any product available in the world and if they have the funds in their right to income accounts, a Stork will deliver it. Normal delivery for most food items is within minutes. For larger or specialty order items, delivery time can take hours or as long as three days.
Dragons are high speed passenger and cargo trains built upon the skeleton of the old interstate or highway systems. They are the arterial lines for each Hub in the world and are the primary means of travel for citizens of the Federation who choose to physically travel. White Dragons are designed for passengers, Blue Dragons are cargo trains
Simply put, the Wrynd are drug addicts. In the throes of the Energy Wars, a new weapon was in development by Doctor Elias Wrynd, a drug that would make a soldier super human. It alters the genetic makeup of those injected to make them smarter, faster, stronger. The drug is called Ink because it turns the veins and sclera black. It also turns them mad, twisted into depravity, with a lust to devour anyone they consider prey. If those injected with Ink do not receive another dose of the drug within 10 days, they descend into agonizing madness and die. The drug was never perfected after 520 attempts. In attempt 521, Doctor Wrynd injected himself and consumed his team. The formula for Wrynd521 was leaked on the Link and the Wrynd were born. They prey in the Wilderness upon man and beast alike. Those who have come into contact with them call them zombies.
Welcome to the New Age of Discover and the Seven Realms of Man
Since I made the announcement, a little more than 24 hours ago, that The Rages – Castaway would be available on Amazon in a few days, I’ve had a number of people ask me how this book fits in with Five Days Dead, which I published in 2014. I thought it might be a good idea to provide an explanation.
Technically speaking, The Rages is a re-imagining of Five Days Dead. Well, sort of. When I wrote Five Days Dead it was intended as a prelude to The Book of the Shepherds. I wanted everyone to understand who Harley Nearwater is and why he is the way he is. I was purposely vague in a lot of my detail about the world he resides in because it was a world I wasn’t quite ready to introduce. I heard from a number of readers that they wanted to know more about the Hubs, why didn’t I tell them more about the Hubs? Well, that’s the reason.
So, while The Rages details Harley’s adventure in Five Days Dead, it also introduces all of the backstory that I held close to my chest. It’s also an expansion on the story and introduces all of the characters in The Book of the Shepherds and how their interaction with a no-account like Harley Nearwater changed their lives forever. The Rages, as a complete novel, is almost twice the size of Five Days Dead, and that’s the reason why.
If you enjoyed Five Days Dead, I think you’ll love The Rages (and I realize my opinion might be considered bias). The nugget of Harley’s story is still there, but there’s so much more that I can’t tell you. I hope you take the time to follow him on the trail and find out for yourself.
I’ve always considered myself fortunate to have been raised by my hero.
My dad’s been my hero since I was a kid, longer then I can remember really. He’s always been a little bit larger than life in my eyes and even though I now stand a couple of inches taller than him and outweigh him by a good 40 pounds, I still don’t seem quite so tall or so big standing next to him. He’s the hardest man I could think of to measure up to and he’s the one man I want most to be like.
With that said, I will admit that my dad was a little on the eccentric side. He might have even been a little bit crazy. He would have certainly told you he was if you had asked. He was also one of the wisest men I’ve ever met and the most aggravating. I’m not sure those two traits go hand in hand, but I think they might.
My dad was one of those soft spoken types who you would never think would be a prankster but always was. He would throw out a question just to test your belief in your religion, your politics or your convictions and when you told him you loved him he would ask you why.
He was also one of the biggest worriers, hardest workers and best speakers I’ve ever met. Growing up with him I chased his shadow and he was kind enough to allow me.
I got to ride along in the bucket of the backhoe in our hometown as a kid when he was excavating to install sewer lines or water lines and I learned more sitting on the porch listening to him talk than I think I ever have from anyone else.
As for the reasons why my dad has always been my hero, I couldn’t really tell you. He doesn’t meet any of the qualifications we tend to attach significance to when it comes to being a great dad. I can’t recall a single time when my dad ever pitched a baseball to me or tossed the football. He didn’t take me to ball games and he didn’t go on bike rides. He didn’t go camping. He never would, but he would show up to your camp site long enough to make sure you had food to eat, and then he would go home where it was comfortable.
He did on occasion take me fishing. But when I had in less than five minutes hooked my older brother, a tree limb and finally my own jacket, he pretty much stopped taking me fishing. I’m not sure he ever fished again. Maybe I ruined the experience for him.
What he did do was find every opportunity to teach you a thing or two about your world and what part you might play in it. While frying ants on the sidewalk with my magnifying glass he would come out and softly ask me what I was doing. When I told him I was killing ants he would go into a five minute sermon on how those ants hadn’t bothered me any and I shouldn’t bother them. He would crumble up a piece of cookie and tell me to watch closely as those ants went about cleaning up the mess he made.
“They’re useful,” he would say and I would roll my eyes. Today I give the same speech to my own kids and smile when they roll their eyes.
My own children were blessed beyond measure to live close to my parents and to learn a little of what I already know about my dad. When they came home to tell me the stories my dad had told them I would nod my head and let them retell his story. I know most of them by heart.
“I’m a rebel,” my dad liked to say and usually when he did one of us would smile and my mom would roll her eyes. He was a rebel only because he would say things just to make you think and most of us don’t want to bother with our own thoughts too much anymore; we’d rather just be fed someone else’s. But he kept shaking us up, forcing us to consider things we might never have considered without his prodding right up to the end.
In all my experiences with my dad over the years I believe my favorite are and always will be those times when I sat with him and listened to him talk about his dad. I smile at the look in his eyes when he talked about his dad because I know it’s the same look I had in my eyes when I talk about him.
I hope, some day, to be so lucky that my children have that look in their eyes when they talk of me.
Happy birthday Dad. I miss you.