Friday’s for JohnKu
Today’s a little different…
Craig’s in the house.
I usually have a John Ku and also some thoughts about the week on Friday. Today is a little different. I couldn’t help but do a JohnKu, but the musings will have to wait.
I am delighted to be joined by Craig Boyack, who is launching a new book. I always enjoy Craig’s books and am looking forward to this one. So without any delay, Here’s Craig.
Thanks for inviting me back, John. I’m here to talk about my newest book, Grinders. Grinders is a cyberpunk story, and many of you might be wondering what that is. Maybe my best way to start off is by telling you what it isn’t.
Science Fiction is a huge category. You can divide it up by thinking about space opera and anything with aliens, then everything else. Cyberpunk falls in the everything else category. In that section you can find everything from Godzilla, to Jurassic Park, to Frankenstein, so let’s narrow it a bit more.
Many science fiction stories in the remainder consist of either dystopia or utopia stories. Nope, not those either, but now that we’ve narrowed the field, I feel like I can get into the topic.
Cyberpunk involves a futuristic world where things are not perfect, but not horrible either. It usually focuses on high-tech and a bit of corruption. (That’s the punk part.) In these stories the environment is important and it’s almost like a character itself. I really tried to get this across in my story.
Grinders is set in a futuristic version of San Francisco. I tried to take current events and imagine where we might be in eighty to a hundred years. People solved the energy crisis, but made themselves beholden to the new system. Seas have risen dramatically, but the sea wall never got completed due to political bickering.
Many sections of the city are underwater and parts of the coast are trash piles because of the buildings being destroyed. They managed to clean up some portions of the mess and used the debris to raise the ground where the airport is. I tried to keep this just part of the environment and not make direct and blunt points about it all. You’ll see references to places like Telegraph Island in the story. Those who know SanFrancisco will know this area as Telegraph Hill and it is not an island – for now.
My main characters work for the police department on the Grinder Squad. The city receives grant money for having a dedicated department. When the money arrives, they divert it to more glamorous details. Grinder Squad is the worst of the worst, and all the new cars, supplies, and choice assignments go elsewhere. In other words, political corruption.
Technology is huge in this story, and I tried to take the concept of Alexa or Ring doorbells and project them into the future. Grinders has a futuristic version of personal digital assistants. Advertising is pervasive in this story, and the people living in it can’t avoid a constant stream of ways to separate them from their income.
In other words, I tried to make it futuristic while keeping it more realistic to life in general. Obviously, we’ve ignored science long enough to have a problem with global warming. What might this look like in the future? What would unregulated artificial intelligence look like 100 years from now?
There are good things, too. The grid is a new way of generating cheap power, and I have a whole post planned around this one somewhere down the line. The artificial intelligence is also helpful in the story at times.
At the end of the day, my main characters have to solve the big problems in humanistic ways, and that seems logical, too. I really enjoyed coming up with this expansive environment, and I hope some of your readers will give Grinders a chance.
Thanks for having me over again, John.
Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.
Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.
Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.
Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.
Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.
This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.
I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.
You can contact Craig at the following locations: