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Thursday, February 7, 2013

GUEST POST: Friend And Foe by James K. Decker

The Burn Zone takes place in a sort of alternate-reality future where an alien race called the Haan has crash-landed. While it takes place solely in the fictional city of Hangfei, it is clear (and will become more so as the series progresses) that the presence of the haan has had a significant impact on the world at large.

In the novel, overpopulation has pushed the world to its brink. Food and water shortages are rampant, and as nations begin to fracture those that survive do so through military might. In this regard, the Haan have been a double-edged sword to the country where Hangfei resides (never specifically spelled out, but implied to be a kind of China analogue). On the one hand, the calorie requirements of the haan are huge - many times that of a human - and just keeping them alive has put a huge strain on the local population. On the other hand, the haan are vastly more advanced, and by providing technology like antigravity, teleportation, force-fields, and graviton weapons to name a few, they've allowed their host country to stay afloat while others sink, as well as keep the less fortunate from crossing their borders. This is appreciated more at the top tiers of society (and government) where starvation isn't as much of an issue. For the working class, or poverty stricken, the deals made with the haan are a point of serious contention.

It hasn't escaped the rest of the world, either. Foreign forces have watched one country remain rich (relatively speaking) and powerful while the rest fall apart. They see the haan becoming stronger and stronger, and fear that if they allow it to continue then a tipping point might be reached where no one will be able to stand against them. The country’s Pan-Slav neighbors to the north are a particular problem. The Pan-Slav Emirates is described in the story as a desperate, fallen state which has cracked apart, leaving looted arsenals in the hands of disparate militias. The border is patrolled constantly to keep terrorists from crossing in to bomb feedlots and water supplies. Offshore, foreign fleets (primarily made up of the Americans and the European Union) have amassed, keeping their cannons and missiles aimed toward Hangfei, watching as the haan make good on their most recent promise, the construction of a defense shield. No one in Hangfei knows exactly what to think about it, but most people suspect that the only reason the foreigners haven't fired yet is because they know the force-field dome over the haan ship can't be penetrated. At the same time, with the defense shield nearly complete, their window to act at all might be closing. The people of Hangfei live in fear that they'll be attacked any day.

According to Hangfei's leaders, the foreigners only want to loot them. They are going under, and are ready to take whatever they need in order to survive. The haan, they promise, will help all of humanity but the rest of the world doesn't want to wait. If they aren't held back, they'll come in to try and take what they need. Needless to say, there are signs in the story that all might not be exactly as it appears. The entire country has been cut off from the rest of the world by an oppressive government, which controls all media. No one knows exactly what kinds of deals have been made between their leaders and the mysterious haan, except those who made them. Stray signals that bleed through suggest that the foreigners at their gates might have more complex motivations than just taking what they need.

This is the world of The Burn Zone. We see the tip of the iceberg in the first installment, and these dynamics will unfold as the series continues…

Order "The Burn Zone" HERE
Order "Ember" HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: James K. Decker was born in New Hampshire in the seventies, and has lived in the New England area since that time. He developed a love of reading and writing early on, participating in young author competitions as early as grade school, but the later discovery of works by Frank Herbert and Issac Asimov turned that love in to an obsession.

He wrote continuously through high school, college and beyond, eventually getting published under the name James Knapp, with the publication of the Revivors trilogy (State of Decay, The Silent Army, and Element Zero). State of Decay was a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and won the 2010 Compton Crook Award. The Burn Zone is his debut novel under the name James K. Decker. He currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife Kim.


André Nóbrega said...

I've never read anything by the author but the possibilities the concept of this book give him are huge. Going straight to my wishlist.

Paul Weimer said...

Had the chance to talk to James on a podcast I work with. I hadn't heard of Burn Zone before that, but it went on my wish list as well (my co host was lucky enough to get a copy...)

The Reader said...

@ Andre

Glad to hear you found James' post intriguing. We look forward to hearing how you find the book.

@ Paul

Its an intriguing concept and I'm enjoying the world as it's slowly unveiled by the author. I'm in the middle thrid of the book.


John said...

What's the name of this series ?

The Reader said...

Hi John,

There's no official title as of yet but "The Burn Zone" series can be used.


Tess Young said...

Hello There,
I just wanted to see if you were currently interested in additional guest bloggers for your blog site.
I see that you've accepted some guest posters in the past - are there any specific guidelines you need me to follow while making submissions?
If you're open to submissions, whom would I need to send them to?
I'm eager to send some contributions to your blog and think that I can cover some interesting topics.
Thanks for your time,

The Reader said...

Hi Tess,

You can email us at fantasybookcriticblog(at)Gmail(dot)com. Please email us about what topics you are interested in & previous samples (if any). Thanks.


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