The MechaNation series was like sandblasting a hot rod for me.
For years and years, I had been focused on my previous series, Rose Petals and Gun Powder, of which totaled 6 novels all set between 1920 and 1954, with a stand-alone title I’d written way back in 2001.
Since completing the first RPGP novel, I had been toying with 3D modeling and rendering in an effort to try my hand at making a full CG-based movie adaptation. Much to my duped ego, I was in for a shock. At best, RPGP would be limited to still plates in a graphic novel format as I learned the hard truth about high quality rendering, or more specifically, how long a single thirty second sequence could take at 1080P quality, 24 frames per second. My first clip: well over 72 hours for a simple crane-style zoom sequence.
Sometime after that, I became involved in several rendering communities and went on staff with one, where I had to opportunity to get to know some great artists.
While assisting in the forums of one particular group (I’m still under a Non-Disclosure Agreement) I was approached by an artist that was very impressed with my work and proposed to launch a joint project.
At first I was thrilled. I’d never co-written anything and had wanted to do so for quite a long time. I also wanted to try something spectacularly different from my period novels. So, in the summer of 2012, I began fleshing out new back stories and concept art for six near-future characters for a leading biotech company set in 2047.
This company, Lazarus Nanotech Corporation, was in the business of supplying a new breed of nanomachine implants that they called NanoInjections. I’ll spare you the technical jibjab, but the fellow I pitched this to loved it. I continued to work out some kinks and reworked render concepts, but he never reciprocated with ideas, and I began to suspect a lack of motivation.
Unfortunately, that’s when the mess began. I had a fairly clear idea of where the arc could go, and at this stage, was open to compromise.
Compromise on stories, but not my morals. I was informed by some of the staff of the unnamed company that this artist had a troubled history, including depictions of rape and torture.
Mortified, I cut ties immediately. After several weeks of work, the project was essentially dead in the water.
However, as one door closes, another opens. On another digital art site I had been previewing the images on, the response was exceptionally well received. With my creative juices renewed, I began to detail new story ideas and laid down the groundwork for what would become MechaNation.
The central ideas of the MechaNation world are based on the biotech industry currently in its relative infancy. Projecting my ideas thirty five years into an altered future, human augmentation had been developed initially as a military solution to producing better soldiers. As is much of our current technology, I applied the same working theory of Trickle Down Technology, where military-grade applications are declassified and applied to a wider audience through civilian-grade adaptation. Think GPS and cell phone technology.
Back to the fictional backdrop, the initial location is named Lobar City. Lobar is a little play on words of ‘low bar’, indicative of an ultra-modern, fashionably futuristic version of a major metropolitan area with a seedy underbelly.
Lobar City is a place where technology such as holographic projections both large and small (jumbotrons named Holo-Displays in the novels and tablet-sized holographic computers called GigaPads), Limb Replacement Therapy Units (LRUs) and various internal augmentations are commonplace among its citizens. This is considered ‘old tech’, diversified by different generations. Gen 1 and 2 are the most widely known variants.
NanoInjections (NIs) are the ‘new tech’, and once again began as military-grade applications. Their operations and variants are explored within the novels, but the skinny version is that the days of butchering the human body have become the old way. NI’s no longer require open surgery, and better yet, are widely available in any number of applications between beauty, intelligence boosters, independent muscle controls (such as the ability to focus each eye on different targets), on-the-fly genitalia enhancement, and more.
This incredible breakthrough has since spawned an entirely new market of acquiring these highly prized commodities, thus coined by BioSmugglers as the Nano Black Market (NBM).
Enter the Lazarus Nanotech Repossession Taskforce, better known through internal channels as the Chop Shop.
Composed of five operators of varying backgrounds and commanded by a General of the fallen Human Guerilla Faction (history explained in the character dossiers included in the opening pages of MechaNation with the concept renderings), it is the Chop Shop’s task to locate, track and repossess stolen/pirated LRUs and NanoInjections from the NBM.
Much like any family, there are bound to be personality clashes. This is often a fun and introspective look on the characters of the Chop Shop as they operate towards a given goal throughout the novels.
My final little tidbit I’d like to share is the introduction of several new types of opponents that pop up throughout the novels. Without giving away too much, I will simply whet your appetites with some abbreviated details.
The first to appear is a mysterious type of female android (something new that has never been seen by anyone in Lobar City on either side of the legal lines) called Perfect Sin. While beautiful and alluring, don’t drop your guard, as these synthetic Femme Fatales are just as deadly as they are stunning to behold.
The next items (prepare your imaginations, folks!) I will simply note as nanomachine-affected zombies and something called the NEO virus. With plenty of sequences and some spectacular action scenes, imagine a city full of these things and the chaos that ensues. And it only gets bigger and more audacious as the pages climb…
All the while, the Chop Shop, a slew of Lobar City’s finest and a cast of animated characters are uncovering a convoluted conspiracy that stretches across two novels (MechaNation and MechaNation: Rebirth).
The action is frenetic, the ideas plausible, and the characters and villains are as alive as you can imagine!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief Story Behind the Book glimpse into the speculative future of the MechaNation series. The best is truly yet to come…
J.E. Dugas is the author of the multi-period action/adventure/science fiction series Rose Petals and Gun Powder (Rose Petals and Gun Powder, including , RPGP: Shadows of Life, RPGP: Lost Cove, RPGP: Wanderlust, and RPGP: Paradoxical, a Double Feature), as well as the new title MechaNation, a NanoPunk Thriller. J.E. is currently at work on its sequel, MechaNation: Rebirth. Prior to writing full time, J.E. spent over a decade in the private security and law enforcement fields.
Visit him at http://www.crimsonworx.com/index.html.