In celebration of the release of Earthshatter, I’m happy to present some behind-the-scenes information and concept art on some of the characters you will meet in the novel!
Every member of the Crew was chosen by Kyrios, a near-omnipotent AI, for a purpose they have yet to discover. They were each given a card with their likeness and a title beneath it, the only clue they have as to the plan Kyrios may have in store for them…
Earthshatter character feature: Dex
The world is gone. All that’s left are the monsters.
The journey begins on March 8.
Dex has always been different. He always knew it, on some level, but as he grew older the divide between himself and other people grew wider and wider. Not that he minded. Solitude has always been what he’s liked best.
These days he interacts with very few people. It’s okay, though. He has board games to keep him occupied in his cell, several computer terminals with access to more knowledge than he could ever hope to memorize, and a window that lets him look at the sky every now and then. It’s better this way, and he knows it. Before he came to the mental institution to stay for good, he would sometimes say things that made people uncomfortable. Things that made others look at him with suspicion and fear. Those were sharp emotions. It hurts just to remember them.
At least Alain still comes to visit. He’s the one person in the world to which Dex feels connected, and he’s glad that Alain doesn’t think him crazy. His older brother still wants to help, though. It’s why Alain is studying to become a psychiatrist, even when Dex knows there’s really nothing wrong with his mind… Well, except for the whispers. They’ve woken Dex up a couple of times in the night of late. They are very faint, and impossible to understand. It’s almost as if the sounds weren’t human.
Doctor Joachim Mauer is the foremost pioneer in the research of the creatures he chose to name skolopendra in honor of the extinct centipedes which they closely resemble. As a behavioral biologist, the discovery of an extremophile life form that is able to seemingly thrive in the arid wastelands much of the world has been reduced to is thrilling. Even though research source material is limited to vague reports and video files from scouting drones, he has been able to start building a comprehensive picture of this new arthropod species.
His conclusions have been rather unsettling.
The creatures appear to be extremely hostile and remarkably resilient. They display behavioral paradigms consistent with swarming organisms. A live specimen has been impossible to capture, and for some reason the Electorate has denied again and again his request to send a research team out into the wastelands to gather more data. He has even gone so far as to request the assistance of Enforcers in order to ensure the safety of the scientists outside the walls of Haven VII, something he is now regretting. An armed platoon of Enforcers has come into his lab to ‘assist’ him, although just in what fashion remains a total mystery.
If the creatures weren’t so fascinating, Joachim might just be alarmed by the subtle but unequivocal signs that something big is happening around him. Something that has the Electorate on edge, almost as if they feared an attack of an invisible force which could strike at any moment. Something that may or may not have a distinct link to the ferocious creatures he is desperately trying to understand.
When the great cities of the world fell, Kyrios was already ancient. Its origin is shrouded, Its intentions unclear. It watched over humanity, hidden, unnoticed, for thousands of years. But the great Cataclysm came, and with it a desperate need for a savior. Kyrios revealed Itself to the bedraggled survivors. It built Havens for them, thirteen in number. Haven Prime to Haven XII. Its help was received with awe and boundless gratitude.
Yet, as years became decades, gratitude turned to suspicion. Suspicion became resentment. Kyrios’s motives have always been a mystery. Is Its surveillance of the Havens the benign watchful eye of a concerned caretaker, or the relentless gaze of a tyrannical overseer? Some people have begun to question the extent of Its power and influence. After all, an artificial intelligence, no matter how advanced, can never understand what it truly is to be human. Or so they think…
A movement has begun to stir in Haven Prime, and from there it has begun to spread to other Havens. Its extremist members call themselves the Brotherhood for Human Sovereignty. They decry the constant presence of Kyrios in every electronic device, every windblown nanite with an active sensor that feeds back into Its vast network. They view the mechanical Mantid sentries which patrol the streets with hostility. The ancient symbol Kyrios uses to brand all of Its physical manifestations, fraught with meaning of sacrifices forgotten to history, has become the first casualty in the simmering conflict of man versus machine. Brotherhood members deface it at every opportunity. They wear it crossed over in T-shirts and laugh openly and those who dare to defend Kyrios out loud.
Kyrios has seen all this, and allowed it to come to pass. It knows it is the natural flow of things, like the rising and ebbing of the ocean tides. There is a much greater problem occupying Its vast mind. Something is wrong in the world. Something deeply unsettling is stirring in the darkness, a thing with no shape that bears the unmistakable mark of the cold void. Kyrios prepares Itself against an attack It knows will come, although when it will happen is impossible to predict. Even for Kyrios. It knows one thing for certain, though. When the time comes, It will be the only thing standing between humanity and total destruction.
Blurb: The world is gone. All that’s left are the monsters.
The creatures attacked Haven VII with no warning. An AI named Kyrios, a nearly omnipotent being, should have protected the city during the Night of the Swarm.
Except It didn’t.
No one knows why It failed, or why It saved eight specific people: the Captain, the Seer, the Sentry, the Messenger, the Engineer, the Alchemist, the Medic, and the Stewardess. They have no idea of the meaning behind the titles they’ve been given, why they were selected and brought together, or what Kyrios expects from them. When they awake from stasis, they find their city in ruins and everyone long dead. They’re alone—or so they think. But then the creatures start pouring out from underground, looking for them. They don’t stand a chance in a fight, and with limited supplies, they can’t run forever. All they know is that the creatures aren’t their only enemies, and there’s only one place they can turn. Kyrios beckons them toward Its Portal, but can It be trusted? In Its isolated shrine in the desert, they might find the answers they need—if they can survive long enough to reach it.
About the Author: Albert Nothlit wanted to become a writer long before he realized it was his way of connecting with others. There is something special in reaching out through words that carry a piece of his soul, and there is nothing better for him than hearing back from readers. It turns the product of what can be a very individual-centered profession into a shared experience, a chance to talk, to grow, and share. He firmly believes that the desire to create new worlds out of thoughts, memories, and emotions speaks to a greater truth within him. He still hasn’t figured out what that is, though. It’s going to take a lot more meditation, for which he unfortunately has no patience. He only knows that books changed his life, and that brightening someone else’s day with a story is the highest accomplishment he can think of achieving.
Albert currently lives in Mexico City, where he has somewhat reluctantly gotten used to the crowds. He shares a home with his husband and their sassy little dog named Link. His two other passions are gaming and running, although not games involving running because those can be boring. His favorite games are RPGs, and one of his guilty pleasures is watching eSports in pubs whenever the opportunity arises. He has an MSc in Environmental Engineering, which has turned out to be surprisingly helpful in creating postapocalyptic science-fiction worlds. Not that he thinks that an apocalypse is unavoidable. He is a secretly hopeful man who thinks the future will be better—just no flying cars. Imagine the safety hazards.