THE JADE REBELLION (The Jade Chronicles #1) By Alanna Mackenzie ***Guest Post - Giveaway***
This is my stop during the blog tour for The Jade Rebellion by Alanna Mackenzie. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 18 February till 3 March. See the tour schedule here.
The Jade Rebellion (The Jade Chronicles #1)
By Alanna Mackenzie
Genre: Science Fiction/ Fantasy
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: 1 May, 2018
A reckoning. A rebellion. The worlds of artificial intelligence and ancient magic collide.
Crystal City glistens with diamonds, but its dazzling beauty comes at a deadly price. The capital of Khalendar thrives on a steady supply of gemstones from the neighboring Barrens, a colony of the Empire.
Walter Saltanetska translates AI code for the Khalendar government, helping to breathe life into the ambitious vision of the AI Masters. When Walter discovers a terrible secret which could destroy the life of his lover, Elaine, he decides to tell her despite strict orders to keep what he translates confidential.
What begins as a catastrophe eventually grows into a rebellion. Elaine is taken captive by the AI Masters, and Walter must do everything in his power to rescue her. He starts his quest with a single goal in mind, finding Elaine, but along the way Walter discovers that saving her is only a small part of his destiny. During his travels, he encounters a long-lost relative, a warrior matriarch, and a mystical kingdom forgotten to time. Yet Walter's true journey occurs not in physical space, but the captivating depths of his mind.
An inventive blend of dystopian science-fiction and fantasy, the Jade Rebellion explores whether we can overcome technological determinism by preserving history, nature, spirituality, and ultimately, our humanity.
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The Power of Place
in Science Fiction
By Alanna MacKenzie
Setting is perhaps more important in science fiction than in any other literary genre. The setting defines and influences the tone, style, and themes of a science fiction novel. I was particularly struck by the power of setting while recently reading one of the classics of science fiction: Dune by Frank Herbert. In this novel, the planet Arrakis is not a silent backdrop upon which the real drama unfolds, but is rather a character in its own right. One could even go so far as to say that Arrakis is the protagonist of the novel. The ecology of Arrakis shapes nearly everything else in the novel, from politics to religion to war. The novel’s depiction of the Fremen, the nomadic natives of Arrakis, highlights the dominant influence of the setting on the story development. The Fremen are oppressed by their harsh environment and long for a better one, but they are also well-adapted to engage in highly sophisticated military operations because of the hostile environment they evolved in. Both of these traits ultimately lead them to accept Paul Atreides as their messiah and engage in warfare against the Emperor and the Harkonnen.
In my novel, The Jade Rebellion, the setting is just as important as the main characters in the novel. If Crystal City were a character, it would be materialistic, glamorous, restless, and constantly striving to impress. Just like Canada’s qualities are brought into sharp relief by the country’s close proximity to the United States, Crystal City’s traits are highlighted by its juxtaposition with the Barrens, its southernly neighbor. A colony of Khalendar, the Barrens is exactly what Crystal City is not – quiet, humble, and content with its lack of material wealth. Crystal City evokes the image of London at the apex of the British Empire, a glittering jewel in comparison to the dark, untamed, and “blank” spaces on the map which Britain had yet to conquer. Yet Crystal City’s beauty is utterly superficial – while alluring at first glance, upon closer examination, Crystal City is actually the emptier character while the Barrens is the far more complex one. The Barrens has a rich history, culture and social fabric; its inhabitants are blessed with a deep spiritual connection to the landscape and to their ancestors. In contrast, Crystal City’s occupants are profoundly unhappy. Without a strong anchor to their past or to their future, their minds are becoming similar to those of the AIs who preside over them, lacking in the depth or richness that makes them human.
At the same time, Crystal City is a dynamic character that is capable of evolution – even salvation. Despite the city’s superficiality, there are pockets of the city’s suburbs which are essentially strongholds of resistance against AI rule. The poorest and most destitute areas of the city are also the most interesting ones; the spirit of rebellion is vividly apparent in the smoky Jamestown bars, the working-class factories, and the seedy Stockyards warehouses.
The Crate is another example of the important role of setting in the novel. It’s panopticon-like shape is designed to optimize AI surveillance of the prisoners, which serves as a compelling metaphor for technology’s omnipresent gaze. In our modern era, technology is always watching us or casting a spotlight upon us – and we tend to modify our behavior as a result, whether by curating our social media profiles to enhance our online image, or by cautiously limiting the data we provide to apps and online services.
Without a strong and well-developed setting, science fiction would simply not be the complex and fascinating genre that it is. It is often by reflecting on the setting of the novel that we can uncover a deeper meaning behind the story, and better understand how this meaning translates to the world we live in.
Mariner’s Cove was a pristine beach surrounded by high limestone cliffs, and its unspoiled natural beauty contrasted starkly with the concrete towers of Crystal City. In the summertime, it was filled with people from all walks of life. Situated at the southern border between Crystal City and the Stockyards, the cove was one of the few places in Khalendar where elites and working-class folk mingled freely without any conflict. Between late fall and early spring, the beach was generally deserted, frequented only by cormorants, gulls, and the occasional albatross. It was the perfect place for meditation and reflection, if you didn’t mind the biting cold of the westerly winds and the crashing sound of the waves as they collided violently with the shore.
As soon as Walter’s interview was over he went to Mariner’s Cove, eager to soothe the fierce pounding in his head and to bring his rapid heart rate back down to normal levels. He sat down against a log near the water’s edge, and only after he had settled in did he realize that he was not alone; a girl was sitting on the other side of his log, reading quietly. Walter surveyed the silvery blue expanse of ocean stretched out beneath the horizon. In clear weather, it was possible to spot the northern tip of Scarlet Isle from Mariner’s Cove, but on that day the island was blanketed in an impenetrable shroud of mist.
Walter had made a game out of counting ships in the harbor, and it was one of his favorite beach pastimes. Identifying ships was more complicated in unruly weather, however, and on days when a dense shroud of mist and fog blanketed the harbor. The vessels were partially hidden beneath the shroud, their prows and masts modestly exposing themselves like timid maidens peeking through their wedding veils. Walter struggled to count the ships accurately, and his failure irritated him. He had always been proud of his own precision, but that quality also made him slightly obsessive and hard on himself.
The fog was growing heavier, and several ominous-looking clouds were rolling in toward the shore. Walter recalled their name from science class: cumulus. It sounded thick and heavy, like sludge. He gazed at them indifferently, confident that the clouds would not reach him and that he could relax at the beach for a few more hours, lazily curing his exhaustion. Yet he also knew how terrible thunderstorms at Mariner’s Cove could become; they had acquired a sort of legendary status throughout Khalendar. During a storm, waves would climb higher and higher as towering sheets of water assaulted the shore. When the waves broke, they would crash ferociously upon the rocky beach, erupting into dazzling geysers of foam and froth. The thunder would echo and bounce off of the limestone cliffs of the cove, saturating the beach with sound and fury. While it was a beautiful sight to behold, it was also quite dangerous. Many lives had been claimed through such thunderstorms, and Crystal City’s law enforcement agents had taken to reprimanding anyone who stayed at the cove during the storms.
After the immense challenge Walter had recently undergone, however, it seemed as though he could conquer anything; nothing appeared dangerous or daunting to him anymore. Adrenaline pumped through his veins still, even though its force was waning and was gradually being replaced by the desire to sleep. A vague thought nonetheless stirred within him: that the girl sitting behind him was facing the opposite direction of the oncoming storm, and was likely completely unaware of its approach.
About the Author:
Alanna Mackenzie lives in Vancouver, Canada. She holds degrees in History, French studies, and Law from the University of British Columbia. An environmentalist at heart, she believes in using the law as a tool for social and environmental change. When she is not pursuing that passion, she can be found brainstorming the next chapter in her novels, playing Irish fiddle tunes on the violin, and hiking West Coast trails.
You can find and contact Alanna Mackenzie here:
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