Threat is my first novel, Book One of The Barren Spheres Trilogy. It's science fantasy with an environmental and political thriller component. The scale is small, the scope large. The main characters live below our feet, in a world thrown out of balance by inexplicable changes in access to resources, nutrition and living space. They may have ten legs and eight eyes but that does not stop them from engaging in Machiavellian schemes to exploit the riches of neighboring spheres, or mounting diplomatic initiatives to forestall war and bring peace.
My background as an Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker focusing on human rights and social justice issues definitely influenced the story of Threat. Without being fully conscious of it, countless moments from my experiences making films in many parts of the world found their way -- transformed of course -- into the story of Threat. For example, I once spent weeks in holed up in a delapidated hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, working with the man who led the 1964 revolution in Zanzibar, Field Marshal John Okello on his memoir. Palace intrigues, clandestine operations, ideological purity, and armed force all played a part in his story and, many years later, informed my own understanding of how the Hyavvi and the Lo-Ans, the principal groups of "Liviings" in Threat, would act in the midst of a conflict over wealth and resources. Similarly, my years of working with one of the leading trade unions in North America, UNITE HERE, helped me understand how the characters in Threat would go about implementing strategies, mobilizing their followers, and responding to serious challenges to their health and well-being.
I'd say that anyone who likes a good political thriller, set in a world that co-exists with ours, but with all the elements of speculative fiction and fantasy, will find Threat an unusual read, both entertaining and thought-provoking.
The declaration of war was delivered just before darkfall.
Prepare to be invaded.
Winkon’s breath caught in his throatstem at the document’s audacity.
Our food sources are disappearing.
And ours are not? thought Winkon.
Our offspring shrivel from lack of nourishment.
Yes, and ours also. How will sending the parents of your offspring into another Sphere, ours, to die while killing the parents of our offspring—address the Threat?
If you wish to capitulate in advance….
This time it wasn’t a thought, but a response, reverberating through Winkon’s whole being. Never. Never. Never.
* * *
An eight-eyed Hitler. A ten-legged espionage agent. A carapaced Queen. An intelligence-gathering avian courier service. A resistance fighter able to blur herself into invisibility. Sibling survivors of The Mist.
These vibrant, dimensional characters and many more come together, and burst apart, in Threat. It’s a war of the worlds, in a time of diminishing resources, incomprehensible plagues, apocalyptic catastrophes, and tremors of extinction. Is it our world? Yes; no. Threat is familiar, casting a storyteller’s timeless, irresistible net (courage, betrayal; humor, fear, hope; a hostile, take-no-prisoners political climate and a desperate diplomatic search for peace).
Yet Threat is startlingly new. The ground it breaks is right below our feet, where the main characters reside. There, on a fine, thin thread already fraying, the future hangs in the balance. Must it be the terrifying one, whose limits are already in evidence? Or is there another, more hopeful possibility?
In 350 pages, Threat shows us the biggest picture there is, writ deep and small, microscopically so. With elements of science-fantasy, speculative fiction and political thriller, filled with brilliant characters, and non-stop, cliff-hanger action, told in language reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange’s inventiveness, Threat will provoke, satisfy, and enthrall readers.