Looking into the shadows

I’m on the homestretch of getting Life in the Shadows revised and through production–all that remains is to proofread the final version in Vellum (which means looking at it in ebook format because that helps identify errors). Proofing this book has been a challenge because it reflects different versions of Word, a dash of Corel WordPerfect, and then the odd formatting that arose from drafting on my old Android tablet.

Additionally, I ended up subscribing to Book Brush. The cover above is the final version, and oh my word is it ever easier to work with than any other graphic design program I’ve tried. I almost have the paperback version done. That’s a somewhat lower priority because of the current issues with paper shortages.

However, the book has transformed the series. After I added in new stories, both published and unpublished, I realized that this is really the first book of the Netwalk Sequence, not Netwalk. It chronicles the thirty-some years of the delicate dance between Sarah Stephens and her daughter Diana Landreth, as they collaborate and compete through their ultimately different visions of what the future should be. It lays the foundation for the rest of the series.

Sarah is a political animal and always has been. Politics has wrecked her life more than once, and just because it’s 2075 at the end of the book doesn’t mean that situation has changed, even though she has ascended to the highest pinnacle of power. She knows best, always has, and if people would only listen to her, then the world would be a better place. That includes her lovers Francis Stewart and Anne Whitman–relationships that ended disastrously for everyone involved. The relationship with her ex-husband Dan Andrews. And others, including her son Peter and grandson Andrew.

Diana, on the other hand, is a reluctant politician, unlike her mother. For years her primary focus has been research and development. Her relationship with Will Landreth isn’t exactly easy–Will has plenty of trauma, caused by his resistance to the desire of his father Parker Landreth to turn Will into Parker’s personal assassin, a tool to be used against Parker’s opponents. She loves their children, Andrew and Melanie, and mourns the estrangement from her son as he is drawn into Sarah’s orbit. She regrets the growing separation between herself and Sarah, but–Sarah disregards Diana’s warnings about the indiscriminate usage of nanos as a part of her beauty regime. Among other issues. But Diana doesn’t consider the long-range implications of choosing to develop increasingly intrusive wireless communication implants. She turns a blind eye toward Will’s increasing integration of the Landreth military technology with Do It Right’s bioremediation nanos and biobots.

All the same, the mother-daughter relationship would probably have lumbered along without anything further than occasional flare-ups between Sarah and Diana except for two things.

The chaos caused by the sudden appearance of the Disruption Machine, a war machine-like device that randomly destroys cities with no regard for ideology or political alignment.

The rise of the right-wing, cult-like Freedom Army and its shadowy co-opting of powerful, influential people.

While Sarah and Diana successfully contain the Disruption Machine and are instrumental in creating the protective structures to keep it from falling into the wrong hands (primarily those affiliated with the Freedom Army), the combination of the chaos caused by the Machine–later called Gizmo–and Freedom Army infiltration into power structures shreds the relationship between mother and daughter. That rupture is going to echo through the next two generations of women in the Stephens-Landreth-Fielding family, and the repercussions will be….

Well, the reissued books will be coming out once a month, from now through August.

And, as seems to be fitting for my early work, ten years after original publication, the tone of the damn thing appears to be eerily on point for the times.

Switching to the alternative Martiniere Legacy world and the mainstream Martiniere Legacy world is sweetness and light in comparison.


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