In spite of my earlier post today, I really have managed to do some writing since I retired, adding nearly 100 pages to the first book of the Transition trilogy, currently titled WAR!. I thought I would give you a little peek at what is coming. It is a work in progress, so anything is subject to change. But the Prologue introduces the main character, and I’ve also attached a summary of the first book. I’m not completely satisfied with the Prologue, so comments/suggestions are welcome. And I won’t guarantee that the synopsis won’t be modified before I’m done. But this gives you an advance look at an approximation of what is coming – very different from my first two books!
September 7, 2101
My name is Sarah Crawford Owens. In three days I will turn one hundred years old. I was born on the day before the 9/11 attacks at the beginning of the twenty-first century. A lot has followed that day, as I lived it, as history and others told it, and as enhanced with the hindsight of a lifetime of learning, triumphs and sorrows.
This is my story.
When I was very young, adults often argued about the government and the constant political battles that prevented anything meaningful from getting done that could reverse the downward plunge of our country’s position and respect in the rest of the world.
That ended with a nuclear attack in early 2017.
I’ve spent the past three years researching the key circumstances and events of the last century and their impact on decisions made and on our lives. I lived through it, of course, but since I saw it through my own personal experience, I believed that documentable facts were needed to support and expand on my experiences as described. I was a teacher during the Transition, as the period following the nuclear attack was named. Children born during and after the Transition would never know a different life.
There was a story told in my early life, before the war, that was a warning of the direction our country was taking. It went like this:
A young foreign exchange student asked his professor: “Do you know how to catch wild pigs?”
The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line.
The young man said that it was no joke. “You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn.
“When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side.
“The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat that free corn again.
“You then slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.”
The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he saw happening in America “The government,” he said, “keeps spreading the ‘free corn’ out in the form of programs such as business bailouts, extended unemployment benefits, alternative energy loans and subsidies, tax credits, industry subsidies, welfare, food stamps, and so on, while freedoms are whittled away a little at a time. And the people aren’t happy – some because of the loss of freedom, but many come to believe they are not being given enough.”
This story was shared widely for some time, intended to raise awareness of the loss of freedoms resulting from increasing government regulation. But it applied equally to how people adapted to the changes during Transition. The heavy government hand alluded to in the story was lifted, but another hand replaced it.
As my childish awareness of the world around me matured, I thought I had a clear understanding of what was going on and why. I worked hard at trying to remain objective. So much of what happened seemed like business as usual, I, like most, failed to see the pen growing around us. And by the time we did, most of us didn’t really care.
In many ways, life was better than it had ever been – but not until after The Final War and several decades of adjustment. In fact, it was the war, I now see, that allowed the earliest changes to move forward with less public challenge than would otherwise have been the case.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
(BOOK ONE OF THE TRANSITION TRILOGY)
From the year 2101, century-old Sarah Crawford Owens recounts the evolution of her life, beginning with a 2017 nuclear rocket attack by allies Iran and North Korea. Sarah weaves her personal story, loves, losses and triumphs, throughout the broader history. In the America of the twenty-first century, personal freedoms remain and even expand, but personal responsibility for choices made rises to unprecedented (and sometimes tragic) levels.
War! takes the reader through the war years and the decade that followed, including the introduction of draconian changes in American life. After newly elected President Herrera leads a retaliatory attack on Iran and North Korea, he sets in motion a chain of events leading to a world-wide conflict, beginning with an invented war that is made to look like it was initiated by China. The president uses the accelerating war to justify domestic changes, including declaring martial law, re-instatement of the military draft and elimination of most entitlement programs.
The atypical war lasts just over four years.
As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Sarah’s love for seventeen-year-old Jeremy Montgomery is more than a teen crush. When war erupts and Jeremy volunteers she feels betrayed and terrified, but loves him all the more for his courage and principles.
In spite of the distance between them, their commitment to each other initially grows until the summer after Sarah’s high school graduation, when Jeremy admits to seeing other women but doesn’t want her to date anyone else. A devastated Sarah breaks up with Jeremy – sharing him is worse than not having him in her life – yet she harbors the hope that Jeremy will want her back. A few months later, college freshman Sarah receives a fateful call from Jeremy’s mother. The “safe” job for which Jeremy was trained, in a high-tech computer center in Nevada, has been rocked by a massive explosion. Jeremy is alive, but badly injured. At his mother’s request, Sarah flies to Nevada to be with him. But the Jeremy she finds in the hospital bed is a stranger. His cruel barbs tear at her heart, and he tells her to stay out of his life. Stunned and shattered, she returns to college and tries to pick up the pieces of her life and future.
Meanwhile, President Herrera’s meetings with a group of leaders known simply as “The Team” have led to the mapping of a dramatic domestic policy change. Survival of the nation is deemed more critical than the fate of individual citizens. One by one, government programs are dismantled.
(I don’t want to ruin the story for you, so I won’t share the rest of what happens in War! But I hope this whets your appetite and also demonstrates that the answer to the oft-asked question, “How is the writing going?”, is the story is alive and growing daily.)
Let me know what you think so far!