I’m a survivor, and by ‘survivor’ I mean coward. I’ve never found a danger I couldn’t avoid. I’m an author, not a stuntman. Insert your best Leonard McCoy impression here. My favorite way to deal with danger is to make it up and then inflict it on some poor unsuspecting soul (preferably someone who doesn’t actually exist, but I’m not picky). The characters in my sci-fi debut, The Chosen Twelve, face all sorts of peril, and they’re just kids — allegedly. Regardless of how old they really are, physically, they’re children. I wondered how I, a large and awkward adult, would have fared if I underwent the same adventures they did.
Here are five times I would have died in my own book…
5. Opening the Door
On the decaying moon base the children of The Chosen Twelve call home, hostile artificial intelligences lurk everywhere. Any device with a computer can be taken over by an AI with an ax to grind — or claws to jab or wheels to commit vehicular manslaughter. They’re flexible like that. One particularly nefarious digital life form has it out for a kid named Gamma and lies in wait for him for years before springing its trap. Its weapon of choice? A sliding metal door. There’s no surprise attack more terrifying. I wouldn’t survive more than a few minutes in a world where automatic doors could randomly try to kill me. I’d still risk it, though, especially if those doors were at a convenience store. I’d die for gas station pizza.
4. Running the Simulator
To practice building a civilization, the kids run through virtual reality landings on the hostile alien planet below. The children spend years testing out various approaches, all of which end in uniquely awful disasters. Deadly elephant diarrhea, anyone? The time scale of the simulation is exponentially faster than real life and puts immense strain on the organics’ brains. Humans aren’t supposed to be able to take more than a few hundred hours of it. Yet the twenty-two children of The Chosen Twelve have spent tens of thousands of hours in the simulator. There is something very wrong with all of them, but they’re still standing. I wouldn’t be. The simulations would definitely melt my brain. Not that my brain is all that solid to begin with. Thanks for nothing, Netflix.
3. Running the Not the Death Race
Some of the more restless organics have a tradition of a kilometers-long full-contact parkour race through the most dangerous sections of the moon base. Don’t let the name fool you. The ‘Not the Death Race’ offers pretty much nothing but death, unless you win, in which case it offers death and bragging rights. I wouldn’t even need an angry bulldozer bot to crush me. The cardio alone would be fatal.
2. Fighting with Swords
It goes without saying, but duels with sharp, pointy objects aren’t good for anyone’s long-term health. These swords are especially sharp, crafted by Delta, who combined the knowledge of ancient swordsmiths with cutting-edge technology, pun intended, to create the deadliest blades ever created. They can even cut through metal, which is good since they’re the only weapon the kids have against their less-than benevolent robot overlords. If the swords can cut through a mining bot’s reinforced steel hull, just imagine what it would do against soft, squishy humans. Well, you don’t have to imagine because it’s spelled out in the book. If I were in one of those battles on either side, I’d die immediately. The only way I could possibly win is if I passed out from fear and my attacker tripped over me. Don’t run with swords, kids.
1. Going to College Over and Over Again
I’ve never been a fan of school. Endlessly repeating the same classes for decades on end is my idea of hell on earth. Or hell on a distant moon base in an alien solar system, in this case. Getting hacked apart by the sharpest swords in the galaxy seems positively pleasant by comparison.
Think you could survive those scenarios? Check out The Chosen Twelve on 18 January. It’s much more fun to read about these dangers than to go through them yourself.
The Chosen Twelve is out now from Rebellion. Order your copy here.