HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN
Genre: Techno Thriller / Science Fiction / Adventure
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Date of Publication: July 27, 2020
Number of Pages: 408 pages
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What would happen if technology all over the world suddenly stopped working?
When a strange new star appears in the sky, human life instantly grinds to a halt. Across the world, anything and everything electronic stops working completely.
At first, the event seems like a bizarre miracle to Seth Black–it interrupts his suicide attempt and erases gambling debt that threatened to destroy his family. But when Seth and his wife, Natalie, realize the electricity isn’t coming back on, that their food supplies won’t last, they begin to wonder how they and their two sons will survive.
Meanwhile, screenwriter Thomas Phillips–an old friend of Natalie’s–has just picked up Skylar Stover, star of his new movie, at the airport when his phone goes dead, and planes begin to fall from the sky.
Thomas has just completed a script about a similar electromagnetic event that ended the world. Now, he’s one of the few who recognizes what’s happening and where it will lead.
When Thomas and Skylar decide to rescue Natalie and Seth, the unwilling group must attempt to survive together as the world falls apart. They try to hide in Thomas’s home and avoid desperate neighbors, but fear they’ll soon be roaming the streets with starving refugees and angry vigilantes intent on forming new governments. It’s all they can do to hold on to each other and their humanity.
Yet all the while, unbeknownst to them, Aiden Christopher–a bitter and malignant man leveraging a crumbling society to live out his darkest, most amoral fantasies–is fighting to survive as well. And he’s on a collision course with Thomas, Skylar, and the Black family.
Bill Harrison had never been a Boy Scout, but he was in the habit of preparing like one. Ever since he’d been chosen to open NeuroStor’s new office in Tokyo—which meant several trips over the next few months to scout locations, recruit talent, and familiarize himself with the culture—Bill had spent more hours on Google than he cared to count. He’d read Expedia recommendations and travel blogs and watched a strange YouTube infomercial narrated in broken English by a cartoon character, and the sum total of these resources could be distilled into three important points: Buy rail passes in advance, don’t expect to find much free WiFi, and if you think your smartphone is essential at home, wait till you get to Japan.
Now, after a torturous thirteen-hour flight, Bill was finally on the ground. The Ambien he’d taken over the Pacific had failed to produce even a moment’s sleep, but it had been quite effective at generating a disassociation with reality that only intensified as he left the jetway behind and entered Narita Airport. Directional signs were labeled in a variety of languages, and thankfully English was among them, but still it was fifteen minutes before he located the correct baggage claim area. By then his rolling suitcase and golf travel bag were orbiting the carousel alone, sad-looking, as if they had given up on any chance that he might eventually come for them.
Bill grabbed the bags and eventually found his way onto the Tokyo train, where he spent a drowsy hour staring out dark windows that eventually grew bright with nighttime color. He sent a text message to Rhonda: Landed safely. So tired. Will call you and Claire when I get to the hotel. And though he had consumed many hours poring over Google Street Views images of Tokyo, believing himself to be familiar with the look of the city, Bill was still overwhelmed by the numerous bright billboard and video displays he saw. At the main station he changed trains, and a few minutes later he finally emerged into the surreal streets of the world’s largest metropolitan area.
For a moment Bill just stood there, contemplating the systematic madness of pedestrian and automobile traffic, the sounds and smells and facial expressions so foreign to him. It was true the flight from Chicago had totaled something like 6300 miles, but when he imagined how he must look to the local citizens, how tired and out of place he felt, Bill imagined he was much farther away from home than what could be measured on a map.
Speaking of maps, he pulled out his phone so he could once again plot the hotel’s location relative to the train stop. The actual geography of the city dwarfed the version he had imagined, and the number of dark-haired people hurrying in such organized fashion made him feel even more lost than he was. He tapped the Google Maps icon and was waiting for the phone to discover its location when presently the screen went dark.
And when, almost immediately afterward, the entire world went dark.
Bill stood there, rolling suitcase in one hand, rolling golf bag in another, and waited for the electricity to come back on. Though he’d read nothing about power outages in Tokyo, he assumed they must be commonplace, since the crowd around him seemed unconcerned by the sudden darkness. At least at first. After a few moments people began stop what they were doing to look around, and one after another he noticed hands struggling with smartphones, turning them over, shaking them, looking at them with confusion. All of them appeared inoperable.
Then Bill noticed the traffic on the streets around him had also come to a complete stop. No engines were running anywhere. Silence bloomed in the absence of machinery and movement, replaced quickly by the gradual rise of human voices, a hubbub of darkness and concern and confusion.
Wait. He could hear something running after all. Some kind of engine flying above. He looked up and saw what might have been a billion stars, but no aircraft. Whatever was up there, it was invisible to him, flying fast and coming closer, and then just like that it was past him. Still flying, still descending until, maybe two or three miles away, he heard a thunderous impact.
It was a plane. A plane had fallen out of the sky and crashed.
The terror began in his toes and radiated upward until his whole body thrummed with it. Something terrible was happening. The world seemed to be ending and he was thousands of miles from Rhonda and Claire. His phone was dead and there was no way to know if his family was okay or to let them know he was okay. Without the phone he was lost, disconnected from his family and from the entire world that was not the island nation of Japan.
For that matter, without a map he wasn’t even sure how he would find his hotel. And without electricity, access to computers, he wasn’t sure if they would check him into his room.
Bill Harrison had never been a Boy Scout, but in that moment he wished he had.
Richard Cox was born in Odessa, Texas and now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His newest novel is House of the Rising Sun. Richard has also published The Boys of Summer, Thomas World, The God Particle, and Rift. He’s written for This Land Press, Oklahoma Magazine, and TheNervousBreakdown.com.
When he’s not writing or reading, Richard loves spending time with his wife and two girls. And hitting bombs.
He also wrote this bio in third person as if writing about someone else. George likes his chicken spicy!
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|1/5/21||Guest Post||Texas Book Lover|
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