There’s no question that, both as individuals and as a collective society, our attention spans have narrowed. We bounce from one shiny new diversion to another, forgetting much of our past in the process. New buildings are thrown up on top of old ones; we can’t even spare the time or the expense to give our history a proper burial.
In my new biopunk thriller, Kingdom, I tried to address this cultural amnesia by creating a city that is devouring itself: Tiber City, the dystopian capital of my fictional universe, is in a constant state of “progress” that allows its denizens no time for reflection or contemplation. New businesses rise and fall almost overnight; entire alleyways vanish—or perhaps they are forgotten. No one can remember, but, without question, they’re gone.
At some point, this process becomes almost autonomous; there is a sense that Tiber City is somehow not only sentient, but, driven by a dark energy, is intent on perpetuating our societal ADD.
I’ve been looking forward to my tour stop at Beauty in Ruins because I knew BiR’s audience would be sympathetic to the idea that landscapes, that monuments and ruins, can project a certain power, an energy that captures the imagination. Tiber City is that kind of place. But this is also a city without a soul that seems intent on exerting its will over its people. There are parts of the city, however, that still hold mystery and wonder; places that were constructed with care and vision and lie in patient repose. In fact, the fate of Kingdom’s protagonist rests of his ability to navigate these ruins, and understand their secrets.
Below you’ll find a short excerpt from Kingdom, a paragraph that describes Tiber City and its descent into cultural amnesia.
Reaching the exit, Campbell pulled open the steel door that marked the camp’s main entrance. Like much of Tiber City, the old warehouse—the basement levels of which held Camp Ramoth—had been hastily constructed to satisfy an immediate need and then forgotten, money, politics, and power always pushing forward, need begetting need begetting ever more need. Consequently, rather than taking the time and the money to tear buildings down, these structures were buried alive, fresh concrete and steel poured over the still-viable structures. When the money dried up, these new buildings—little more than heaps of cheap material slapped together atop uneven foundations by strangers, by men who were not from these neighborhoods, by men who couldn’t care less—began to crumble. And when they did, no one gave a shit because the goal had never been sustainability; turn a profit and move on was the fundamental philosophy. Structure began cannibalizing structure, and as the foundations of the newest buildings collapsed, older, forgotten buildings were unearthed. As a result, the Jungle’s geography was forever changing as the slums rose up to reclaim the land, prefab material no match for the infinite patience of time.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. And a huge thanks to Beauty in Ruins for allowing me to hijack valuable blog space.
by Anderson O’Donnell
In a secret laboratory hidden under the desert, a covert bioengineering project--codename "Exodus"--has discovered the gene responsible for the human soul.
Somewhere in the neon sprawl outside the nation's collapsing economic core, a group of renegade monks are on the verge of uncovering a secret that has eluded mankind for centuries.
In a glittering tower high above the urban decay, an ascendant U.S. Senator is found dead--an apparent, yet inexplicable, suicide.
And in the streets below, a young man races through an ultra modern metropolis on the verge of a violent revolution....closing in on the terrible truth behind Exodus--and one man's dark vision for the future of mankind.
Welcome to Tiber City.