|The cover art for Aftermath Horizon hasn't been decided yet,|
but this one could be close. I took this picture
on Mt. Rainier in Washington State and added
the craters using PhotoShop.
I just sent off the final edit pass for Aftermath Horizon. I consider the novel my best work to date. I know, I know, all authors feel that way about their latest novel, but this book is different than anything I have written to date. For one, it's a young adult book, not a raunchy romp with Miss Havana. Aftermath Horizon is set in the near future at a time when terrorism has devastated the Earth. The few people who survived have been recovering for only 121 years, so most of the planet is wild. The book is a romantic adventure, told from the point of view of Beth, a 17-year-old understudy and computer-selected bride. Beth’s assigned husband, Professor James—a much older man—is on a quest to understand a mysterious shard found years earlier by his father. Both are convinced that the shard could hold the key to mankind’s future. Here’s a sample:
After lashing our three trunks to the base of the catamaran mast, we position the mainsail at forty-five degrees to the inrushing sea breeze and move north at a good speed. With each passing hour, I am more thankful for calm seas than the hour before. The fear of the sea is engrained in me now, and I might never overcome it. On the other hand, David seems quite happy with the serenity of the open water. I don’t quite understand it. Considering the death of his father and our own harrowing experience on the Marco Polo, I wonder how he can be so calm. Part of me is thankful for it. The other part perplexed, but his smile is contagious and keeps me going.
We will attempt to make port in the Old World city of Tripoli today—about seventy-six kilometers north of Beirut. Tripoli was both ancient and huge before the BHS extermination. It should provide interesting opportunities for exploration. Perhaps being a cultural anthropologist isn’t so bad after all.
Tripoli has a fascinating past. Perhaps, one day in the far future, more will be added to its rich history because of its incredible location. While David tends to our course and the catamaran cuts through the calm blue-green water, I review notes from my study in Hope. I still find it interesting that the son of King Darius, Xerxes, didn’t have the same drive to win at war that his father did. Although it is raw speculation, I have come to believe the difference between the two is related to the shard. Xerxes’ father succeeded because he had a charge from God, a charge his son was missing.
Early Canaanites established the city of Tripoli, although they were called Phoenicians by the Greeks. Having established trade throughout the Mediterranean, the Greeks became a serious market threat to the Phoenicians, who convinced King Darius to send a military expedition to invade Greece. The Phoenicians promised to provide ships and crews to the Persians in return for autonomy, and thus precipitated a protracted fifth century B.C. war against the troublesome Greeks.
When King Darius died, his son attempted to bring the unruly Greeks under control, but his defeat was a disaster for Persian prestige. When some of his captains presented themselves to explain the loss, Xerxes executed them—an act that so alarmed other commanders, they deserted. For the next fifteen years, the Phoenicians didn’t participate in the war. Then, in 465 B.C., Athens threatened Cyprus. That drew the Phoenicians back into the fray for the next seventy-five years.
At the same time, Egypt successfully rebelled against Persia. That uprising encouraged the Phoenicians and Cyprians to join together in revolt in 366 B.C. Meanwhile, the city-states of Aradus, Sidon, and Tyre united under a common parliament held on neutral ground in Tripolis, the tri-city, and that’s how Tripoli got its name.
Decaying Old World cities pass by to our starboard—Zaytun, Magharat, Mar Yusuf, and others. My excitement doesn’t rise until we pass Al Mina, round the nearby point, and head into Tripoli harbor. The sun is setting by the time we drop anchor in the lee of the harbor seawall. For fear of animals, we will stay aboard tonight. Tomorrow is soon enough to enter the city. From our position at anchor, looking up at a city that still retains some of its skyline, it is apparent the effects of Project Sanitize didn’t reach this far south.
We wake early the next morning, endure a repetitive but leisurely breakfast of dog, figs, and grapes, and then paddle the catamaran to the beach. To protect against marauding animals, we tether the boat away from shore with a line anchored at the water’s edge so we can pull it in when we return. If animals are able to get to our trunks onboard, we’ll be in deep trouble. With the boat secured, we begin the trek toward the city’s center, both armed with .38 pistols. David also carries a 30-30 rifle, just in case.
The city must have been beautiful in its prime, but we aren’t here for a sightseeing trip. The city is a treasure trove of antiquities. If additional shards exist, we might find them here. Decay is pervasive. Much of the city was built before the advent of modern building standards, and much has already crumbled. A bank building made from solid rock still stands, but its roof and doors disappeared long ago. We step inside with care. We’ve seen few rabbits here and are less concerned about dogs, but we are still wary.
Most of the bank’s interior fixtures have decayed and vanished over time. Only a few marble tables and stainless steel components remain. The vault door is open. The panic caused by the approaching wave of BHS death must have swept through the city with such great speed that only the front door was closed. The interior of the vault is well-preserved, and we marvel at what we find there. Ignoring the safety deposit boxes, we spot a stack of gold bars in one corner, forming a cube easily a meter on a side—a fortune of no value. Even as we look it over now, it means nothing. Our catamaran has little room, and the contents of our trunks mean far more to us than the entire stack of gold.
Aftermath Horizon should soon be published by Eternal Press. It will be available on Create Space and as an e-book on Amazon. If you like romantic swashbucklers, this is the book for you.
Thanks for the opportunity to present this excerpt,
James L. Hatch