Nickie Abshire

One Nation Under Blood by Tarrin P. Lupo

One Nation Under Blood by Tarrin P. Lupo

With an official release date of October 30, 2012, just in time for Halloween, author Tarrin Lupo presents us with a new sort of vampire tale that is certain to make any libertarian’s skin crawl. While not intended to be a traditional horror novel, One Nation Under Blood is nonetheless a frightening tale of what can happen when government regulation and patriotism go too far.

In Lupo’s dystopian novel, it is discovered that blood transfusions can offer more than the gift of life to a needy recipient. Performed correctly, they serve as a fountain of youth, transferring rejuvenating properties from the blood of a child into the veins of an adult. Older generations are thrilled at the chance to become healed of their ailments and erase years from their appearance, leading to a huge demand for young blood that creates an unparalleled shift in the balance of wealth from the old to the young.

When blood transfusions become a target for politicians eager to profit from the new technology, the demand overwhelms the willing donor population and a new source of young blood must be found. By the power of legislation and with the help of a successful propaganda campaign, orphans and the children of immigrants are soon forced into concentration camps where they are made to give up their blood as a patriotic service to their country.

By telling the story through the eyes of those being taken advantage of, the author allows us to put ourselves in the place of those who face similar discrimination today. Although the novel is fiction, readers will find many similarities between the story world and our own. Perhaps the scariest notion is that we can easily imagine our society being swayed into nearly identical unspeakable actions under the pretense of protecting the children.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline is a science fiction fan and video game enthusiast who, as a former tech support employee, has spent most of his working hours surfing ’80s pop culture on the internet. As an author, he has successfully drawn from these interests to write an engaging story that weaves new technology with low-tech nostalgia. Although he has previously written about the gaming world (his screenplay Thundercade follows a video gamer’s quest to restore his championship gaming title), Cline takes the concept to an exciting new level in his science fiction novel Ready Player One, Prometheus Award finalist and our June Lightmonthly Read, which offers the reader a full immersion into the world of virtual reality gaming.

Ready Player One begins in the year 2044, and protagonist Wade Watts doesn’t have much going for him in the desolate Portland Avenue Stacks. He’s an overweight, unpopular orphan living with his aunt in a crowded RV park, where the RVs are stacked up to 20 units high in an effort to accommodate everyone in an overpopulated city fraught with power outages and gunfire. Wade finds solace by playing video games and watching reruns of family sitcoms from the ’80s, trying to lose himself in a decade when the world was a simpler and friendlier place. He also spends much of his free time logged into the OASIS, a massively multiplayer online game that has evolved into a virtual reality-based global network.

The online world of OASIS is not without conflict, however. The creator of OASIS, James Halliday, died five years before without naming an heir. At his behest, a contest is being held to determine who will control the OASIS. In his video will, Halliday explains that he has hidden three keys (Copper, Jade, and Crystal) to three gates in the simulated world of the OASIS. The first person to pass through all three gates will become heir to Halliday’s multi-billion dollar estate and gain full control of the OASIS.

Desperate to find a way out of the Stacks, Wade becomes a gunter (short for “egg hunter,” a reference the Easter egg hidden in the video game Adventure). Because Halliday had an infatuation with ’80s pop culture, his death sparks a global obsessive interest; spiked hair and acid-washed jeans come back into style, and gunters attentively study the decade’s fads and trends in hopes of discovering a clue to the keys’ locations.

Wade hopes his own vast knowledge of the decade will give him an edge in the competition, but the odds are against him. He must race to find the keys before they are found by another gunter — or worse, by the Sixers, employees of the dangerous Nolan Sorrento and Innovative Online Industries, a corporation set on gaining control of OASIS at any cost.

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