So after months and months of writing, editing, planning, and more editing, The Isolatarium is finally available. You can purchase it via Amazon for Kindle HERE. You can also purchase it as a PDF from Digitalis HERE (though if you’d like another file format like mobi, epub, etc – just get in touch and I’ll sort you). That link also includes the free compilation/soundtrack I put together in conjunction with the book, featuring new/unreleased music by artists who I listened to a lot during the writing and editing process. If you just want the compilation (it’s free), go HERE.
I’m simultaneously proud and terrified to have this out there, but it’s been such a labor of love these past few months that it was time to finally let it go. The process has been a real boon creatively speaking, though. Not just from a writing perspective (though certainly from there), but also musically. A lot of ideas for the new Charlatan record crystallized during the writing of The Isolatarium. It’s all forced me very far outside my comfort zone and that’s been a very good thing.
Special thanks to Matt Blackall and Eden for all the editing they did on this. Their help was instrumental. And also Keith Rankin, who did the cover and did such an amazing job.
Before I sign off, here’s the short description that Eden & I wrote for the book. I think it sums it up nicely without giving much away:
In the late 24th century, hacker Diadem Streng idles inside an isolated prison in space, tormented by his past. Dragged into dangerous experiments by his charming girlfriend, Celandine, and her dream of reviving Earth’s dead oceans, he learns a dark secret that could threaten the control of the corporate elite, the Magnates. The only way to avoid such a fate is to destroy everything he and Cela had worked so hard for before the Magnates ruin their lives. Ultimately, he is locked away in a sterile white hell, forced to obsessively search for the truth in his own memories.
And here’s the first chapter, to get you started:
September 15, 2386
Rain fell in sheets, shrouding us in liquid camouflage. We wore full-body black latex suits with full face masks. Covered from head to toe, we looked like sex fetishists escaped from an S&M club. I’d concealed a portable hacker unit, as thin and flimsy as vintage photographic film when not in use, by attaching it to the small of my back under the suit. As soon as I found a nook to crouch in outside the view of the security cameras, she helped peel it off my sweat-soaked body.
“Are you sure it’s still going to work? Even though it’s so wet?” she quizzed, talking faster than usual trying, and failing, to hide her anxiety. “God, the inside of your suit is wetter than the outside! This is fucking gross!” Insults were another way to deal with stress.
“It’ll be fine, just give me the damn thing,” I demanded, snatching it from her hands, laying it on the ground. To turn it on, I ran my middle finger back and forth three times across the device’s top edge while holding the bottom left corner with the forefinger of my opposite hand. I’d programmed this specific motion password protocol to keep unwanted users from accessing the machine. It sprang to life; light poured from the panel as it stiffened. “See?”
“Just get on with it so we can get out of here.” I pulled up the building schematics of Axxess Pharmaceuticals’ storage facility and transmitted it to her optical overlay, a tiny projection unit hidden just above the right eye-hole in her mask. I had already marked the room on the map that housed the samples we were after. “Why am I the one going in? Why can’t you do this? I feel like I’m taking all the risk here while you’re safe outside.” She was stalling.
“Because once you get in, it’s going to take every bit of skill I have to keep the security system shut down and your path clear. And, I’m sorry to say, it’s beyond your abilities.” Any chance to get a little dig in, even if it was right before we were about to break a dozen different laws. She pretended not to hear. I continued typing furiously and familiarized myself with how the Axxess system worked. Complex systems like these always had unintended flaws; it was just a matter of following the right trail of code and finding the unintentional overlaps. It was disarmingly simple once I knew where to look, but there was a seemingly infinite number of different segments to juggle at once. Once I had the cameras’ motion-sensing system in my control, I nodded for her to make her move and she disappeared around the corner.
As I blasted through firewalls and tricked the security system into thinking nothing was amiss, we were on track and everything was fine. I hit the first stumbling block when I tried to shut off the lights in a laboratory in an adjacent wing of the building but accidentally darkened the entire floor. It wasn’t a huge problem; I was just trying to leave some random bread crumbs that would lead investigators off our trail in case the break-in was ever found out. Correcting the mistake wasn’t difficult, but distracted me long enough that I hadn’t unlocked the window she was exiting from in time. I had the security holo feed in my viewport and could see her crouched against the wall in full panic mode. Quickly, I typed in the string of numbers that opened the latch without an alarm sounding. She jerked her head toward the window when it made a click, pushed it open and scampered out, thankfully prudent enough to close it behind her. I locked it back up.
Thirty seconds later and she was rounded the corner, firing a furious death stare at me.
“Sorry! Sorry! There was a slight glitch I had to deal-”
She cut me off and slapped my upper arm with force. “Goddamnit! You could have got me killed!”
“I’m sorry, fuck! But you’re fine, we’re fine.” She slapped my arm again, less vigorously.
“I don’t know, I don’t know! I might have left some kind of trace or something while I was freaking out, waiting for that fucking window. I don’t know!” Her panic was rising again. I checked her suit and saw no punctures, nothing that would have left any blood or hair or DNA. I tried to reassure her and calm her down.
“You’re fine. There’s nothing wrong. We did it! We fucking did it!” I took the specimen bottle, slid it into the unzipped pocket on my sleeve and sealed it up tight. “Take a deep breath and let’s get out of here.” This whole operation was her idea in the first place and she knew how risky it would be. I shut down the hack, eliminating any evidence we’d ever been there, as we slithered away into the aqueous night.