Today we bring to you a special Guest Article by Mr. Frederick Crook.
Mr. Crook, take it away...
Y. Correa has been kind enough to ask me: How did I come up with the premise for Campanelli: Sentinel? Frank Campanelli, the main character of this novel and the previously self-published e-book, Campanelli: The Ping Tom Affair is the product of a future Earth that has gone through what I have called, “The Great Exodus”. That is the idea I have created that approaches dystopia in what I hope was from a unique direction. For the vast majority of humans, they have simply relocated to a “Super Earth” named Alethea, a wonderful, but sadly, fictional planet lying on the other side of a star approximately thirty light years away. Over the period of fifty or so years, billions of people relocate to this planet, at first simply to be pioneers, but after a time, as the best and brightest leave, it becomes a near necessity. Technology here on Earth snaps back like a rubber band and the quality of life for everyone declines.
In Frank Campanelli’s time, that is 2110 for the sake of “Sentinel”, this problem becomes so severe that the world governments pass an anti-migration law. The problem is that the starships sent out sixty years earlier are still returning. Frank and is partner are transferred into the “Sentinel” squad of the Chicago Police Department which is in charge of quelling human trafficking networks.
The truly interesting thing about Frank Campanelli is that he is blind.
While living in New York, the career police detective experiences a fire in his apartment building which kills his wife and daughter and takes his eyesight from him. The details of the tragedy may well come out in future books. His eyes are replaced by medical grade bio-electronic implants. While many of the characters of my other works feature bio-electronics, Frank’s are more fully functional in order to provide him with full 3-dimensional vision.
The following is an excerpt from Campanelli: Sentinel:
Frank took manual control of the car and set its alert status to ‘Condition Two’. The car’s computer sent out its signal to traffic lights and other computerized vehicles, clearing the way for them. The blue lights flashed and the siren whooped and warbled to warn pedestrians and non-computerized vehicles of their presence.
Campanelli adjusted his lenses to zoom in just enough that he saw the leading edge of his vehicle’s hood and beyond. This gave him advanced warning of upcoming pavement hazards. He kept his thought commands on visual adjustments, putting them back to default when the car was in traffic and zooming forward again once the road was clear ahead. Frank’s full-service lenses had an advantage over the standard bio-electronic breed. His fully encompassed the surface of the eyes to give him the benefit of peripheral vision. When he magnified his view, it was not merely like looking through binoculars, it was akin to being physically thrust forward a few feet, albeit with some distortion at the edges of his field of view. With this advantage, Frank Campanelli had the reputation of being a rather insane driver, but from his point of view, he simply saw more detail than others and drove to match.
As it was Saturday morning, the traffic was light. As a result, Frank could get the car up to eighty miles an hour at times, broken up by sudden slowing and lane changing to avoid a vehicle or road hazard. This unsettled Marcus Williams to no end, forcing the veteran to increase his serotonin levels as he held on to the door handle and center console while plastering his feet into the floorboards.
The engine whined and whistled with acceleration, alternating with the crying of rubber whenever the brakes were hit hard or the steering yoke was twitched to go around something.
Marcus was just glad they were not in pursuit, otherwise Frank would be in a real hurry.
Campanelli slowed at the corner of State and Madison and hung a tight left. The powerful car accelerated like a shot, but the siren went quiet. Marcus dared to open his eyes and saw that the road ahead was deserted of pedestrians, cars and potholes.
The siren sounded again as they approached the intersection at Dearborn. Dodging around a CTA bus, Frank made the turn and accelerated again, though only briefly as they were close to their destination. Suddenly, the siren quieted and the motor wound down to its near-silent normalcy. Marcus opened his eyes in time to see the blue lights cycle one last time before going out. The light at West Washington Street still turned green for them, indicating that Frank had set the car to ‘Condition Four’: ‘No lights, no sirens, just an officer in kind of a hurry’, as it had been explained to him once by someone he could not remember.
I’m sure many of you caught the references to thought commands and serotonin levels. The bio-electronics devices that I feature in any of my books and short stories are in our future. Today, technologies exist that have the ability to tie into a person’s brain to link their thoughts to a computer. At this point, the technology is focused on those that truly need it; the physically infirm or disabled. But experiments in other areas are being conducted now. Have a gander at this article: Tech Embeddable Implants
Imagine bio-electronic implants that can be controlled by a thought via a miniature pc. Chances are you’re already carrying one on you. The computing power in your smartphone will be advanced and further miniaturized, making such features as I describe in Campanelli: Sentinel and my earlier novels and short stories, commercially available.
But, “Sentinel” is not all about implants and futuristic devices. None of my stories are. Like my very first novel, The Dregs of Exodus, it is the people that I focus on. My characters are in a unique position of having to live in a world that is in a steady decline, not an Armageddon-like scenario or an Apocalyptic, tragic end. I sure hope readers will appreciate that change. Like “Star Trek”, the vast majority of humankind is prosperous, in my post-“Great Exodus” creations they’re just being so elsewhere.
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