Hallucinatory cyberpunk. Meta sci-fi satire. The future is futile. 2083. A pollute-addicted therapist named Meme battles his way through his mind and LA at the seat of his pants alongside a beautiful android escort with a surprising secret. With the Federal Corporate Government hunting him, will he make it to safety in time? The hunt is on. Part techno thriller, part dystopian science fiction, Life is a Beautiful Thing is a series that questions what it means to be human; a collection of novels that offers a shocking glimpse into a dark future fueled by corporate deceit and high-end intoxicants. Pick up a signed and personalized copy on the author's website, www.harmoncooper.com
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What inspired you to write this series?
I was living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 2011, one of the most polluted cities on earth (during the winter). It can reach -40 in Genghis Khan's favorite breeding grounds, and people living in slums around the city burn just about anything to stay warm. I challenged myself to write a book in a single month, and needed some ideas to do so. Rewind to 2007. In 2007, I had this vision of a world in which there were androids (called Humandroids) that needed therapy to help them deal with the facts they had to constantly serve humans. I even wrote a few chapters, but could never get the voice right. Using this as inspiration, I wrote Life is a Beautiful Thing (Book One) in a single month. Since I had to wear a pollution mask at the time, the idea of designer inhalants and a man, Meme, who was addicted to these 'pollutes' made sense.
Years passed. I put the book away and forgot about it so I could pursue other writing projects. My brother, an avid sci-fi reader, read an early copy and told me I should pursue it. I tried to write Book Two in Korea in 2013, but this floundered after about seven chapters. In December 2014, I was faced with a decision we all must make (but with different mediums/life scenarios) -- write what you want and how you want to write it or write what they want and how they want you to write it. Conform, or break conformity and suffer the consequences. I chose the latter. I pulled Life is a Beautiful Thing Book One out and revamped it. I wrote Book Two, Book Three and Book Four over the next since months and acquired an editor who knew my work better than I did. With my editor George C. Hopkins on board, the series was launched.
Life is a Beautiful Thing is equal parts cyberpunk, literary sci-fi and metaphysical, written at a thriller pacing. It was inspired by famous works of meta-fiction like Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions; hallucinatory works like Pinchbeck's Breaking Open the Head and Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; to modern genre-bending books like Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, Welsh's Trainspotting and anything by Chuck Palahnuik.
Why is this book so crazy?
Who said it was crazy? Oh, some reviews. Yes, this book alternates between the psyche of a Humandroid therapist, Meme Lamar, our sort-of protagonist, who is addicted to pollutes (read: designer inhalants). It also has third person chapters that revolve around the other characters. One thing that makes the book feel crazy is the switch in tenses -- Meme's chapters are first person, present tense, everyone else's chapters are third person, past tense. This book was designed to break the rules.
Another thing that makes it crazy is the voice. Meme's voice is a pop culture heavy combo of Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs with sprinkles of A Clockwork Orange and Confederacy of Dunces thrown in for good measure. When Meme is hallucinating, the reader is hallucinating alongside him, when he is sober (rarely), the reader sits like a sober Iago (Jafar's parrot) on his shoulder, watching the madness unfold.The series features body-switching, which allows a person to switch bodies with another person. How does this work? Well, I won't post it here, but there is a mock Wikipedia article in the second book that goes over this phenomenon. The series has several main characters, from a prostitute turned professional assassin Humandroid named Rinchi to Nelly, a twenty-something pregnant lady who goes through a series of misfortunes to become a vengeful terrorist. Other big players include Sauria, the CEO of ExEx (Executive Executions) and MercSecure as well as Bill Bleak, the CEO of a body-masking app called BlurYou. Book Two introduces one of the most important characters in the series, Keva, possibly the most deadly woman on the planet.
The craziness and bizarre nature of this series is rooted in its real life possibilities and the shift from popular good guys to popular bad guys seen in recent entertainment and exemplified in Klosterman's book, I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains. Nearly everyone is a 'bad guy' in the traditional sense in Life is a Beautiful Thing. Sauria and his crew think Meme, the Humandroid therapist, is one of the most dangerous terrorists this side of Bin Ladin. Meme himself is a danger to... well... himself. The people that are evil, or at least bad, all have very good reasons for behaving the way they behave. In a nutshell: this is 2083 and the world has gone mad and what seems extreme to us, is normal to people approaching the twenty-second century. Bad is good -- put the tropes on the rope.
Wait... what?You should probably just start Book One by this point. This series is an ocean of filth and detritus that deserves closer examination as there is much more under the surface than meets the eye (including sharks, treasures, mermaids with curious parts, a sunken ship or two, and more references to great works of literature and pop culture than can adequately be contained in a pair of Sigur Ros-esque parenthesis). This book is designed to mirror the confusion of our main character as it starts. Let the waves roll over you and enjoy.
The Red Book are out now, Books 1-4, completed. The Blue Books (Books 5-8) will follow next year.
------------------------------------------------------------Read an excerpt from Book One below:------------------------------------------------------------
I awake screaming in an aeros. I'm lying on the floorboard, coughing up blood. My nostrils are on fire. Tiny glistening specks of light seep out from the corners of my eyes. My mouth is dry. Violent grindsmash oozes from the speakers.
A man and a woman are screaming simultaneously. They yell: I'm still, I'm still an animal! I'm still, I'm still an animal! I'm still, I'm still an animal! The bass keeps cutting off right before the next drop is supposed to hit. A cringable sound. It hurts my ears to describe the sound.
I'm confused and delirious. Vertiginous. It feels like my brain is bleeding. My lungs are fighting to suck in air. I'm wheezing and the cuffs of my white jacket are stained in crimson. I cough again.
'Meme, just hold on...'
'Yeshi! What? Where!?' I yell over the music.
'At the bar. You talked to Nelly. Some guys came. I don't know who they were, but they may be related to Sauria at ExEx. That's what I think, anyway. Nelly maced the fuck out of them. Everyone in the bar fell except the Humandroid bartender, myself and Nelly. She turned and walked out. I recorded everything if you want to watch it.'
'Sauria did this? My eyes...' I sob. 'Am I going blind?'
'No. It's the mist she sprayed. I've seen it used before. It's a tear gas mixed with a soporific chemical called Tenofizzle 661. The burning is from the tear gas. You'll be fine, all your vitals are normal.'
'Yeshi?' I ask. I look up at her and make out a blur clothed in white. The tears burn as they streak down my face.
She laughs. 'Yes, Meme, it's me. Taking care of you again!'
'You're wonderful...' I say, coughing more blood onto the floor of the cab.
'Watch it with the blood back there!' the driver shouts.
Yeshi presses a button on the door and the divider between the front and back seat starts to rise. 'Any idea who those guys were? They were wearing chip-maskers.'
'No idea. Didn't one of them have a revolver?' I could have sworn I heard a gun go off. The ringing in my right ear confirmed this.
'Yeah, the bullet ricocheted off the floor and broke the window. It's amazing it didn't hit anyone. Haven't seen someone get shot before,' she says in a curious voice.
'Where are we going?'
'I'm taking you to my friend's place. The chemicals inside your body are in the process of mixing as we speak. You're about to be in a very bad place...' she says.
'Who are you taking me to?'
'Do Electric Sheep Dream of Fear and Loathing in the Monkey House? this guy can write.' - Amazon reviewer---'Strangely thrilling; imaginative and depressingly fresh.' - Liquid Frost, Amazon top 100 reviewer ---'Serious page turner.' -Amazon reviewer---'If Palahniuk wrote Trainspotting as dysptopian futuristic sci-fi, it would be this book.' -- Amazon top 500 reviewer
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Book Description CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. This item is printed on demand. Bookseller Inventory # zk1511873388