BioMy grandpa never graduated high school. He retired from a steel mill in the mid-70s. He was uneducated, but a voracious reader. As a kid, I’d go through his bookshelves of musty paperback novels, pulling Piers Anthony and Isaac Asimov off the shelf and promising to bring them back. I was fascinated by robots that could think and act like people. What happened when they died?
Writing is sort of a thought experiment to explore human nature and possibilities. What makes us human? What is true nature?
I’m also a big fan of plot twists.
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Maze: The Waking of Grey Grimm Tony Bertauski
Grey isn’t sleeping. Sunny Grimm finds a strap around his head with an embossed symbol between his eyes. This is the mark of awareness leaping, where players launch into alternate realities and anything goes. Investors make millions. Critics, however, refuse to call it a game. They argue that reality confusion will end humanity. Labels aside, there are many who play and many who lose. The consequences are steep. Sunny goes on a mad search for her son and the people responsible for allowing him to play. The only way she will find him is to not lose herself in the search. The Maze is more than a game.
Foreverland is Dead Tony Bertauski
Six teenage girls wake with no memories. One of them is in a brick mansion, her blonde hair as shiny as her shoes. The others are in a cabin, their names tagged to the inside of their pants. Their heads, shaved. Slashes mark the cabin wall like someone has been counting. Hundreds of them. There’s wilderness all around and one dead adult. The girls discover her body rotting somewhere in the trees. As the weeks pass, they band together to survive the cold, wondering where they are and how they got there. And why. When an old man arrives with a teenage boy, the girls learn of a faraway island called Foreverland where dreams come true and anything is possible. But Foreverland is dead. In order to escape the wilderness, they’ll have to understand where they are. And who they are.
Humbug: The Unwinding of Ebenezer Scrooge Tony Bertauski
Jacob Marley is dead. His business partner, Eb Scrooge, is left to run Avocado, Inc., an innovative technology business, all alone. An introverted shut-in locked away in a Colorado mansion, he changes the company’s mission statement. Only his servant droids keep him company. Until the gifts arrive. Each Christmas, a messenger forces Eb to look at his life in hopes he will change. But change does not happen in a single night. And only Eb can make it happen. But who is sending the messengers?
The Making of Socket Greeny Tony Bertauski
Socket Greeny is not normal. His funny name and snow-white hair are the least of his problems. When a devious prank goes bad, Socket and his friends realize they are about to lose everything they’ve worked for in the alternate reality universe of virtualmode. But when the data drain encroaches on Socket’s subconscious memories, some mysterious force erases the event entirely. Subtle clues suggest there's more to him than he knows and will lead him to discover why his mom is always at work. And just how far from normal he is. The beginning of Socket Greeny’s epic journey to save himself begins with the making. The universe is depending on him.
Maze: A Sci-fi Novella Tony Bertauski
Ten players. Memories wiped, their bodies each dropped into a tank. Their consciousness thrown into the Maze—a virtual reality where anyone is anything and anywhere. Battles are fought, riddles are solved. To win a lifetime of riches is escape, one has to escape the Maze. First, they have to remember who they are. Some never do.
The Annihilation of Foreverland Tony Bertauski
When kids awake on an island, they’re told there was an accident. Before they can go home, they will visit Foreverland, an alternate reality that will heal their minds. Reed dreams of a girl that tells him to resist Foreverland. He doesn’t remember her name, but knows he once loved her. He’ll have to endure great suffering and trust his dream. And trust he’s not insane. Danny Boy, the new arrival, meets Reed’s dream girl inside Foreverland. She’s stuck in the fantasy land that no kid can resist. Where every heart’s desire is satisfied. Why should anyone care how Foreverland works?
Seeds of Foreverland Tony Bertauski
Harold Ballard's breaking point came in the sixth grade. John Lively was a mouth-breather that no one cared about, an over-sized sixth grader voted most likely to see jail. In Harold's opinion, God had wasted a body on John Lively. Harold was a curious loner that sat in the back of the classroom. Unlike John's family, Harold's parents loved him. They just didn't have time for him. They spent days in the basement working on something that would change the world. Sometimes they were down there for weeks. Harold was tired of being forgotten and pushed around. So he pushed back. That day would change the world.
Halfskin Tony Bertauski
"Underground Reviews 2015 Top Pick Award" Biomites are artificial stem cells that can replace any cell in your body. No more kidney failure, no severed spines or blood disease. No cancer. Pharmaceuticals become obsolete. With each dose of biomites, we become stronger, we become smarter and prettier. We become better. At what point are we no longer human?
The Discovery of Socket Greeny Tony Bertauski
Work has always come first for Socket Greeny's mother, ever since his father died. But when she shows him the inner workings of the Paladin Nation, he discovers why. Paladins traverse the planet through wormholes to keep the world safe, but from what, they won't say. Although his parents were not actually one of them, Socket is different. He soon finds himself in the center of controversy and betrayal when he's anointed the Paladin Nation’s prodigy. He didn't ask for the "blessing" of psychic powers and the ability to timeslice and he doesn't want to be responsible for the world. He just wants to go home and back to school and be normal again. But, sometimes, life doesn't give us that privilege, his mother tells him.
Drayton (The Taker) Tony Bertauski
Drayton once believed he was a vampire. He doesn’t know what he is. Or why he has lived for thousands of years. He takes not his victim’s blood but the silky essence of their soul during their last breath. Often mistaken for the Angel of Death, his victims sometimes ask for forgiveness. Sometimes he delivers. After all, he is not without sin. Drayton finds Andrew Drummond dying on the roadside. He absorbs the last of his life, but not before Andrew demands vengeance. In those last moments, Drayton understands what Andrew desires. He sees all of his hardships, the crosses he has been forced bear. Drayton will find the source of his suffering. He will show his transgressor Andrew's pain. He will show him the depth and taste of true suffering.
Halfskin (The Vignettes) Tony Bertauski
A synthetic stem cell called a biomite can replace any cell in your body. They are infallible. As our percentages of biomites rise, we become stronger, we become smarter and prettier. We become better. Can we resist the temptation of perfection? Are we still human when our bodies are replaced by synthetic replications? If biomites exist, laws will be imposed to prevent excess and abuse. Those with 50% biomites will no longer be considered human. They will be halfskin. Halfksin: The Vignettes is a compendium of short stories found throughout the Halfskin trilogy, a harbinger of what humanity’s pursuit of perfection may look like.
Claus: Legend of the Fat Man Tony Bertauski
In the early 1800s, Nicholas, Jessica and Jon Santa attempt the first human trek to the North Pole and stumble upon an ancient race of people left over from the Ice Age. They are short, fat and hairy. They slide across the ice on scaly soles and carve their homes in the ice that floats on the Arctic Ocean. The elven are adapted to life in the extreme cold. They are as wise as they are ancient. Their scientific advancements have yielded great inventions -- time-stopping devices and gravitational spheres that build living snowmen and genetically-modified reindeer that leap great distances. They’ve even unlocked the secrets to aging. For 40,000 years, they have lived in peace. Until now.