Book & Author Details:
Artificial by Jadah McCoy
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: April 4th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction
She struggles to feel human.
In 2256, the only remnants of civilization on Earth’s first colonized planet, Kepler, are the plant-covered buildings and the nocturnal, genetically spliced bug-people nesting within them: the Cull. During the day, Syl leaves her home in the sewers beneath Elite City to scavenge for food, but at night the Cull come looking for a meal of their own. Syl thought gene splicing died with the Android War a century ago. She thought the bugs could be exterminated, Elite city rebuilt, and the population replenished. She’s wrong.
Whoever engineered the Cull isn’t done playing God. Syl is abducted and tortured in horrific experiments which result in her own DNA being spliced, slowly turning her into one of the bugs. Now she must find a cure and stop the person responsible before every remaining man, woman, and child on Kepler is transformed into the abomination they fear.
He struggles not to.
For Bastion, being an android in the sex industry isn’t so bad. Clubbing beneath the streets of New Elite by day and seducing the rich by night isn’t an altogether undesirable occupation. But every day a new android cadaver appears in the slum gutters, and each caved in metal skull and heap of mangled wires whittles away at him.
Glitches—androids with empathy—are being murdered, their models discontinued and strung up as a warning. Show emotion, you die. Good thing Bastion can keep a secret, or he would be the next body lining the street.
He can almost live with hiding his emotions. That is, until a girl shows up in the slums—a human girl, who claims she was an experiment. And in New Elite, being a human is even worse than being a Glitch. Now Bastion must help the girl escape before he becomes victim to his too-human emotions, one way or another.
There is a sign, dingy and broken, half buried in the water and moss in front of me. Faded brown handprints streak across the large board, staining it with dried blood. It reads: If you died today, where would you spend eternity?
I’ve heard stories of places called heaven and hell—children’s tales meant to keep you in line, make you act right.
There is no “act right” on this planet anymore. The only line I follow is the edge of my blade plunging into the throat of one of those goddamn Cull. And if there’s anything I know, it’s that hell can’t be any worse than this place.
“Syl, we need to hurry,” Serge says.
He smacks my pack as he jogs past, and I nod. Lucca follows him, his gaze sliding off me with disgust.
We’re running late.
Waning sunlight reflects off the shattered windows of skyscrapers. Above us, the silhouettes of planets Zita, Zel, and KOI-10 are almost aligned, Zita’s rings shining and beautiful in the fading light. The marshgator chorus has begun, their croaks echoing in the humid air. Firewasps the length of my palm perch on swampy foliage and rusted metal, their needle arms washing one mandible and then the other. Each of these things is a warning that the sun will soon set.
When the sky is bruised purple, when the shattered glass no longer glints, that is when they wake. We have until then to gather food and haul ass back to the Sanctuary.
The last time I got distracted, people died. I don’t need Lucca’s hate-filled gaze to remind me of that, so I abandon my curiosity in the sign and follow the two men deeper into the city.
I find Serge bent low to the ground, his fingers against the soft earth as he studies the tracks left by the animal we’re hunting. Both men remain silent and still as they wait.
Wiping sweat from my brow, I crouch beside Serge, who puts his index finger to his mouth, warning me to be quiet before he points in front of us. I see it now, a moss-colored creature, each of its three heads grazing in the shade. It looks up at the sound of my feet rustling in the leaves. A vibrant red hood unfolds on each of the heads before it returns to grazing.
Serge quietly, so quietly, aims his gun—a crude metal object passed down from his father and grandfather—at the ablak. Lucca stops him, placing a hand against the weapon as he gives Serge and me a smug smile. He aims his phaser cannon at the animal, and I raise an eyebrow at Serge, who shrugs in reply, though his tense brow tells a not-so-relaxed story.
The shot rings out, and the tree beside the animal explodes in a spray of splinters. A blur of green and a panicked bleat tell me that ablak won’t be on the menu tonight. Bummer. I was looking forward to something other than century-old canned food.
Lucca looks dejected, and Serge is red in the face. He’d spent all that time tracking the animal only for it to be spooked. I pat Lucca’s shoulder and give him a smug smile of my own. He shrugs away from my touch.
“Better luck next time, hotshot.”
Jadah currently lives in Nashville, TN and works in law. When not babysitting attorneys, she can be found juicing her brain for creative ideas or fantasizing about her next trip out of the country (or about Tom Hiddleston as Loki – it’s always a toss up when she fantasizes).
She grew up in rural Arkansas, yet can still write good and sometimes even wears shoes! She did date her first cousin for a while but they decided against marriage for the sake of the gene pool.
Her true loves are elephants, cursing, and sangria – in that order. If you find an elephant that curses like a sailor whilst drinking sangria, you’re dangerously close to becoming her next romantic victim – er, partner.
She cut her writing teeth on badly written, hormone-driven fanfiction (be glad that’s out of her system), and her one true dream is to have wildly erotic fanfiction with dubious grammar written about her own novels. Please make her dreams come true.