Last winter I was shopping around a post apocalyptic sci/fi romance which I called Prism. With the state of the industry and the narrow market I got rejected at several publishers. So I decided to revamp the project using the elements I loved and going with my strengths. Since I write both historical and scifi romance you will see how I blended them together in the second proposal.
Prism Things are not always what they seem.
Setting: A dark future
There are times in history when progress takes a great leap forward. The twentieth century was such a time. In that century, innumerable discoveries were made that changed the face of the world.
Late in the twenty-first century a synthetic was created called admanium. It was touted that this synthetic could bond with any living tissue. People with missing limbs could have new ones bonded into their skeleton and with the advent of synthetic skin no one would know the difference between the original and the replacement. Further experiments were done to see if the admanium could be used to replace failing organs such as kidneys, the liver, or even the heart but while the substance could bond, it could not replicate the purposes of those organs.
During these experiments another discovery was made… a discovery that changed everything. Admanium displayed the ability to bond with brain cells. Alzheimers and Dementia were no longer a dreaded result of the aging process. Through outside stimulus those that suffered from these diseases were able to live out their lives in a normal way and recall their loved ones.
This led to another discovery. A discovery made by a group heavily involved in researching connectomics which is the wiring of the brain. Researchers could trace the estimated 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses and the human mind became an instrument of great power. It also proved beyond any doubt that the human mind held paranormal capabilities. An International Institute for Paranormal Research was formed with scientists from around the world. They discovered that Admanium administered to subjects with paranormal tendencies could achieve mind control over those who did not possess such talents. When the discovery was made public, the general outcry was one of fear and paranoia instead of joy.
Everyone wanted the power. Nations worried that others may use it against them. Mass hysteria broke out around the world. Paranoia became the norm. War broke out and biological weapons were used. The great cities of the world were decimated and the nations of the world became isolated from each other by circumstance and by choice. The biologics also affected the weather into extremes. The far north became an artic wasteland, earthquakes destroyed everything west of the Rockies and the East coast began at the Appalachian Mountains. Islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific disappeared beneath giant waves, along with Southeast Asia and Japan.
Some people survived because of immunity to the biologics. Others were forever genetically altered. Some sought refuge in the mountains and forests. Others stayed closed to what were once the cities and did what they could to build a new society. In times such as these the strongest take control. The IPR (Institute for Paranormal Research) formed a new society in the Midwestern United States and with new technology developed from the admanium enclosed the surviving generations in a dome. All of the Dome citizens were encouraged to lead peaceful lives through subliminal messaging enhanced by the admanium.
Not everyone went inside the dome. Some of the survivors did not want to be controlled by the IIPR who felt they knew what was best for everyone. There were in the IIPR who thought they should have all the power. Then there were some who just wanted to be left alone.
The dome is run by a ruling council which oversees the administration of the PRISMs. (Paranormal Research Instruments of Subliminal Messaging or PRISMs) The PRISMs are culled from the general population by the IPR to be instruments of the government. In reality they are nothing more than tools, used for their paranormal abilities and attached to the computers that regulate every aspect of life inside the dome. The PRISMs are controlled by the governing body which then make “suggestions” to the PRISMs who in turn use subliminal messaging to keep the population under control. Everyone is happy and everyone is at peace and order is kept in society. The PRISMs have no idea of what they are doing in reality. Due to the mind control that the council holds over them, they live in a dream like state called symlife where they think they are functioning normally. In reality they are kept plugged into the computers where they eventually wither up and die. There are some who hold value and the use of muscle stimulants and intravenous feeding keeps them alive for a while and easy prey for the whims of the council.
Those who do rebel against the council suffer a worse fate. Some are executed. Some, who are deemed to have potential, are reintroduced into society with some alterations made by the admanium. They become servants and are used to work the baser tasks that keep the society running. Others are incorporated into the army after being outfitted with the admanium so that they may better serve the society that they harmed with their criminal acts. All of these have their memories and consciousness erased so that all they know is obeying the orders given to them without thought.
Edmond Swain is part of the ruling council. That is not enough for him. He thinks there should be one person in charge instead of a council. But in order to achieve that goal he needs an edge. He needs a PRISM that is stronger than the others. He begins a quiet search for someone who he can use to accomplish his goal.
Outside the dome people are just trying to survive. They have their own independent society. They till the earth and scrounge for whatever they can find to make life more livable. They have to put up with disease, the elements and the wild beasts that roam the deep forests that have reclaimed the earth. They also have to deal with the lawlessness of the Scrabbers who inhabit the mountains and only attack at night. The so called Scrabbers are descended from those who suffered genetic mutation due to the Great Biologic War.
Those who live ouside believe freedom is worth their struggle to survive. They are free of the whims of the IPR ruling council, except when the council decides their lawlessness needs to be controlled and send their mechanized army to attack and acquire workers for the dome.
Merritt and Dax live outside the dome in the place called The Real. Dax’s father is the leader of the group and hopes that Dax will take over some day. Dax doesn’t think about that now as he is in love with Merritt. He knows there is something special about her and trusts her instincts as she seems to know when trouble is coming their way.
On the day of their wedding the mechs from the dome attack. Everyone scatters from the celebration but the mechs follow only Dax and Merritt. It is as if they are being tracked as they run through the ruins of the former city. Finally they are cornered and Dax is severely injured when he tries to fight them. Merritt is taken and Dax is given over to the mechs to replace the soldier that he killed.
Swain takes Merritt as his PRISM. He alters her memory so that she thinks she is his daughter and the symlife that she lives as she is connected to the master computer is very real. Except for the dreams she has. The dreams of her past life with Dax.
Dax is enhanced with the admanium and incorporated into the mechs. They are all interconnected to each other and to the master computer. It is there that he sees flashes of his past life. His sees images from his life with Merritt and he realizes what has happened to him. His consciousness returns and he rebels and escapes with one thought.
He finds help in a Doctor who thinks Swain and the council are committing crimes against humanity. At one time he had been involved with genetic research using admanium. He realized what he was doing was wrong and went into hiding where he helps those who try to escape their fate. Meanwhile the council is after Dax because if it is known that a mech has escaped and the life chosen for him it will bring chaos down upon their society.
Dax finally finds Merritt and takes her away. But Merritt does not know if Dax is real or just a product of her dreams. She does not know which life is truly hers. The one Swain created for her or the one she lived in the Real. Only Dax’s love can bring her back to discover her true self. Then she can help him defeat Swain and the council and show the inhabitants of the Dome that really living life makes it all worth while.
Cindy Holby, award-winning author of historical and scifi romance, blends both genres together with Prism, a historical romance featuring a cowboy, a psychic heroine and a diabolical plot to take over the world using imaginative technology in Victorian England. What’s a proper British lady to do when a mad scientist is after her brain and an American cowboy is after her heart?
London, England 1887
David Alexander Conrad, AKA Dax, is a cowboy. But he’s not just any ordinary cowboy—he’s one of the famed performers with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show who, in the summer of 1887, travels to England in order to give those stuffy Victorians a jolt of good old American showmanship. He is a renowned sharp shooter and trick rider with skills honed when he worked as a scout for the US Cavalry in the American Southwest during the Apache Wars with Geronimo. At twenty-seven, he’s the youngest star of the show and something of a celebrity in a London unaccustomed to his type. It is while Dax is on the party circuit that he meets a woman unlike any he has ever known.
Merritt Elizabeth Chadwyke is the daughter of Member of Parliament, Lord Pemberton She lives in a society bubble because she is subject to spells and needs the constant monitoring of a nurse. During her “spells” Merritt has been known to make outlandish comments about things of which she should have no knowledge. There is also evidence that during these spells, objects appear to move on their own. Merritt’s parents are very protective of her since they have already lost a son to a tragic accident. What her parents do not know is that at ten years of age, Merritt had a vision of her brother’s death but was afraid to say anything because of her parents reactions to her visions. She did try to warn her brother, who was fourteen when he died, but he ignored her. He realized he should have paid attention to her and said so as he died in his father’s arms. At their wits’ end over her strange illness, her parents send her to the Paranormal Research Institute run by Baron Edmond Von Swaim, who has become a society darling himself by using his powers of hypnotism to charm the upper crust. As Von Swaim performs test upon test on Merritt, he comes to the conclusion that she is something so unique and rare, he wasn’t even certain it existed. Merritt is a Prism. And more importantly, she is exactly what he needs to complete his plot to overthrow the British Monarchy and take what he feels is his claim to the throne.
Von Swaim does everything to encourage Merritt’s family to turn her over to his care to cure her “spells.” His research into the study of the human mind has led him to believe that it is the greatest power upon earth. Through the use of his brilliant inventions and the enhancement of crystal prisms he plans to harness Merritt’s mind. Merritt, true to the nature of her spells, has a bad feeling about Von Swaim and refuses to go with him, despite her parents’ belief that it is the perfect solution to her strange illness. It is also during this time that Dax and Merritt have met each other and find that they are unable to stop thinking about each other. He finds it’s a bit more difficult to track a young woman through Victorian London than it is to fight Indians in the American west. Still he manages to find her, at parties, at the park, even in an exclusive tea shop. The feelings they share grow stronger with each passing moment and they go to great lengths to spend time together when they realize there is something special between them. As they pursue their romance Dax finds Merritt’s strange sense of things more of a gift than an illness and Merritt knows that Dax truly loves her for who she is, not what society or her parents expect her to be.
Frustrated with the constraints her family and society have put upon her, and unable to escape from Von Swaim’s constant presence, Merritt sneaks out to see a final performance of the Wild West show. Dax is happy to see her in the crowd and pulls her out to do some trick shooting. Meanwhile, Von Swaim, who has had Merritt watched ever since he’s treated her, is told of her escape from her home. Von Swaim sees this as the perfect opportunity to take her and sends his men, who wear armor and carry weapons that shoot lasers and electrical currents after her. Dax and Merritt manage to escape and spend a romantic night together in hiding. The following morning Von Swaim’s army finds their hiding place and chase Dax and Merritt through the streets of London. Dax is well armed but his trick shooting has no effect upon the special armor Von Swaim’s soldiers wear. Dax and Merritt are finally captured when Von Swaim uses a zeppelin to run them down in Hyde Park. He takes both of them prisoner, Merritt to be his weapon, and Dax, who is wounded in the leg to be brain washed and become a soldier in his army. They are taken by zeppelin to Von Swaim’s hidden castle in the Swiss Alps.
Dax finds there is no torture or brainwashing powerful enough to erase Merritt and his feelings for her from his memory. He manages to befriend a doctor in Von Swaim’s employ who has repaired Dax’s wound using Von Swaim’s invention of brass fittings and joints. After some time in which his injury heals and with the doctor’s help Dax manages to escape, only to find himself alone in a country where he knows no one and does not speak the language. To makes matters worse, Merritt is now under Von Swaim’s control and he has taken her to away for “treatment” with her parents’ permission. Fortunately for Dax, the Wild West Show is now touring Europe and he is able to find his friends who welcome him back with open arms. Dax is desperate to find Merritt but has no idea where to look.
Merritt, who is under Von Swaim’s control, cannot forget Dax either. Even though her memories of him are supposedly erased by Von Swaim’s hypnotism, her Prism abilities guide her back to Dax at one of the performances of the Wild West Show. Dax knows that he may never have this chance with Merritt again. With the help of his friends from the Wild West Show he is ready to use Von Swaim’s weapons against him. Dax and Von Swaim enter into a battle for her mind, but Von Swaim does not realize that Dax is also fighting for Merritt’s heart and soul. Dax will stop at nothing to free her from Von Swaim so that Merritt may make her own choices for her own life. Dax can only hope that once he frees her from Von Swaim that Merritt will choose him because he loves her just the way she is. Neither technology nor mind control, no matter how powerful, are any match for the strength of their love.
The second proposal is getting a lot more looks and I’m hoping it will sell soon. Meanwhile publishers are still trying to figure out exactly what steampunk is.