Hello friends and welcome to Color The Shelves!
I’m bringing you an interview today with Wayne Santos, author of the upcoming THE CHIMERA CODE, which is a science-fantasy book set in a non-binary age (the 22nd) where magic and science mix (or don’t, depending on how you look at it) and magic is for hire. We follow and eclectic crew of mercenaries as they get up to shenanigans and many things go wrong and…explode. Wayne Santos makes so many interesting points about the book that made it all the more intriguing and fascinating, and I’m happy to be sharing them and the book with you today!
Hello Wayne, I’m so happy to have you on Color the Shelves today! To kick off this interview, please tell us more about THE CHIMERA CODE. What is it about?
It’s about Cloke, who is a fireball-for-hire in the 22nd century, taking on a job from the weirdest client she’s ever had. Okay, now that I’ve thoroughly confused everyone, some background. This takes place in the 2130s, decades after magic started working again in the late 21st century. It’s a post-WWIII cyberpunk world with megacorporations, hackers, and cyborg mercenaries, but it also has people that can shoot lightning out of their hands, or change your appearance by muttering a few incantations.
Cloke is a mixed half-Irish, half-Filipino combat mage. She’s actually one of the premier people in the world in this position, and she runs her own “Chimera Unit,” which is the slang term the military/merc world uses for “combined arms” units that mix hacking, combat and magic. She gets hired for a very unusual job and ends up blowing up stuff in Singapore, Dubai, and even near-earth orbit.
Magic for hire sounds like such a fascinating concept, what started the story? Was it characters? Plot? Or something else entirely?
This story actually started as my answer to the question, “What the hell happened to Cloke when she grew up?”
Cloke first started life as a short story. I first came up with the concept of a cyberpunk/magic hybrid world waaay back in the 1990s and even wrote a short story about it. In that story, Cloke was just a teenager and was trying to survive her first magic duel. I always wondered how she turned out after that, and The Chimera Code was my way of catching up with that character and seeing how the defiant street punk that could throw magic missiles had turned out.
The other thing that gave this story—or, more accurately, the world—its start was the tabletop roleplaying game, Shadowrun. That was a high tech world where dragons, elves, dwarves, and magic had an uneasy coexistence with a cyberpunk setting. I really enjoyed that game, but I always wondered to myself what that world would have been like if only magic had manifested and not all the magical creatures. So that’s the world I created and then stuck Young Cloke into, and that eventually turned into the book that’s coming out now.
What was your favorite part of writing the book?
The really geeky stuff about watching how magic and technology can break each other. I’ve always been interested in seeing the way one set of “rules” can establish limitations, and how introducing a new set of rules can break those limitations.
For me, seeing the ways that magic could defeat technological barriers was a lot of the fun. But I also liked how having a computer handy could open up some very unorthodox ways to augment or circumvent magic. I guess I’m that kid that just liked taking action figures from two different intellectual properties and mashing them up in ways that make the purists scream. You’re damn right Luke Skywalker is going to break out the lightsaber against a Nazgul if I have my way…
Your three main characters are such an eclectic bunch, what are some facts about them that didn’t manage to make an appearance in the book?
There are plenty of fun facts that are sitting around about Cloke and the rest of the Chimera Unit. It’s really just a question of which useless trivia to throw into the spotlight to shame or embarrass them. For example, while it doesn’t get much “airtime” in the novel, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone to hear that Cloke likes videogames, although in the 22nd century, with virtual reality advanced to the point of neural impulse simulation and stimulation, the kind of games Cloke likes to play are not the sort we’d be used to today. However, just to keep things novel, she does like roleplaying games but does not pick a magic-user character.
Zee did not really have a lot of time to develop hobbies or interests outside of trying to manage a quasi-legal existence that was off the books. It’s safe to say, however, that Zee is an Internet-Introvert, and enjoys exploring the neuro-simulated virtual worlds, but still prefers to take more of an observer role rather than actively participating.
Marcus, the affable cyborg combat cyborg who’s just a big ol’ teddy bear that shoots about a million holes in you if the price is right, has tons of things never mentioned. He can come up with the perfect strategy to ambush a heavy armor convoy, but still loses arguments with his partner about the amount of money to stick under their daughter’s pillow as a tooth fairy gift.
And to wrap-up it all up, what is something you’d like your readers to take away from the story, or something you’d like to tell them?
In a lot of ways, The Chimera Code both demonstrates—and lectures—on the idea of “adapt or die,” which is a concept that the whole world is wrestling with right this very moment. It’s taken to a more extreme end in Cloke’s world because she lives in an age where magic sits alongside neural simulation and military spec cyborgs. Her world has already been through WWIII, except it was a massive revolution in multiple countries, pitting people against their own governments, rather than sovereign national armies against other armies.
But it shows what happens when people stick to their ways and are unwilling to change when the times change. In Cloke’s world, the Middle East fell into a bottomless pit in the market when magic found ways to generate energy that completely negated the use of oil. The divisions in US politics got so bad the nation broke up into different countries. Nations unwilling to embrace magic were outcompeted in the global economy by South American countries that were bolder about it.
The timing is eerie because I never expected the themes in my book to coincide so strongly with the circumstances we find ourselves in. But all of us find ourselves in a situation where we’re now seeing seismic shifts in how we work, live, and even interact with each other. So now we also have to ask ourselves how much we’re willing to change to adapt and prosper, or stick to our old ways, and willingly fall behind.
About the author
Over the years, Wayne Santos has written copy for advertising agencies, scripts for television, and articles for magazines. He’s lived in Canada, Thailand and Singapore, traveling to many countries around South East Asia. His first love has always been science fiction and fantasy, and while he regularly engaged with it in novels, comics, anime and video games, it wasn’t until 1996, with his first short story in the Canadian speculative fiction magazine On Spec that he aimed towards becoming a novelist.
He now lives in Canada, in Hamilton, ON with his wife. When he’s not writing, he is likely to be found reading, playing video games, watching anime, or trying to calm his cat down. He is currently represented by Jennie Goloboy at Donald Maass Literary.
About the book
Publication date : July 21st, 2020
Publisher : Solaris | Rebellion Publishing
Genre : Adult | Science-Fantasy
Page Count: 500
Synopsis : Neuromancer for a non-binary age: an action-packed techno-thriller with a side of magical realism.
Everything’s for hire – even magic.
If you need something done, they’re the best: a tough, resourceful mage, a lab-created genderless hacker and a cyborg with a big gun.
But when they’re hired by a virtual construct to destroy the other copies of himself, and the down payment is a new magical skill, Cloke knows this job is going to be a league harder than anything they’ve ever done.
That’s it until next time.
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.