For over a thousand years, a powerful oligarchy known as the Worldwide Order of Lightnings has oppressed us. With the help of the prying eyes of the chronomancers, the Lightnings have torn us from our homes... have forced us to do their bidding... have stripped us of our rights, even our names.
I have spent my life in hiding. Please understand that an unrated telepath like me is a commodity, not a person. If it’s not the thought-police come to call on me, it’s the Lightnings, or worse, a suitor who won’t accept no as an answer.
Peace. Security. Love. They all elude me. When I manage to grasp a little of them in my shaking hands, they are all but snatched away by outside powers beyond my control. My heart groans with black tears from all this folly.
Madness to resist. Yet, eternal torment to fail.
Interview with the character:
Q: Hello, Kwan. I’d like to start with the basics. I’d ask you your full name, but apparently you’re not permitted to carry one.
Yes, serfs are only allowed to carry a given name. It’s the same way I need a passport to board a train. Our rulers don’t much like the thought of us emigrating, so they erect these little barriers to hedge us in. They call it keeping us safe.
Q: Tell us more about yourself, then. The basics, I mean.
I’m 159 cm tall. I think this translates to five-foot-three and a half. My family is Orionite... what you know as South-East Asian. My hair reaches the small of my back right now, but that’s only because I’ve been too lazy to get it trimmed.
Q: This world seems so different from ours.
It’s not, really. We have one sun, one moon, just like you. There are eight planets, and ours is the third from the sun. We’re just like you, I guess.
Q: Except a lot of you have powers.
I guess. But most telepaths are only receivers. And people I know really well can kind of lean on my powers to reach me. Like Dodger, my horse. He’s not actually telepathic. He just uses my head as a switch board.
Q: I hear you’re so good at telepathy, you can hear words spoken from the other side.
Ha, no. It’s not that clear. The afterlife is a quiet place, you know. Only one voice I’ve ever heard from there, and I don’t care to repeat the experience.
Q: So you guys believe in an afterlife, then.
We came from the stars. When you die, your soul is called back there. Unless you’ve collected too much bad karma, in which case the stars won’t remember your name. This makes me worry, since I made a deal with them that I think will come back to haunt me.
Q: A deal? With the stars?
No, with the gate keeper. In turn, they sent my friend visions. They said either I would save the man I would love or I would face an unfortunate future.
Q: You believe the visions?
They were very clear, I’m given to understand. It was myself, still carrying the halo that forever marks my ownership. But all the parks and tress and people were gone. All there was to see was unending plains of dust, where memories of love played.
There I knelt, frozen in time and waiting for the sun to die. So you see... if I fail, it carries a very great price.
Q: Sounds ominous. Why don’t we end with the book stats.
Sure. I, Kwan is a retrofuturistic story with roots in the dieselpunk sub-genre of steampunk. It runs at 155, 000 words, and is available in eBook format, paperback and hardcover. You can find it on Smashwords, Amazon and Kobo. It was nice meeting all of you.