This is my stop during the blog tour for Regina Shen by Lance Erlick. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. You can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
So far this series contains 2 books: Regina Shen: Resilience (Regina Shen #1) and Regina Shen: Vigilance (Regina Shen #2)
Regina Shen: Resilience (Regina Shen #1)
by Lance Erlick
Genre: Science Fiction
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Outcast Regina Shen is forced by the World Federation to live on the seaward side of barrier walls built to hold back rising seas from abrupt climate change. A hurricane threatens to destroy what’s left of her world, tearing Regina from her family.
Global fertility has collapsed. Chief Inspector Joanne Demarco of the notorious Department of Antiquities believes Regina holds the key to avoid extinction. Regina fights to stay alive and avoid capture while hunting for her family.
You can find Regina Shen: Resilience on Goodreads
You can buy Regina Shen: Resilience here:
Regina Shen: Vigilance (Regina Shen #2)
By Lance Erlick
Genre: Science Fiction
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Regina Shen is pursued by the notorious Department of Antiquities for her unique DNA. She jumps the Barrier Wall into the Federation to find her kidnapped sister. Stuck on a heavily-guarded closed university campus, she must use her wits to escape and rescue her sister without letting either of two rival Antiquities inspectors capture her.
You can find Regina Shen: Vigilance on Goodreads
You can buy Regina Shen: Vigilance on Amazon.
Blurb of the first two books/ series:
World: This takes place 400 years in the future after abrupt climate change has melted ice caps and flooded the coasts. Civilization collapsed and was replaced by a World Federation that suppresses knowledge from the past. Three-hundred-plus-year-old Grand Old Dames rule using a caste system.
Regina Shen is an outcast condemned by the World Federation to live on the seaward side of Barrier Walls built to hold back rising seas. She is Chinese-Hispanic, tough, lives by her wits, and thrives on salvage from sunken cities, including illegal print books from before the Great Collapse. She also has unique DNA the Federation believes can reverse a worldwide fertility collapse. Regina doesn’t trust the Federation.
Chief Inspector Joanne Demarco of the notorious Department of Antiquities polices Barrier Walls and destroys evidence from the past, including print books. Ambitious, she sees Regina as the key to securing her future.
Inspector Vikki Volpe is a ruthless hard-core Antiquities agent who believes Demarco has gone soft and wants the chief inspector’s job.
Book 1 (Regina Shen: Resilience): A hurricane threatens to destroy what’s left of Regina’s world. Separated from her sister, her mom, and her home, with Demarco in pursuit, Regina fights to stay alive and avoid capture while hunting for family.
Book 2 (Regina Shen: Vigilance): Pursued by the Department of Antiquities, Regina jumps the Barrier Wall into the Federation to find her kidnapped sister, and winds up on a closed-university campus with heavy surveillance. Regina must use her wits to escape and rescue her sister without letting either of two rival inspectors capture her.
Richmond Swamps, June ACM 296
A gray Department of Antiquities patrol boat motored across our path. I paddled into a cattail-covered cove, kept a wary eye for alligators, and waited for the gray-uniformed agents to leave. In the morning heat, sweat trickled down my neck and soaked my green canvas top, causing me to itch. I ignored the irritation and swarms of black flies.
“Regina, we should go home,” Colleen whispered from the front of my log-boat.
“We’ll be fine, sis,” I said to keep her calm. “School is safe.” I hoped.
While there was ebb and flow to life in the swamps, three patrol sightings so far this week were unusual, and it was only Thursday. Something was up.
The Antiquities boat finally headed up the channel. We crossed and tied the mooring rope to reeds below our school. I made sure the log-boat was secure and hidden from view, in case the patrol returned. Then I led Colleen up the rocky incline beside stilts that kept the wood-frame buildings above water.
Colleen and I hurried to our respective classes. There was no one in the clearing between the buildings, on the stairs, or at the tiny balconies by classroom entrances. I ran up the steps, pushed open the rickety wood door, and dropped my wet, muddy boots beside others on a stone slab inside.
School was the best part of my day. I didn’t have to watch my twelve-year-old sister, since she was secure in her own classroom. Mo-Mere, our nickname for our teacher, Marisa Seville, brought the dozen girls in her class warm soup of beans, turtle, and spuds.
My favorite part: she let me touch real books—brittle paper ones, yellowed, edges worn, with stories that tickled my mind, stories the World Federation had purged from the Mesh-cloud. Mo-Mere’s books made the six-days-a-week slog through miles of swamp in a hollowed-out log worthwhile.
“Regina,” Mo-Mere placed her weathered face next to mine and whispered in a warm voice with a tough edge. “You might be my best student, but that doesn’t excuse tardiness.” She pinched my cheeks to let me know she meant both comments.
She was too kind. Though I was fifteen, doing seventeen-year-old work, I took too much of Mo-Mere’s time. She was like a second mom to me. In fact, the other girls gossiped that she was my donor mother, providing half her DNA to Mom to conceive me in the local fertility clinic. Mom refused to talk to me of such matters.
Mo-Mere nudged me toward the four rows of four small tables facing the front of the room. “Take your seat. I was telling the class I received a report of a Category-5 hurricane bearing down on us tomorrow night.”
I shrugged. This would be the second big storm of the year.
A new student sat in the first row, in front of Mo-Mere’s rough-cut maple desk. I took the vacant seat next to her, where no one else wanted to sit, so I could learn without all the distractions of the older girls whispering. Mostly they gossiped about how I had a little girl’s body. My hips hadn’t filled out, and I refused to stuff my bra like two girls did.
We all wore the same faded green canvas trousers and pullovers. Raw canvas came in one color, dull green, and most of us Marginals had nothing to barter for expensive dyes. Mo-Mere said if I studied hard, she might get me into the university on the other side of the Great Barrier Wall, in the Federation proper. “You could become a Professional and have a real future.”
Yet life outside the Richmond Swamps seemed unimaginable. This was the only world I knew, unless you counted the literary world of banned books by ancients such as Charles Dickens, Isaac Asimov, and David Brin.
Compared to the river and swamp channels, the classroom felt small, boxy, and musty, though I didn’t mind if it meant I could read.
“Let’s pray to the Blessed Mary,” Mo-Mere said, as part of our Federation-required morning ritual.
Tapping my foot, I mumbled along with the other students, paying no attention to words as distant as the world beyond the Great Wall, a massive concrete structure that separated us from the Federation. They accepted only one religion, though it seemed to me they’d picked the wrong one: devotion to Mary Devereaux and the other Grand Old Dames.
Our teacher pointed a gnarled wooden stick at the board on the right side of the room. “Let’s recite our Twelve Commandments.”
I mouthed by rote, recalling phrases with what Mo-Mere called my photographic memory. “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not leave the Marginal swamps without Federation permission.” Blah, blah, blah.
“Everyone should live as a Marginal swamp rat for a year,” Mo-Mere said, “before complaining about their life.” She made this sound like a badge of honor, a way to build character and help us survive in our drenched world. She’d said this on my first week and repeated it whenever a new student arrived.
“Who can tell Beth how the Community Movement and Federation began?” Mo-Mere’s intense eyes looked from student to student. When no one volunteered, her sharp eyes drilled into me until I nodded.
She expected me to give the official answer for the new student, another chance to stand out so the older girls could ridicule me. It didn’t matter. They wouldn’t be friends with the “little girl” no matter what I did.
While I longed to be out, making preparations for the storm, my heart raced to recall official histories. I wanted Mo-Mere to like me so she’d let me read precious books she hid from other students. “You’re the luckiest of the lucky,” she’d told me. She only accepted students whose mothers could barter food, clothing, or other necessaries. Those whose moms couldn’t pay had to drop out.
“Three centuries ago,” I said, “our atmosphere warmed, glaciers melted, and oceans rose, destroying croplands. The Great Collapse threatened to destroy civilization. The Community Movement rose up to establish the World Federation. They restored peace in order to save us.” The last was a big lie. They restored peace so they could be in charge and remake the world in their image. To do so, they purged all knowledge and books from Before the Community Movement (BCM).
I didn’t add how GODs ran the Community Movement and its World Federation. Their notorious Department of Antiquities controlled all electronic information on the Mesh, eliminating anyone and any information that threatened their control. Even those were just words to me. I’d never seen the Federation, GODs, or the Community Movement, although Antiquities patrols made their presence known.
I stopped my foot from thumping on the creaky wood floor.
Girls behind me snickered. “Restoorr.” They were making fun of my Federation accent, which Mom and Mo-Mere insisted I learn. It made me sound like Beth and some of the other newcomers.
Mo-Mere’s face hardened. “That’s enough.” She looked around the classroom then at me. “Very good, Regina. With waters rising, the Federation built the Great Barrier Wall to our west to hold back the seas and protect as much cropland as they could.” She gave the same introduction to each new student. Listening to it again had me squirming in my seat.
“Why are we on the wet side of the Wall?” I blurted out, since Marginals had helped build the Wall centuries ago.
Mo-Mere scowled at such an obvious question. “Why don’t you answer for Beth’s benefit?”
I shifted my bony rump on the wood seat, hung my head for disappointing her, and gave the official answer. “Marginals were cast out of the good lands after they rebelled.” Except my ancestors had been in the Federation at that time.
“And?” Mo-Mere prompted.
“We must work hard to prove our worth to the Federation.” I looked up. “But every year, the waters swamp more of our lands. Soon, we won’t have anywhere to live.”
“That’s why you must work for a chance to go to their university.”
“Regina Shen! That’s enough. See me after class.”
While pretending to frown in shame, inside I smiled at the chance to spend more time with Mo-Mere. Looking around, I realized I’d dug a bigger grave for myself with the other girls. I wanted to learn, even if they didn’t.
Mo-Mere stood in front of her desk, towering over me. “This storm could be the worst in my lifetime.” She let that sink in.
Worst was relative. Each storm took homes and land, and made us scramble, but they were all bad. She seemed more worried this time.
“Since the storm isn’t expected until tomorrow night, school will be open in the morning, unless your moms want you home. Don’t take unnecessary risks. If you do come, bring examples of how you’ve prepared. In order to survive, we must share with other students and neighbors.”
She looked around the small room to be sure we were listening. “Find the highest shelter you can with protection against storm surges. Make sure you have emergency supplies, including medicines. Think about how the storm will affect your gardens and how you’ll hunt for food. Be careful what you scrounge to eat. Remember the pictures I showed you of poisonous seafood.”
* * *
Inspector Joanne Demarco watched the growing storm system onscreen from the helm of her Department of Antiquities patrol boat in the middle of the Richmond Swamps. Waves broke along the port side. The hurricane will make landfall tomorrow night, she thought. A big storm would send tens of thousands of Marginals scrambling for the Barrier Walls created to hold out them as well as the seas. They’ll offer themselves into servitude for a chance to live.
She remembered those days as a child. She swore never to let anything return her to the life of a swamp rat. Yet here she was, doing the Federation’s dirty work. A promotion might improve that.
An alarm pierced the calm, the sort that would send you jumping for lifeboats. Demarco cursed under her breath, forced a smile, and locked the cabin door. She took a deep breath and activated her Mesh-reader.
North American Governor Gina Wilmette’s ancient face filled the screen with a wide canvas of wrinkles and tufts of skin. Like all Grand Old Dames, the governor was more than 300 years old. Meds, treatments, and replacement parts had helped, though she still looked like the fossils Demarco seized while clamping down on local salvage efforts.
“How’s my favorite Antiquities agent?” the governor said in a politically cheery voice.
I’m probably the only Antiquities agent you know. “There’s a storm brewing,” Demarco said, sending an image of the massive swirl on her weather screen to the governor. It was the biggest she could recall, as if three storms had merged into one.
“There always is,” the governor said, the mask of surgeries and makeup dulling any facial expression. “The reason I called is … are you aware fertility clinics are failing everywhere?”
“I was not, Your Majesty.” Though Demarco had heard rumors.
“We’ll need more than flimsy Barrier Walls to protect us from this. The Antarctic governor pretends she has matters under control, but they’re failing. Failing! The Federation made a huge mistake putting all our eggs in her basket, but she convinced the premier that Antarctica was the safest place on the planet.”
While the governor let off steam, Demarco contrasted the calm of the swamp around her to what this new storm would do. At least the southern continent didn’t have Marginals to deal with. Their glass-domed cities were impenetrable, though maybe that was a lie perpetrated by Antarctica’s Department of Antiquities. As North America’s chief inspector, Demarco had manipulated enough reports on behalf of Governor Wilmette to know how.
She returned her thoughts to the governor’s comments. Though birth rates had dropped worldwide, Demarco never suspected a conspiracy, certainly not one involving the rivalry between Wilmette and the Antarctic governor. “Do we know the cause?”
“My medical experts tell me more defects enter the process with each generation. EggFusion Fertilization now fails to provide live births. If we can’t solve this, we’re a generation away from extinction.”
The inspector mulled over the news. She had no children by choice, mostly the job, but the possibility of never having kids raised the stakes. This was the first time the governor discussed this issue so candidly. Demarco wondered why Wilmette was telling her now. Then it came.
“I need you to track down rumors of Marginal DNA offering better potential. They certainly replicate like mosquitoes.”
The chief inspector rarely interested herself in affairs beyond North America, but this was big. It was time to toady up to her boss and set expectations. “I’ll take this on personally, Your Majesty, but so far we’ve found no evidence.”
“Look harder.” The skin on the governor’s face pulled in various directions, as if all the surgery in the world couldn’t fix her. “You know what it means if we find a solution, even if it does come from our Marginal swamp rats.”
“I understand the urgency, Your Majesty. I’m on it.” A win could put the governor of North America in line as successor to the current Federation Premier, another GOD whose health was … less than robust. Yet what did that mean for Demarco? Well, failure meant return to the shrinking swamps as an outcast, or worse.
Demarco cleared her throat. “I sent you an image of the storm.”
“I see it.”
“Our meteorological group reports the super-cell will hit the east coast tomorrow night. Rains will be heavy with damaging winds. We expect flooding on our side of the Wall.”
“Your recommendation?” the governor asked.
“Open the dams. Push river and lake water beyond the Barrier.”
“Will that stabilize our water levels?”
“It’ll help. It’ll also thin out the Marginal population.” Demarco lowered her voice. “Meaning fewer candidates for—”
“I know what it means. Have all your resources to put tracking devices on Marginals and draw blood samples. When the storm comes, have patrols and bounty hunters round up all the girls. We’ll sort them later, use what we can, and throw back the rest.”
Like throwing back undersized sea bass, Demarco thought. “We’ll tag as many as we can. Then I’ll oversee the roundup. What about the dams?”
“Open them. I don’t need mayors complaining we let them down. Then find me girls with productive DNA.”
THINGS YOU’D LIKE TO ASK REGINA SHEN
What was it like growing up in the Richmond Swamps?
If not for the illegal print books Mo-Mere lets me read, I would describe my life as school, salvage from the depths, and chores at home. But her books make me see my world in the context of how other people live. The Federation calls us Marginals and we live a marginal life in many ways. We live with constant dangers from storms, not enough food, contaminated water, and the Federation’s genetically-enhanced alligators. Yet we are free in ways that those living in the Federation are not. There is no one telling us what to do or how to live. Mom sacrifices so my sister and I can go to school six days a week. I don’t know how she spends her days when we’re away, except we have enough to eat and our very own island with an orange and apple tree. At times I feel like Tom Sawyer, except we have to be vigilant to dangers and work hard to find food and keep our home safe.
At the beginning of the first book, why were you afraid of Antiquities agents?
Both Mom and Mo-Mere, my teacher, tell me to avoid agents at all cost. Contrary to the implication that Antiquities preserves the past, it is their job to destroy any evidence from before the Federation. Even our calendar begins three hundred years ago with the Federation as year zero. We fear the agents because during storms, their agents kidnap girls from the swamps to work on Federation farms and in factories and mines as slaves.
How do you imagine life on the other side of the Great Barrier Wall?
We are told that life on the other side of the Wall is better than the swamps because they don’t have as much to worry about storms stealing their land. They have food, and they don’t have vicious gators. But I wonder since so much of what they tell us is lies, whether this also is a myth. They have a caste system. They take our girls as slaves. That doesn’t sound like a place where I would want to live.
Why is your relationship with your mother so strained?
Mom refuses to talk about her work or what she does when we’re away at school. Yet, she brings in enough barter to pay for our schooling. She is also only one of my parents, but she refuses to talk about my other parent. I suspect there is some dark secret. Six months ago, when I stood up to Mom and insisted she tell me, she clammed up. We haven’t spoken much since. There is a gaping hole inside me wanting to know about my past, and wanting my Mom back, but every day she grows more distant and fearful. I can’t imagine what she’s done.
How do you feel about school?
School is a waste for me. Don’t get me wrong. I love learning. But in class Mo-Mere is limited to a few official electronic texts she can teach from. With a “photographic memory” that’s more a curse than a blessing, I could memorize all the Federation-approved texts in a day. There aren’t many. Mo-Mere stretches the information out over eleven years, carefully adding her own experiences. What keeps me motivated is detention, which I routinely get. That allows me private time with Mo-Mere. During detention, she shares illegal print books she’s salvaged from private collections beneath the sea in the sunken civilization of Richmond. The Federation could execute her for having these books, or even for salvaging. But I would risk everything for the opportunity to visit Victor Hugo, Isaac Asimov, and other ancient treasures.
What do you do when you’re not in school?
Because of “detention” it seems I’m always in school. Mom has chores for my sister and me around the house. We have a water purification system that takes contaminated channel water and makes it drinkable and so we can take quick showers. It needs constant maintenance and pumping. We have a garden, a goat to milk, and two fruit trees to tend. We also have to set and check traps to keep scavengers from taking what little we have while we’re away. When I can, I sneak off to dive salvage at sunken homes of what had been Richmond. Most times I find sites that have already been picked clean, but sometimes I uncover a real find, like finding enough stainless cooking pans to barter for a goat so we would have milk.
Who is your best friend?
It’s been hard to keep friends. The girls in my class are two years older, since I’ve advanced to the highest level, grade eleven. They think I’m too smart for my own good and would rather hang around with the more mature girls. I’ve had salvage partners. We would watch each other’s backs while diving. But Antiquities agents seized them during prior storms. The ache of losing friends has been hard. Besides, I have to watch my younger sister, who is three years younger and five years behind in school. In some ways she has become my best friend, but I have to keep so many secrets, like the books I read. It makes it hard to keep friendships.
What do you want to do after you finish school?
Mo-Mere has visions of giving me an Aristotelian education as Alexander the Great had so I could make something useful of my life. She has this dream that I will somehow lead people to change the world so Marginals weren’t forced to live on the sinking seaward side of the Great Barrier Wall. As for me, I imagine having more time to salvage the depths, as much in the hope of finding more print books as barter to trade for food. However, each year there is less to find and Antiquities patrols become more of a nuisance.
About the Author:
Lance Erlick likes to explore the mysteries of intriguing worlds with interesting, often strong female guides facing and overcoming adversity as they try to change their world. He hopes readers will enjoy his writing as they discover different worlds, going places they may never have been.He writes science fiction thrillers, appealing to young adults and adult readers. He is the author of The Rebel Within, The Rebel Trap, and Rebels Divided, three books in the Rebel series. In those stories, he explores the consequences of following conscience for those coming of age. He authored the Regina Shen series—Regina Shen: Resilience and Regina Shen: Vigilance. This series takes place after abrupt climate change leads to the Great Collapse and a new society under the World Federation. A related short story is: Regina Shen: Into the Storm. Lance is also the author of unrelated short stories: Maiden Voyage and Watching You.
You can find and contact Lance here:
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Regina Shen. These are the prizes you can win:
- a 25$ amazon gift card
- signed copy of Regina Shen: Vigilance by Lance Erlick (US Only)
For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway