Saturday, March 2, 2013

Kerry Nietz's Novel MASK

Back Cover Blurb
I am the mask. The mask is me.

America has fallen. Remnants of states cling together. The Pacific Northwest is now PacNorth.

Democracy has gone off the rails. Citizens still vote, but only to vote away anything—or anyone—they don’t like. Long-term wisdom loses to short-term pleasure.

And the Collectors come in the night.

Radial is a Collector. The instrument of the will of the people. You get voted away…Radial makes you disappear. The system works, and he is its servant. The rule of the people is the highest form of human government. He is a believer.

Until he is asked to collect someone who should never, ever be voted away.

Book Excerpt: 

I am the mask. The mask is me.
   No collector is known by name. Nor by face. There is just the mask. A dark shroud over my features. Eyeless, mouthless. Solid. I get the call, I dress, and I collect.
  In reality, I’m Radial Crane. Thirty-years-old, single, childless, with a small place in the city. But here, now, I’m what I’m supposed to be. An incon collector.
  And I’m waiting.
  I’m hunkered in an alley just off Broad Street. One hand on the cold pavement, another against the building to my left, which is slick with moisture. It is nearly midnight. The four-story building across Broad contains my target. It is an older stone structure, in marginal disrepair. A perfect place for hiding out.
  Around the periphery of my vision the mask paints data—distance ranges, ambient light and temperature readings, air quality…a bevy of relevant information.
  “Hall cameras confirm the incon is present, Collector. Second floor.” Quantum’s voice is female, and sounds warm and assuring. That’s ironic, really, since she’s a synthetic brain hidden somewhere in the city. The source of all my collections. “Make good your charge.”
   I stand, adjust my belt, and pull on my gloves. I free two monitors from their moorings at my sides. The monitors are disk-shaped, flat black in color, incredibly light. I touch their activation spots and release them. They drop a few centimeters, and then—with a slight hiss—their engines engage. They right themselves and rise to hover near my shoulders. I only nod. Inside my mask, I see the images from their embedded cameras. I now have more vision than God intended. Not quite the visual capabilities of a housefly, but almost.
  With a whispered command, I send the monitors forward. They whisk across Broad Street and wait. I check that the way is clear and cross over behind them. Steps lead up to the front door, so I ascend. The door is heavy, triple locked. To the right is a vidscreen showing the building’s occupants. That is useless to me. The incon is staying with his girlfriend. And even her name is false.
  “Security, Quantum,” I whisper. Seconds later, I hear the door click open. Every building has a centralized “free” code now. Originally that was for emergency services. Still is, by law.
   My work supersedes all that.
   I grab the door handle and cautiously crack it open. The monitors slide through the opening. I engage the eye sensor of my mask. Use it to guide the monitors forward. Mostly what I’m looking for is interlopers. I don’t need any complications. Usually this particular flavor of incon doesn’t work alone.
  The building’s interior is a mess. Scrawls of graffiti on the walls, most of it unreadable or misspelled. The floor is littered with broken and missing grey tile.
   The monitors search until they reach the first flight of stairs. They are wooden and old. There are large cracks in the stairs themselves. Places where one might fall through. My suit adds a fair amount to my weight.
   I instruct the monitors to separate. One immediately takes a higher orbit, splitting the image. They make their way to the top, scanning opposite directions. I see no one, not even a hall squatter. All is quiet.
  I enter the building myself. I return the door to its closed position and walk quietly forward. The building is said to be largely unoccupied—only twenty amidst a city of millions. All incons or incons in the making. Regardless, I don’t want to wake anyone. Complications.
  I tell the monitors to make a full sweep of the second story hall, checking every door, searching for any hiding place. They find nothing.
  I slowly ascend the stairs, mindful of the weak spots I saw. There is no hurry. I have all night.
  “What room?” I whisper.
  “204,” Quantum says.
   At the top of the stairs and on my right is a door marked 201. There is an unmarked door that I assume is 202 on my left. I slide to that wall and work my way down it. I pass the anonymous door and continue.
  I pause at the edge of the door marked 204. It is solid hardwood. Too solid for the age of the building. I check the square lock below the handle. It is an electrified thumb pad. Another upgrade. Top of the line, in fact.
  Frowning, I reach for the oval decoder at my hip. I raise it and sweep it over the lock. It flashes red. I scowl and sweep it again, slower this time. I get green and hear the lock click free.
  There is an explosion, and a hole appears in the center of the door, literally centimeters from my chest.
  Swearing, I spin left, and take a crouched position. So much for not waking the neighbors…

Author Bio:

Kerry Nietz is a refugee of the software industry. He spent more than a decade of his life flipping bits—first as one of the principal developers of the database product FoxPro for the now mythical Fox Software, and then as one of Bill Gates’s minions at Microsoft. He is a husband, a father, a technophile, and a movie buff. Mask is his fourth novel.

You can find Kerry on the web on his website , facebook, or his publisher's site.

Purchase the Book:
Barnes and Noble:
Marcher Lord Press:

Kery Nietz  is giving away a copy of his novel, MASK. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Charity U said...

I'd like to read this book, please enter me! Thanks. :)

Kerry Nietz said...

Thanks for stopping by, Charity! You're entered!

Lois Hudson said...

Would love to win this book by a favorite author! (Should I confess that I recently put it on my NOOK?) But I'd love to have a shelf copy!

Rachel said...

This book sounds so great and I have really gotten into dystopias. This is one I have to read. Thanks for the giveaway.

kerry nietz said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lois & Rachel. You're on the list!

bluenichols said...

Love your writing. Awesome book would love to win a copy.

Library Lady said...

The book, "Mask" is definitely one that our library users would enjoy.
I would love to win this book to add to our church library collection.
Thanks for the giveaway.
Janet E.

Kerry Nietz said...

Thanks, blue and Janet, for your support. Appreciate it! You are entered!

Teela said...

Kerry, this sounds like something my grandson would enjoy after I would read it (hoping I win!!) Thanks for making the change and becoming the person it semms you were meant to be!

Kerry Nietz said...

Thanks, Teela.

Despite the emotional rollercoaster it sometimes can be, I love, love, love to write.

And I'm so very grateful that there is an outlet for what I write, and that others find it meaningful and entertaining.

Thanks for commenting. You're entered!

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