YOU GUYS IT’S NOVEMBER SEVENTH. This means that Nanoshock, the second book in the mind-blowing, patriarchy-smashing SINless series, is now officially all out in the world, kicking ass and probably not bothering to take names. To celebrate its (US) release day, I am bringing to the Sci-Fi Month table an interview with K.C. Alexander! Venture below for some in-depth chat about SINless, transhumanism, feminist rage and more!
(Oh, and swearing.)
K.C. Alexander is the author of Necrotech – a transhumanist sci-fi called “a speed freak rush” by NYT bestseller Richard Kadrey and “a violent thrillride” by award-nominated Stephen Blackmoore. She co-wrote Mass Effect: Andromeda: Nexus Uprising with NYT bestseller Jason M. Hough, Bioware’s first novelization for Mass Effect: Andromeda. Other credits consist of short stories to Fireside magazine and a contribution to Geeky Giving. Specialties include voice-driven prose, imperfect characters, and reckless profanity. Also, creative ways to murder the deserving – in fiction. Probably. She champions mental health awareness and prefers animals to people. And she writes anything she wants to.
OK, first things first! Welcome to my little corner of Sci-Fi Month, and congrats on your latest book release! For those who may not know of them, tell us a bit about the SINless books.
Hey, thanks so much! Always happy to land over the effing rainbow; it’s where all the good shit is. So, where to start? The SINless series, featuring our favorite fucked up balls out protagonist Riko, is a forward-facing love letter to cyberpunk nostalgia. Big megacorporations, gritty mercenaries; a hardcore transhumanist street-level kind of mess. It’s aggressive, and it’s not ashamed of itself.
If you like pansexual bitches who prefer kicking teeth in than asking questions, flawed protagonists making all the wrong decisions to try and make things right, or cyberpunk taken out of the past and placed firmly in the future as we’re coming to know it, then you want these books.
Plus, there is swearing. So very much swearing.
Now let’s go a bit deeper, and talk more about Riko. In particular, I’m wondering about the challenges she presents as such a strong character. She’s kind of all-or-nothing, and she isn’t exactly apologetic about it, which I’ve noted in the past as something that seems very deliberate. What is it about her that makes you want to tell her story, the way it’s been told so far?
Riko came screaming to the forefront of my brain around the same time I decided to flip a giant middle finger to all those people (you know, those people) who kept telling me and femmes like me that we don’t and shouldn’t exist. That real women don’t admire a man’s strength because he could hurt them but won’t; that real women are smarter and more compassionate; that real women don’t enjoy anal sex or sex with strangers or prefer to be single and swinging across gender lines unless they’re whores, subjugated to the patriarchy; not real feminists.
You get the idea.
Things like this, it pisses me off. Especially because I am and I know other femmes who take those self-righteous commandments and shove ‘em where ladies are rumored to shine.
So one day, after reading something written by a woman that once more erased me and mine, I started thinking: what would happen if there was a protagonist, a woman, who broke all these stereotypes? Like I would, were it not against the law to kick smeghead teeth in on the regular.
I am sick and tired of being told, encouraged, and made to apologize for my behaviors. And if I could, I’d make like Riko and bloody every bastard who tried to make me.
As a strong character, she comes across very easily to me as something I can understand. Writing her is both cathartic and a joy; even when she makes stupid decisions based on her flaws and her PTSD. She’s narcissistic and it bites her in the ass often, but she’s still worth relating to. How many of us feel so overwhelmed and out of control that all we want to do is ream some new assholes and possibly faces, too?
But I do have issues, and they are namely this: my whole life, much like most women-presenting folks, I have been told to dumb it down. Don’t be so hard, don’t be so aggressive, don’t be loud, don’t be crude, don’t be sexually unapologetic, don’t be this, don’t do this. Be acceptable, water it down, ease in.
I often have to go back in my drafts and un-pull those punches I pulled subconsciously. Make the bone crack and the blood flow. In that, in the effort it takes, there’s freedom.
Now, with Nanoshock out in the world, let’s talk about sequels. Without getting spoilery, what’s next for Riko?
Ahahahahaha! Oh, my dudes and doves and delicious delights. There is so much in store for Riko: face-to-face meetings with ghosts, adventures with sociopathic teenagers, taking on the role of women in video games (I am not joking and I cannot wait for that slaughterfest), flaws and trauma and new revelations…
You want these books to continue. Trust me.
(My eyes are so wide right now)
If we can broaden the scope on your SF stories a little now, I’ve been curious for a while about the transhumanist theme there. What does it mean to you, and how did that interest take hold?
Transhumanism is something that simply exists. It’s all around us: from the cell phones that remember everything for us (saving us from flawed or patchy memories), cars that drive for us (ostensibly safer than people do), video games that thank teammates and helpfully warn of threats automatically (bypassing the protohumans on chat that can’t be assed)…
It’s only getting better and worse.
The thing about transhumanism is that at it’s core, it’s about humans developing and relying on technology to overcome our limits. To be bigger, better, faster, stronger, flawless, smarter…
But when you take off the caps of human ability, when technology takes over the role of common sense, social interaction, and effort, what stops us from yet another attempt at eugenics in the name of a better society? What stops us from moving from prosthetics to help a veteran to walk again to cosmetic limbs and enhancements to make people look better, feel better, shape themselves to the demands of the society that wants them to be something else?
How will we treat each other when we no longer need to rely on each other to help us achieve our goals? When those in charge, the Haves, know everything about us through our phones, our tech, our desire for security over privacy?
I wonder, day by day, how much of our souls are we willing to sign over in the name of progress?
I think about these things often. And I am 100% sure that we’re headed that way. It scares the living crap out of me, too.
…Well. When you put it all that way…
Let’s move on from SINless here, because I also wanted to chat a bit about other projects you’re working on. For instance, you recently co-wrote a Mass Effect novel. For the benefit of non-gamers (*cough* like me *cough*), what’s the story there? Pun intended.
What?? Get thee to Mass Effect!
That said, Nexus Uprising is a prequel to the launch of Mass Effect: Andromeda, Bioware’s fourth installment of the Mass Effect series. At the core of it, it’s about pioneers who set off for a galaxy 600 years away with fairy dust and hope in their eyes… only to arrive to barren worlds and massive structural damage to their primary city-ship.
Old enmity, prejudice and power-struggles come to the fore even as the colonists attempt to band together and survive. Choices are made, for better or worse, and the events roll out to the point where the game starts: the Nexus, Citadel of Andromeda, limping along, in desperate need of help, unification, and reconcile.
Finally, because it’s my favourite question and I would kick myself if I didn’t ask it, what’s been on your SF reading list lately, and what might you recommend?
Do you know how much I have wanted to read more than I have? Sadly, I am not so prolific when on deadline, and I have been on various deadlines for six months. This makes short stories my favorite go-to.
I have a waiting stack of books for when I’m all done for the year, and I can’t wait to dive in. What about you?
I am quite sure I don’t have the faintest clue what that’s like. Nope, no idea. Heh. OK, finally finally, thank you so much for taking the time to chat!
And thank you! I hope you enjoy Nanoshock in all its bloody glory, and I always enjoy reading articles from here. Be good, everyone! And if you can’t be good, be fucking awesome. I believe in you!
Street thug Riko has some serious issues- memories wiped, reputation tanked, girlfriend turned into a tech-fueled zombie. And the only people who can help are the mercenaries who think she screwed them over. In an apathetic society devoid of ethics or regulation, where fusing tech and flesh can mean a killing edge or a killer conversion, a massive conspiracy is unfolding that will alter the course of the human condition forever.
With corporate meatheads on her ass and a necro-tech blight between her and salvation, Riko is going to have to fight meaner, work smarter, and push harder than she’s ever had to. And that’s just to make it through the day.
“Necrotech bleeds with raw & unapologetic badassery. Riko is the cyberpunk heroine I’ve been waiting for, struggling with the truth that the tech we embrace to solve our problems just creates new ones, and no one has a chipset to fix humanity’s bugs. K.C. Alexander dials up the attitude, anguish, and adrenaline in this explosive debut, and I’m looking forward to Riko’s next run.” – Kevin Hearne, NYT Bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles
Being a mercenary isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Especially when Riko’s hard-won reputation has taken a hard dive into fucked. Now she’s fair game for every Tom, Dick and Blow looking to score some cred.
In this city, credibility means everything – there’s no room for excuses. She still doesn’t know what she did to screw up so badly, and chasing every gone-cold lead is only making it worse. Without help and losing ground fast, Riko has a choice: break every rule of the street on her search for answers… or die trying.
“Nanoshock crushes everything in its path. Brutal, unapologetic, sexy cyberpunk, it is a steel-fisted punch in the mouth.”– Scott Sigler, #1 NYT bestselling author of the Generations trilogy