Rising Storm: Ian Kane Guest Post
Funny how some things come about. My new near-future apocalyptic/survival horror series, Fading Empires, actually began its humble beginnings not in a novel format, but as a graphic novel. As a keen observer of history as well as anthropology, I’ve always been fascinated by tribes, migration patterns, and gangs. From the mighty Huns who swept across Europe, Asia, and beyond, to the ferocious Visigoths who pounded on the gates of the Holy Roman Empire, to gigantic street gangs here in Los Angeles, these large groups have had an overwhelming influence on the societies that they were/are in.
My initial comic book was called Street Warz, and it focused on a street gang in the near-future which vied for power with other gangs. Taking a cue from the 1970s cult classic film The Warriors, each gang had its own style of dress and was usually known for something that made them stand out. The gang was called the Black Stone Villains and the main characters consisted of a nihilistic psychopath, a violent pimp, and an ex-Special Forces deserter. Yes, I was going for maximum grit. The Black Stone Villains fought against not only other gangs, but also a futuristic police state which oversaw things the best they could with an iron fist.
One night while brainstorming with a relative, I realized that I had a lot more to say than just covering hyper-violent gang wars. I started to back up and rise above these smaller conflicts, looking at them within the context of a larger picture. Why were the cops so brutal? Where were all of the power players in the rest of society? Was there a rest of society, and if so, what was it like?
I needn’t look too far for inspiration and ideas; I merely looked around at the world that exists today; filled with egregious corruption, a disappearing middle class, encroaching police state, environmental degradation, suppression of common human rights and dignities, and so on. Only, I imagined all of these factors on steroids, as in how they further develop down the road in the near-future; say 35 years or so from now. At the rate we’re going now what I projected is most prescient. Today we live in a world where even though 97% percent of the scientific community across the board agrees that climate change is happening all around us, people have buried their heads in the sand believing that if they ignore the facts, all the bad stuff just doesn’t exist. And that’s not even touching on the wholesale environmental neglect and downright conscious pollution that humans seem privileged to inflict upon our Earth.
Government and corporate corruption are at astronomical levels; every time that you turn around there are several new scandals breaking out, it’s as if it’s the end of the world and true human greed is revealing itself as company CEOs, government officials, and many of their lackies and vassals are going for broke and reverting into their true feral and devious natures, like unquenchable bottomless pits of shameless gluttony. Corporations are now big information power brokers with you and I caught in the undertow of shady agreements that have these massive conglomerations farming our personal data to the governmental intelligence gathering apparatus. Today, our individual privacy is just a little less than it was yesterday and tomorrow it will be more eroded, along with our basic human rights.
But that’s okay because most of the masses are easily distracted by fast shiny objects, such as fluff celebrity news, a multitude of contrived scandals, and numerous false-flag operations. And concurrent with this is one of the largest contributors to the sheeple mindset; shopping. As the highly compromised corporate media loves to ram down our collective throat continuously, we are mere consumers. As the unchecked rise of the corporate state started to form gigantic conglomerations, especially in the 1990s, people morphed from being citizens to be economic units; or consumers, fit to run off like heat seeking missiles towards stores while trampling fellow sheeple to death in order to be the first ones to buy shiny new things. And as much as the slimy advertising industry would have you believe, corporations aren’t patriotic; they undersell American companies and ship our jobs overseas.
As a result of all of these factors, many people feel as though they are powerless to make any sort of change as these issues just sweep over them, washing them out into an ocean of strip malls, car dealerships, meaningless elections, and professional sports infatuation.
I thought that it’d be interesting to imagine what this world and its murky prospects would look like a little ways down the line. Being a fan of horror; true horror not slasher crap, injecting some aspects of horror which could really happen seemed fun as well. And ultimately having humans faced with apocalyptic events also up’d the ante, so to speak. All of these factors lead to the germination of Fading Empires, and its impetus began as I started to construct the scaffolding around its universe. I wanted to make it as entertaining as possible while still giving people something to think about, should they want to. I’ve had a few people, who wanted to keep the blinders on, review my first novel in the series as an action piece, and nothing more. And that’s fine but there is much more there for those with critical thinking skills who can step away from themselves and their own fragile egos. I’ve also created a wide range of characters (it is an epic series after all) that with the hopes that each reader out there can identify with at least one of the protagonists, or…antagonists, as the case may be. The goal was that you, the reader, could come along and feel as though you are making a difference by living vicariously through the trials, challenges, issues, and growth that the characters face and undergo.
Rising Storm is only the first of twelve novels and this is only the beginning. My publisher, Assent Publishing, and I are planning to expand the Fading Empires brand to include a series of films, video games, and merchandise. You’ll be seeing a lot more of Fading Empires as soon as it gains commercial visibility and viability.
Ian Kane is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and author. His new novel, Rising Storm: Fading Empires Volume I, is available now at the following links:
And don’t forget to check out his website: iankanebooks.com