Featured Book: 'Liquid Cool' by Austin Dragon
Austin Dragon's cyberpunk crime series Liquid Cool follows a classic hover-car restorer-turned-private detective named Cruz in the super-city of Metropolis. He works cases along the “mean streets” in a futuristic, ever-raining world of monolith skyscrapers, corporate and government corruption, cyborgs, samurai, and plenty of surprises. Dragon describes his novel as a mix of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Dashiell Hammett's 1929 detective novel, The Maltese Falcon. Why is it called Liquid Cool? It's the name of the detective agency that Cruz joins.
Dragon, who's inspired by Michael Crichton and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, wanted to write a fun ongoing sci-fi/mystery series that didn't have a clear ending, and was not about serious social commentary like his other series, After Eden. When writing Liquid Cool, Dragon wanted to capture the gritty cyberpunk atmosphere of Blade Runner, and sets it centuries in our future where such a world would be more likely.
Interview with Austin Dragon
Since your cyberpunk world is set in the real world, do you take time to talk about how societies have developed throughout the years and the history before the future setting of the book?
Very good question because my other After Eden series definitely had to do that over the course of a few books. With Liquid Cool, I take the opposite approach. You know it’s in the future but I leave it to the reader to be kind of their own detective to piece this world together without much exposition at all. Explanations are done with a sentence or two, or through dialog. I think it works splendidly because you get more and more acclimated to the world as your read, learning, in an entertaining and effortless way, as you go.
What do you think is the most interesting element of your mystery that readers would be most drawn to?
In the free prequel, These Mean Streets, Darkly, we are introduced to both the main case and the main bad guy--Red Rabbit, the psycho cyborg, with his “lightning gun.” So when we start reading Liquid Cool, we already have two questions in our mind: Will this guy, Cruz, be able to solve the case and save the girl; and can he really tangle with Red and defeat him? Before we ever meet Cruz, we’re asking this so there’s a build up to his introduction and then we really get sucked into the story as it races along.
How does technology affect the main conflicts of your story?
The technology of the story is everywhere— hover-car traffic, bionic limbs and cybernetic implants, elevator “capsules” (building are, after all, 200 stories and more), jet-pack-wearing police, etc. There is also the specific use of technology involved in both the perpetration of the main crime of the novel and its solving.
What makes your book different from 'Blade Runner'? Is Cruz similar to Rick Deckard's detective role in a way?
Cruz in Liquid Cool is not professional law enforcement like Deckard; Cruz falls into the private detective profession. Cruz is a natural as a private eye, but he’s still a civilian and learning as he goes. In Blade Runner, there is no obvious presence of government, separate from the police, but in Liquid Cool we see both government and megacorporations at play. In the movie Blade Runner, many times there seems to be an absence of people; but in Liquid Cool, even despite the skyscraper monoliths, people are spilling out over the streets everywhere.
How do you describe the androids and robots cyborgs in your novel?
In the world of Liquid Cool, we see a multitude of cyborgs of all kinds—legal and illegal (criminals). Even Cruz’s girlfriend is technically a cyborg. What is different about Liquid Cool from other cyberpunk novels is the treatment of robots and androids, which will be explored more in future novels. There is very much an anti-robot/anti-android sentiment in the society because, as the people would say, “them robots are taking our jobs!” With all the automation in the society it’s funny how if the machine looks humanoid it’s bad, if not, it’s okay.
Tell us about an interesting character or group of characters in your novel.
There’s a lot of them, but let’s focus on our unlikely hero and star of the series—Cruz. He’s cool and contrarian; hates and has avoided any violence his whole life, but can shoot a water fly off your nose (thanks to his video game prowess); he’s somewhat of a germophobe, but became a well-known amateur hover-car restorer and sometime speed racer on the streets; and he’s probably the only employer who can say he met his trusted secretary by cutting off her arms—(not what you think, but now you have to read the book!)
What's the most challenging part of writing this book?
I can’t say there was any after being immersed in my other After Eden series which spans a hundred years in our future and follows the people, places, politics, and religions up to and including the outbreak of World War III. After you tackle that, then anything else you write will be easy. Yes, a bit of social commentary slips into Liquid Cool (though not in any politically correct way)—it is part of my DNA to have you think about something—but the series is primarily about action, fantastic science fiction, and laughs.
For more information about Liquid Cool and Austin Dragon's other books, check out the author's official website - austindragon.com