Tuesday, February 11, 2014


James K. Decker was born in New Hampshire in 1970, and has lived in the New England area since that time. He developed a love of reading and writing early on, participating in young author competitions as early as grade school, but the later discovery of works by Frank Herbert and Issac Asimov turned that love to an obsession.

He wrote continuously through high school, college and beyond, eventually breaking into the field under the name James Knapp, with the publication of the Revivors trilogy (State of Decay, The Silent Army, and Element Zero). State of Decay was a Philip K. Dick award nominee, and won the 2010 Compton Crook Award. The Burn Zone is his debut novel under the name James K. Decker.

Decker applied the Page 69 Test to Fallout, the sequel to The Burn Zone, and reported the following:
Page 69 of Fallout is a bit tricky, in that it involves the novel's secondary plot. Is it representative of the book? Yes and no - the secondary plot weaves into the main plot as the story moves forward and an important piece of that occurs on page 69; however if you were to read only page 69 it may leave you with the impression that the book is about something other than what it is. The gist of page 69 is that Sam (the main protagonist) has returned to her apartment to find a Reunification Church member (called 'gonzos' by the locals) waiting for her. Since the cult has recently indoctrinated her younger brother (as a means to get closer to her) she is not pleased to see the man, but when she confronts him he presents her with a letter from the cult's leader, Gohan Song. After initially refusing it, she is convinced to at least read what he has to say:
I turned the envelope over in my hands. The calligraphy characters displayed the meaning of my name.

Little Star.

I detected a faint, sweet smell, and sniffed the paper. It had been perfumed.

“That isn’t creepy,” I muttered, but in spite of all the shit I’d just given the gonzo I had to admit to being a little curious. I tore the gold sticker, and opened the envelope that contained a single square card with no fold. Gohan had written on it in columns of little, precise characters.
Xiao-Xing Shao,

I wish to invite you as my special guest to the new haan colony of Xinzhongzi in anticipation of its grand opening. There is an important matter I would like very much to discuss with you, and so I sincerely hope you will consider my invitation in spite of any issues I may have had with your family in the past. I look forward to your reply.

All the best,

Gohan Sòng
“Unreal,” I said. I used my phone to scan the coded seal he’d stamped in the corner, then texted the number that it pulled.

Eat me.
Gohan Song has, for reasons Sam doesn't understand yet, taken a keen interest in her. The letter represents his most forward attempt to make contact with her (and he doesn't take her rejection of it lightly).

His interest in her stems from her relationship with the novel's alien race the Haan, however, and it is her interactions with them that drives the main plot forward. In The Burn Zone, Sam trusted the haan completely. By its end, she learned things which have shaken that trust and so by the time we meet up with her again in Fallout she is playing a dangerous game in order to uncover the truth that garners the attention of the Haan, the government, and Gohan's people.
Visit the official James K. Decker website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue