Saturday, February 27, 2021

"The Quake Cities"

Born in Texas, Mark Wheaton worked in a computer factory before getting his start as a writer for such movie magazines as Total Film, Fangoria, Shivers, SFX and several others. After leaving journalism, Wheaton worked as a writer for video games, comic books, and movies, including writing scripts for New Line, Sony, Universal, Miramax, HBO, A&E, Syfy, Legende, Disney Channel, and others while working with filmmakers such as Sam Raimi, Michael Bay, Steven Soderbergh, George Tillman, Gavin O'Connor, Janusz Kaminski, and Clark Johnson.

Wheaton applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Quake Cities, and reported the following:
From page 69:
‘No, no,’ Chernov’s voice called from above. ‘Y’all come up, too.’


Este knew they’d run into somebody on the way to the railhead, but she’d hoped it wouldn’t be a random Garrison squad. If it was the National Guard, they’d at least get inside the wire before they’d have to answer to somebody, possibly with a bribe or calling in a favor.

But Garrison? They were corrupt from start to finish. If somebody was coming into the QZ, they’d get tariffed. Coming out? Also tariffed. Smuggling supplies in or out? Also tariffed. This especially included anything coming off the trains. Worse, they had a piece of the LAQZ drug trade, which made it almost a monopoly. If you bought from them, you paid their markup. Sold to them, you did so at cost. Did either with another crew? They just might shoot you.

‘What do you want to do?’ Wilfredo asked quietly.

‘Like we have a choice,’ Este said, tugging Casey’s leash and leading him up the steps.

‘Hands where we can see ’em!’ Chernov demanded more urgently.

Este twisted Casey’s leash around her wrist and raised her palms. ‘Right here, Keith.’

She remembered his voice. He’d been on the escort team of some corporate outfit, looking to reopen some LA City oil fields and had introduced himself as being from Georgia. He’d hit on her. She’d blown him off.

‘Estefania QuiƱones!’ Chernov exclaimed. ‘It’s like I had a hunch ... no, a premonition you’d be involved with this. On your knees, guys. ’Sup, Fredo?’

‘What’s up, yourself?’ Wilfredo asked, kneeling beside Alice and Este. ‘Mind lowering the guns?’

Chernov responded by aiming his gun at Casey. ‘Casey, right? Bet you’d love to take a chomp out of my butt about now, huh?’

Este shot a look at the Alsatian. To her surprise, he seemed to barely notice the Garrison patrol. His focus was on whatever was coming up the tunnel behind them.

‘OK, you caught us,’ Este said. ‘How much to let us go? We’re burning daylight.’

‘No can do,’ Chernov said. ‘There was some incident outside D-Town last night. Big gun battle between AKR and Albert what’s-his-name’s outfit...’

Husti, Este thought.
Surprisingly, I think maybe yes that Page 69 of The Quake Cities gives a great window in to the book? The heroes of the story – Alice, Este, Wilfredo, and Este’s dog, Casey – have just escaped from the Los Angeles Quake Zone following deadly encounters with multiple teams of mercenaries all trying to collect the bounty on the mysterious Alice. To escape, they’ve used abandoned Metro Rail tunnels and have detected a new pursuer, which will turn out to be a pair of mountain lions genetically modified to scent down and hunt a single prey: Alice. When they emerge, they encounter a military patrol. Rather than help them, however, it turns out the military – which ostensibly keeps people from entering the Quake Zones but really just takes a hefty cut from the LA QZ’s burgeoning black market – interrogates them about a gun battle that happened inside the wire the night before, not realizing Alice was at the center of it. As they talk, the lions draw near and the action is about to ramp up again…
Visit Mark Wheaton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Emily Eternal.

--Marshal Zeringue