Title: Heart Threaded
Author: James L Graetz
Genre: Science Fiction Dystopian
In a world where heartbeats are the currency, 18-year-old Juliet is trying to save a friend from a lifetime of heartbeat debt. When her father, head of the powerful heartbeat debt company, refuses to remove the debt, she seeks help from Romeo, an underground hacker. When Romeo meets Juliet, their lives will never be the same. Together, they realize the heartbeat debts are more enslaved than they appear. The two form a connection, but the Heart Threads that track debt have other more insidious uses. Juliet is caught between her loyalty to her father, her love for Romeo, and doing the right thing. Romeo, known for hacking and removing heartbeat debts, is the opposite of everything that Juliet’s father has worked for.
Can two people from such different worlds be together? Juliet isn’t just anyone, her father is the powerful CEO, the man who tries to enslave everyone with the new Heart Thread technology. And Romeo is one of those rebels fighting for freedom. Can two people from such different worlds be together?
Separated by class and ideals, for Romeo to get to Juliet, and for Juliet to save him from her father and change the world, Juliet will have to risk everything. A fast-paced Young Adult set in a dystopian science fiction future with Romeo & Juliet themes. If you love underdogs vs corporate control; this tension-filled dystopian science fiction adventure, HEART THREADED, is inspired by Shakespeare and Cyberpunk. A gritty adventure of young rebellion against class divides and the fight for hope. No matter how many heartbeats, you only have one death.
“I said, it’s new tech, Heart-threads they call it.” Umbra ground his teeth, as if I were a child who wasn’t listening.
No HeartStone to Freeload. Those things were my bread and butter; I could hack them with relative ease. My internal viewer would visualize the vibrations of the heartbeat and the perturbations of neural networks, which enabled me to read the signature and reverse-engineer the entry codes. A flaw in the system, which I kept entirely to myself.
The debt was always to be paid in heartbeats. Clocking in and spending heartbeats on the job was the way the system kept its accounts. I looked into his heart with my analog vision. Swirls of regret and fear gave way to something else. Like a black mark on his heart, something appeared there, pulsating with each beat. It wasn’t clear, but it was definitely new. Yet, what it was I could not see. His heartbeat with the usual flickering rhythm, like clockwork, and yet nothing like a clock.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’ve never seen it before. Is there any device, a stone?” I held up my own hacked version of the regular HeartStone monitor.
“No stone,” Aces said. “They just put you in an enormous machine, it’s all black inside, pressure on your chest, and it feels like all the air gets sucked out and let back in an instant, then you’re free. That’s all I can tell ya.”
I probed at his chest with my fingers. There was no sign of any device, outside or inside, apart from the tiny black dot that stood out in his bioelectric aura.
“It appears you don’t have a clue. You better work it out quick. Everyone gets this now. If you can’t figure it out, you’ll be no use to us.” Umbra’s harsh tone couldn’t be mistaken. “And your rent is due.” Aces cringed, as if he realized the lack of usefulness included him.
Even though there was no formal arrangement for rent, seeing as this place had been owned by my mother before she died, I’d had to pay my way to the gangs that ruled the Underground streets. Everyone did. Stuck between two worlds. Above you were a slave to the corporations who bought and paid for every privilege, while below the strongest of the gangs ruled the lawless streets.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
It’s a cross genre, unique, and interesting story. The influences in this book are as varied as Shakespeare, Cyberpunk, Futurism, Science and Literary Fiction. HEART THREADED is an ambitious and risky novel that pushed my writing skills to their edge. It’s a story, but it is also a thought piece with many layers.
Heartbeats are currency in the story. If you could live for longer, but at the price of some of your future heartbeats, how many would you be willing to pay? And in truth, when we commit ourselves to something, we are committing some of our precious heartbeats to that, a portion of the blood pumping life that we have.
Romeo and Juliet are the main characters of this story, and while it doesn’t follow closely all the plot points of the Shakespeare story, the main elements of the story that are poignant remain, yet with my own twist.
It’s a look into a possible future, and an analogy for what can happen when rampant amoral capitalism is allowed to run free, and humanity gets removed by the high tech future. What makes us human, our humanity, won’t disappear, it will always be there, and I believe always break through.
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James L. Graetz is a writer from Australia. He works as a neuroscience nerd by day and science fiction and fantasy writer by night. He may or may not be part cyborg.
Neon Digital Darkness is a short anthology with a backstory to Heart Threaded, his latest release novel.
He is accompanied by his loyal Border Collie who would rather go for walks than allow writing, and a one-eyed rescue cat that thinks he should have his glasses knocked off when he's reading.
He is about to start a PhD in neuroscience which may lead to some interesting fictional deviations. Stay tuned for more releases.
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