Hi there internets! I'm Willy Yonkers and while most of the time I'm making weird gizmos on my computer and then 3D printing them in my home workshop, I'm getting ready to launch my debut novel, SHIFTER. Now I know this might be a little confusing to some as 'shifter' is a term used by and name of a mini-genre of stories about changelings of some sort - ie. werewolves, vampires, faeries, etc. This story has nothing to do with that, sorry. LOL.
SHIFTER revolves around our young heroine Ellen Lebelo, who is an over educated, under employed delivery 'girl' in an alternate near-future New York city. That seems like a mouthful, but imagine Fry from Futurama but with a brain. The year is 2025 and as a 25 year old, she's spent her whole life in a different world where the fourth plane in the 9/11 attacks was actually successful and crashed into the US capitol building in Washington DC killing a number of congress people and senators (along with countless aids, capitol police, custodial workers, etc, but they would have little impact on the diverging timelines.)
Nothing radically changes at this point, but it does give the war on terror more momentum and backing behind the ensuing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. The delicious sci-fi goodness comes when a small semiconductor manufacturer who was researching alternative stealth technologies to support the war effort discovers a startling and unexpected effect of their experiments: the ability to phase-shift matter into a state where it doesn't interact with other matter in our world giving 'SHIFT-ed' objects to pass through walls, trains, and other people like ghosts.
Given the seemingly never ending war and disruption to the Middle-East oil supply, the world's economy is mostly in shambles. The Occupy Wall street sentiment has stayed strong even into the 2020's even if there is no organized resistance to our corporate overlords. Ellen is somewhat unusual in this light-dystopia as she has a college degree and even more than that, a masters in electrical engineering - all with no crushing student loans. She's not rich by any means, but 'lucky' in that one of the 1% was responsible for her mother's untimely death when she was a child.
After graduating from Columbia in New York city, she's dumped back into the real world where her chances of finding gainful employment are slim to none. To scrape by, she does deliveries for her landlord who owns a run-down Indian restaurant and has a side hustle of sketchy package deliveries all over the city. Life is not easy or safe, but she's comfortable in this violent and hopeless world, taking solace in her close-knit group of friends, routine, and free-wheeling lifestyle.
All this is thrown into chaos when some thugs try to rob her employer and she's forced to intervene. She quickly slips down the rabbit hole of the mob controlled underworld where speed is life and life is cheap. The SHIFT technology has been Shanghaied by the mob to run something akin to Roman gladiator battles beneath the streets of the city in small jet-powered aircraft between the various syndicates that control everything from a neighborhood to an entire borough.
This world of illicit racing holds a certain forbidden appeal due to her mothers accident and Ellen's own criminal record of joyriding in stolen cars. The fat cash prizes don't hurt either. Soon she's a star and catches herself betraying her friends and values. I could go on, but that would spoil all the fun surprises in store.
***This story is full of smart / creative women geeking out over forbidden knowledge. There's intense racing scenes, both above and below the streets of New York. There's some pretty graphic violence, a single - embarrassingly frank and clumsy sex scene, but no sexual violence or anything that should trigger nasty memories/experiences beyond car crashes and some 'conservative-uncle' level of casual racism.***