The End of Ordinary by Edward Ashton
GENRE: Science Fiction
BLURB: Drew Bergen is an Engineer. He builds living things, one gene at a time. He’s also kind of a doofus. Six years after the Stupid War — a bloody, inconclusive clash between the Engineered and the UnAltered — that’s a dangerous combination. Hannah is Drew’s greatest project, modified in utero to be just a bit better at running than most humans. She’s also his daughter. Her plan for high school is simple: lay low and run fast. Unfortunately for Hannah, her cross-country team has other plans.
Jordan is just an ordinary Homo-Sap. But don’t let that fool you — he’s also one of the richest kids at Briarwood, and even though there isn’t a single part of him that’s been engineered, someone has it out for him.
Drew thinks he’s working to develop a spiffy new strain of corn, but Hannah and her classmates disagree. They think he’s cooking up the end of the world. When one of Drew’s team members disappears, he begins to suspect that they might be right. Soon they’re all in far over their heads, with corporate goons and government operatives hunting them, and millions of lives in the balance.
Jennifer: Hello Edward, and welcome to my blog! I read your book and loved it. Please introduce yourself, and tell us how you became a writer:
Edward: My name is Edward Ashton. I’m the author of the novels The End of Ordinary and Three Days in April, as well as of several dozen short stories that have appeared in venues ranging from Louisiana Literature to Escape Pod to the newsletter of an Italian sausage company. I live in Rochester, New York, where I write, hang out with my dog, and occasionally show up to my job as a cancer researcher. As far as how I became a writer goes, I suppose I did that in the same way that anyone does. I wrote. I finished my first novel when I was twelve. (The reviews were not great. My dad called it “hackneyed and derivative.”) I submitted my first story to a professional market when I was fourteen, and, after collecting a massive pile of rejection slips, made my first sale four years later. I should emphasize, though, that the sale was not what made me a writer. A writer is someone who writes, whether that means the author of bestsellers, or the author of a private journal.
Jenn: What inspires you most?
Edward: Most of my best ideas spring from random things I encounter during the day. A big chunk of my first book sprung almost fully formed from a Regina Spektor song. I once got the seed of a short story from five minutes spent hunched into a too-thin jacket, staring down a frozen runway while I waited for my gate-checked bag to come off the plane. Also, my middle daughter is pretty funny. I get a lot of my best laugh lines from her.
Jenn: What were your favorite books when you were young, and what are your favorite books right now?
Edward: When I was younger, I was a big fan of adventure, and I really liked books with quirky characters and a solid dose of humor. Some of my favorites were Spaceling, by Doris Piserchia, Titan, Demon, and Wizard, by John Varley, Dying of the Light, by George R. R. Martin, and Shakespeare’s Planet, by Clifford D. Simak. I still love all of those books, but I will admit that as I’ve gotten older my tastes have taken a slightly darker turn. I love Vonnegut now. I think I’ve read everything he ever wrote at least once. I’m also a big fan of David Brin for his world building, Vernor Vinge for the incredible inventiveness of his aliens, and Greg Bear just because he’s a crazy good story teller. Love me some Anvil of Stars.
Jenn: We have the same favorites – I still have old copies of Titan, Demon, and Wizard – amazing! I do see where you get your writing style from. Tell us about your book – who the main character is, about the villain, and what do you want readers to know about this story?
Edward: The End of Ordinary is set in the near future, which is not entirely a spooky dystopia. Things are actually mostly okay in late twenty-first century upstate New York, despite the occasional super-plague or near-apocalyptic civil war. Drew Bergen works for Bioteka, a custom genetic engineering shop. His daughter Hannah is a fourteen-year-old running phenom who got her awesome lung capacity from Bioteka, and her questionable social skills from her dad. Hannah doesn’t have a ton of friends, so when she meets Devon Morgan at a high school cross-country meet, she’s willing to overlook a few minor flaws—including that Devon’s family is on a government watch list, she’s palling around with what is probably an illegal A.I., and she’s convinced that Hannah’s dad is caught up in a scheme to end the simmering hostility toward the genetically modified elite by wiping the world clean of the unmodified. Hannah and Devon set out to learn whether there’s more to Drew’s work than blight-resistant corn, and hilarity ensues.
Jenn: You obviously know a lot about running – one of the main themes in the book. Can you give us non-runners some good advice?
Edward: When it comes to running, hydration is key. You don’t want food in your stomach at the start of a race, but you do want a good load of water. Unless, that is, you have a small bladder, in which case you may wind up peeing at the side of the course in full view of hundreds of spectators. This makes for awkward conversation at the finish line.
Jenn: LOL – I bet it does! Thank you for being a guest on my blog! Anything else you’d like to add?
Edward: Only a big thank you for hosting me today. It’s been a lot of fun.
Excerpt: “Okay,” he said. “Let’s take this one step at a time. Why do you need accomplices?”
“I already told you,” Micah said. “We are like ninety percent fully opposed to your plans to murder Jordan. Ninety-five percent, even.”
“Quiet,” Bob said. “Grownups are talking now.”
“Micah’s an idiot,” Marta said, “but believe it or not, he’s mostly right. We know about Project Snitch, Daddy.”
Bob’s eyebrows came together at the bridge of his nose.
Marta rolled her eyes.
“Give it up, Dad. I don’t have anything else to do around here, so I snoop. I’ve heard you and Marco talking about Project Snitch more than once.”
“Actually,” I said, “I think Hannah said that the real name for it was Project Dragon-Corn.”
Bob’s face went blank.
“Oh,” he said, after a long, silent pause. “Oh. Oh, honey. You mean project Sneetch.”
I looked at Marta. Marta looked at me. Micah finished his smoothie, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and smiled.
“Uh,” Marta said. “What?”
“Sneetch, honey. Not Snitch. Sneetch.”
“Oh,” Marta said. “I thought you were just making fun of Marco’s accent when you said it that way.”
We all turned to stare at her.
“Anyway,” I said. “Confusion-wise, I’m not sure that’s…”
I slapped my palm to my forehead and let out a long, low groan.
“What?” Micah asked. “Are you having a stroke?”
“Sneetch,” I said. “Project Sneetch. Holy shit, dude. You think you’re Sylvester McMonkey McBean.”
“Right,” Bob said. He leaned back, and crossed his arms over his chest. “See, honey? Your gay boyfriend gets me.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links: Edward Ashton lives with his adorably mopey dog, his inordinately patient wife, and a steadily diminishing number of daughters in Rochester, New York, where he studies new cancer therapies by day, and writes about the awful things his research may lead to by night. He is the author of Three Days in April, as well as several dozen short stories which have appeared in venues ranging from the newsletter of an Italian sausage company to Louisiana Literature and Escape Pod.
You can find him online at edwardashton.com.
Facebook: Edward Ashton Writing
Amazon Buy Link – The End of Ordinary: https://www.amazon.com/End-Ordinary-Novel-Edward-Ashton-ebook/dp/B01N7JTHB6/ref=asap_bc
Amazon Back List: Amazon Buy Link books: https://www.amazon.com/Edward-Ashton/e/B013MMTI1E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1494619770&sr=8-2-ent
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Edward will be awarding a 14 Ounce Nalgene—filled with candy corn! & 1 VeryFit Smart Band (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
My review of ‘The End of Ordinary’
I love sci-fi, and this didn’t disappoint. Hannah, the heroine and a not-quite-human girl, is a runner. Her father, a researcher and genetics engineer, altered her genes in utero, and basically she’s a sort of super-runner designed for speed and distance. But she’s not the only ‘designer human’ – in fact, the world is divided now into the “Alts” (or altered humans) and the “Saps”, (or unaltered humans – the ordinary, good old homo sapiens). Humans being what they are, there was a brief but bloody war where Alts fought Saps and destroyed the A.I.’s in the process. The A.I.’s were computer bugs come to life, and I guess they were collateral damage in what came to be known as “The Stupid War”. They are also illegal now, having evolved into sentient beings and causing humans to feel threatened. The book starts off up when Hannah goes to an exclusive private school with a superlative running team and meets a beautiful unaltered human, Devon. Never having made a friend, she’s amazed and flattered when Devon takes an interest in her, and befriends her. She also meets the handsome and rather mysterious Jordan – a coach for the running team, unaltered human, and unabashedly gay. The story is told from several points of view: Hannah; Hannah’s social dropout, nerdy father; Devon, an unaltered human and fiercely competitive runner; and Jordan – member of one of the wealthiest families on the planet, whose father is fanatically against the Alts. Each person has a different, engaging voice and the story flows easily and quickly from start to finish. I loved the science behind the story, and the philosophy that humans will fight each other over their differences, no matter what they are is an interesting one. The way the author tries to solve the problem is nothing short of astounding and very, very funny. I highly recommend this book for anyone ages 16 and up.