today I get the pleasure of a chit-chat with Runt from Damon Suede's book Grown Men. *smiles*
Hi Runt, come in. Make yourself comfortable. I have a lot I want to ask you, but let’s start with the obvious first. Tell me about yourself. Who is Runt?
Nothing to tell; I’m nobody. Grew up broke and pissed in a complaint department backwater. Ditched my folks early, hit the spaceport when I was old enough to hold a plexi-knife. In and out of HardCell detention till they shipped me off to fight an executive mutiny in Epsilon Indi. Two years in the as a noncompetition soldier trying not to get dicked or dead. Shit jobs, shit pay, no rights. Finally, two years ago I applied as a colonist in their Terraform division. How bad could it be, right? Yeah. The fuck did I know.
Where do you come from?
Proxima Centauri, near HardCell’s clone farms. My parents were both vat-grown employees and worked in data entry on one of the large customer service moons. Odd’s Gods was it awful! Totally suburban, little houses like pill cases full of shiny tablets. Soon as I hit puberty, I stowed away on a freighter headed for the spaceport. Never looked back, and they never looked for me.
How did you end up on…uh…what’s the name of this planet?
--Toid. Planetoid! Oi! It’s too small to be a planet.
*blush* Oh, yeah, sorry. Planetoid. Um… which Planetoid…
You’re on Planetoid HD10307-E in Andromeda. I signed a seven year indenture contract with HardCell’s Terraformation division. Seven years out here and I earn full corporate citizenship as a voting HardCell shareholder. I’m invested in this place. If I can keep from getting retired, I get a slice of manmade paradise: wealth, wife, whatever. HardCell means business!
Funny thing. When I signed, I didn’t know where it was exactly. I knew it was out on one of the spiral arms of the galaxy, but space is bigger than you think. See: HardCell identified HD10307 as a potential habstar early on and started scouting for likely worlds. All the light/heat conditions seemed solid and this little planetoid had a near-Terran balance of oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Plus a nickel core! HardCell fiddled the geography a bit, melted the ice, dragged it into a new orbit, so we’d have something like the old Earth clock and calendar. Not so bad now. They fixed it up a lot. The smaller sun keeps it warm all year round; the moons keep the tide pretty even. One day it’s gonna be like paradise. You watch: people will pay to visit our beaches.
Awesome. So How long were you there before Ox got there?
Every day of eighteen months. No wife. No break. Nothing. On this rock with bugs and eels for company. Every building I built. Every seed I planted. Every animal I raised. Alone. Yeah? So fucking hungry I ate leaves a couple times. Leaves. It’s not much, but I killed myself to build this place. I’ve never been prouder of anything I ever did. When’s the last time you built an ecosystem from scratch?
*laughs* I bet you’re proud. That’s quite amazing. What was it like when you first got there?
Big lump of pumice floating in the middle of a broken toilet.
Sand and rock and artificial sand. Almost no plants. No wildlife yet, no insects even. Fertile dirt and the air warm and wet as spit. Over there, where the palms are now, they’d dumped this pile of seven supply containers along with my life support canister. Oh yeah, and a Habitat that hadn’t even been deployed. I swear. I woke up, crawled out of a stasis sleeve, so fucking sick I could barely stand up and I had to activate the Habitat alone. Could barely see…orange light, clouds boiling, fog that sat on the waves… Back then it was still storming all the time. HardCell hadn’t evened out the climate and the rain was hot still, and salty like blood. Ground lightning striking the sky.
See: I couldn’t find my assigned clone-wife anywhere. I was pissed, y’know? ‘Cause I figured she’d woken early and why hadn’t she started unpacking our gear? Had they assigned me someone stupid? The fog made it impossible and I kept digging and digging and then I found half of her sleeve scorched down on the shore. Part of it, y’know? And ashes. She’d incinerated on entry. Awful. Yeah. And I couldn’t report it, ‘cause there’s no one else. I mean, each co-farmer couple got dropped on islands scattered across the surface, but I’m probably 1000 kilometers from my nearest neighbor. You probably know more about them than I do. What was I--? RIght.
Once I realized my co-farmer had been accidentally retired and I was stuck, I didn’t have a choice. I wasn’t going to risk HardCell replacing me. I had a fucking world to build, didn’t I? It rained for four days solid while I sorted out the shed and the equipment by myself. Fog and hot rain and everything smelled like sulfur still. Ugh. I didn’t stop sweating or get dry for weeks.
Oi! Oi! It fucking well didn’t look like this, I’ll say that. Palm trees and perfect waves under the suns. Now it looks real but then? Nowhere near. A mess it was the first six months. And no clone-wife! I did the best I could. Lucky thing I’d grown up rough. I hadn’t been a soldier or a thief I’d have died.
You’re a farmer? Tell me about your farm.
I operate a commercial protein combine under HardCell’s farmstead program. This planetoid is a manmade harvest environment: freshwater seas, fertile archipelago, no predators.
Since I signed up to terraform HD10307-E, I’m earning a slice of this pie, yeah? My pie. Everything you see will be my property one day, once I work off my contract. See: HardCell has to feed millions and millions of employees and all that grub has to come from somewhere. They began designating agricultural solar systems about fifteen years ago and these systems in Andromeda have gotten the best tech available. Cutting edge biodesign, I mean. None of that powdered fish you get from Tau Ceti. Disgusting. Not here…we got the best planetary design, the nicest weather, the freshest genetics.
Now, you can see down there in the cove. That whole lagoon enclosure is for the eel-herd. Mainly I’m ranching conger eel hybrids. HardCell Biodesign altered their temperament and biology to encourage herding and minimize aggression. More flesh on them, and more nutrients. Some of them can get up to three or four meters. No joke. Chance’s pants! Big ugly bastards, but tasty as hell, I’ve heard. Well, I haven’t eaten eel before, and mine aren’t, y’know, thriving at this point. Eel meat’s expensive as hell and way better than mealpak paste. Perfect luxury product. Another couple months I should be able to start harvesting them. And then I want to branch out into pork, maybe. Dunno.
Then if you see up there, up on the crop terraces, I got soy, mango, and a new kudzu-lentil hybrid that came with Ox that’s already grown over a foot a day. The big one has been soy because it’s so profitable and because it’s good for the soil’s nitrogen levels. That’ll pay off the next couple years. I installed the soybeaner up there too and that processes tofu and Soyshimi onsite for shipment. Those are all gravy on top of the eel protein. Low stress, low effort. The bee-moths pollinate, fertilize, and tend the plants. All I gotta do is big repairs. They just don’t make enough money, but they do give me stuff to eat while I’m getting set up.
How is it now that Ox is there with you?
Well, Ox has only been here a couple days at this point so that may change. I’ve been on my own for eighteen months so just having another fucking human being is a relief. That’s how it is. I dunno. He’s scary at first look. The enhancements and all. I thought he was trying to con me, or I dunno…nevermind. I got used to it, but it’s not natural for people to be alone that long. I wasn’t crazy or dying or anything, but it’s…better now. Yeah.
*smiles* Better is good. What’s your favorite thing about Ox?
Ox? That he’s enhanced out the wazoo. That he’s gigantic enough to do jobs I hate doing and quiet enough I don’t have to put up with any shit. He’s not as dumb as you think. He fixes gear, and he doesn’t complain even though-- No. I think my favorite thing is that Ox wants to be here as much as I do. Terraforming out here at the ass-end of the galaxy is fucking tough and every mutant cell of his body is on board. That right there is the best thing.
What do you guys do for fun?
Me? I like advertainment: big, dumb, high-budget stuff with hot spokestars and great product placement. Nudity and explosions. Some comedy. End of the workday I just want to sack out with something mindless and live somewhere else for a couple hours. Feed my eyes with something silly. Take chances I‘ll never get: fight dragons, steal hormones, take revenge on other brands.
Ox likes to swim. Every day. Fucking monster lives in the water if I let him. And build things, I guess. Tinker with tech. I dunno. S’good though ‘cause it gives me some, y’know, alone time. And I guess that’s number three. Masturbation. But all men do that for fun, yeah? I guess that’s okay to say. Never mind.
*laughs* Yeah, that’s ok to say. So… *grins*…tell me about Damon….
What’s to tell? Some guy who makes advertainment around old Earth, I think. Not HardCell, though. He works for some other conglomerate. DreamTide? RipSpinner? Yeah. Anyways, he saw a picture of Ox and me some perv posted at a rival company and then he wanted to talk to other employees about us. He got assigned to write some kind of “transmission” about HD10307-E… Luck’s fuckery! Who reads anything, but I figure, what the hell, advertainment brings customers to HardCell and that helps us, helps the farm. Sure. If somebody wants to know what it’s like out here, what do I care? For all I know he’s moving to the next island over and needed pointers.
How long have you known him?
Five or six months. He saw that picture of us and then sent a request for information. Weird as hell, but what do you expect?
Did you enjoy working with him on your story?
When I had time. There’s not a lot of extra time out here, but I answered as I could when my chores were done. Damon just kept sending weird questions and I tried to answer. About the farm mostly, about our workday, eels and quotas and equipment and whatever. About Ox, too. He asked a lot about Ox, which I couldn’t answer ‘cause I don’t know do I? He got pretty personal actually. And I probably told him more than I should’ve, but who actually reads anyways. Nobody. So who’s to know? Or maybe HardCell wants to make an advertainment about this place to recruit and I’ll get an endorsement out of it. That’d be good.
*nods* That would be good. How did he do telling your story?
Like I read! That’s a fucking laugh. If HardCell made the holo-vid maybe I’d watch it. I’d go to the premiere, but we gotta world to build out here, Ox and me. I been working solo for so long and I plan to catch up before anyone decides to retire. That Damon guy? I’m sure he got it all fucking wrong. I mean, he couldn’t come here himself. I invited him plenty, but he didn’t and so I bet he got stuff screwed up. Advertainment always gets stuff wrong.
*laughs* They kinda do don’t they. Do you have more story to tell about him?
You kidding? SO much more. Ox is finally starting to settle in. And we’re gonna make this place into the best farmstead HardCell has under contract. Promotions. Bonuses. Franchises. You watch. We’re gonna become offworld executives, Ox and me. We’re gonna make so much money we can take on the HardCell suits! This is just a launching pad, this island. We got places to do, people to be! Hell, I bet Ox could be an executive now if he wanted, but together, who knows what we can do. You watch!
Have any dirt you can dish on him? *wink*
Damon? Well, I know he’s a kinky bastard. Some of the questions he was asking about me and Ox, y’know, like pictures and descriptions and such got—uh— pretty personal. And I think he probably got off on some of that. Fine by me. I guess. Doesn’t hurt us any. I got plenty to go round. Not as much as Ox, but plenty.
But dirty stuff for sure. And no way is he a loyal HardCell customer. I could just tell from the way he asked things. He shops around, and you can’t trust anyone without brand allegiance… no telling the kinds of skeezy people he hangs out with. I bet if you went and checked out his Habitat, you’d find all kinds of freaky advertainment for rival companies, even. Hell, I bet you’d find, y’know, stories written down. How fucking weird is that!
*laughs loudly* Plenty weird that! Thanks for coming to chat with me Runt. That was fun. *smiles*
Thanks back, citizen. HardCell means business!
This week’s giveaway… Any one backlist book from Rachel Haimowitz, Aleksandr Voinov, L.A. Witt, Brita Addams, or Cat Grant (“Frontlist” books, i.e. Riptide releases and newest non-Riptide release, are excluded, as are the Courtland Chronicles).
The fine details...
- This week’s giveaway is for an eBook copy as listed above.
- To enter, leave a comment on this post.
- All commenters will also be entered in end of tour giveaway of AP 3 prize packages. Details here.
- All comments will also be entered in the year-end Riptide grand prize giveaway of an ereader; Kindle, Nook or iPad. Each post commented on counts as an entry.
- Backlist book giveaways do NOT include books released in the last 3 months.
- This week's giveaway doesNOT include Riptide releases.
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- If the chosen winners do not respond to my email within 48 hours, another winner will be selected.
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