Sunday 5 November 2017

Blog Tour Guest Post - The Platform by J Noah Summerfield

The Platform
Author: J. Noah Summerfield
Release Date: June 30, 2017
Keywords: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Oil Platform, Oil Rig, Detective, Cannibalism, Ocean
Categories: Science Fiction/ Horror
Page Count: 256
ISBN: 978-1543017311
IMPRINT: Dark Serpent

ONE LINER: Isolated on an oil platform in a post-apocalyptic future, fear and hunger will push the limits of what it means to be human.

Book Description:
The continents are plagued by poison and fire.  And so, on the deep-water oil platform, the Alpine, one of the last remnants of mankind must find a way to survive. Beatrice Plantain, an experienced security official, intends to go about her day and monitor the food rations, but other people on the platform - a grizzled roughneck, a spiritual leader, a feared administrator, a washed up elder, a young hunter and a simple chum-maker - have other plans, as does an explosion that spoils the platform’s food supplies.  Facing starvation, the Alpine’s occupants turn against each other.  Violent skirmishes lead to the death of a young boy.  Who killed the child? And what became of the boy's missing twin? With the Alpine tearing itself apart, Beatrice must uncover who killed the boy. Her investigation will force her to confront the Alpine's terrible past, and what that means for the Alpine's future.

Buy Links:
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First things first, The Platform is premised on a conceit where a post-apocalyptic story takes place on an oil platform. The irony alone accomplishes most of the writing. Oil platforms are powerful engines for civilization. They are also among the most destructive machines mankind has created. In this story, that ‘engine’ acts as a lifeboat for one of the last dregs of mankind.

Oil platforms are also a rich mine for the cultural imagination. That imagination is fed by a succession of current event: the Deepwater Horizon blowout on April 20, 2010, the oil spills in Kuwait from the Gulf War, debates over expanding oil exploration, disputes over the controversial Keystone oil pipeline and the continued debate over oil’s place in national economies. The oil platform is a primordial concept, something that reflects what we are as a species and the state of our civilization. It is a pillar of mankind’s engineering marvels, a mixture of geological and economic forces. It is also a benchmark for how far mankind is willing to go to achieve its goals, and what humans can accomplish. 

And that’s the point. That is the central question that underlies The Platform: Is a course of action worth pursuing just because we convince ourselves that it is right?

Of course, this works because The Platform isn’t actually about current events. It is a piece of speculative fiction. The book is about our future. The Platform takes us to a dark place. A place that is isolated and cold. It’s in a world where Earth’s continents are poisoned, a world of water and machinery. It is about occupants that don’t get shore leave. They don’t get a salary. They don’t develop marketable skills. Their education is slipshod. They don’t have real families.

Speaking of a world history that doesn’t exist anymore, do we remember the Lakeview Gusher blowout from 1909. I didn’t even know it happened until I wrote this book. That spill poured over nine million barrels of oil into California. That number is over twice as much as what Deepwater Horizon spilled.

More than the cultural baggage that comes with these structures, oil platforms serve the story. The Alpine is a place that struggles with isolation. It is a place of abandonment. Claustrophobia. Frustration. Cold.

With this story, The Platform explores a world where mankind continues to devolve over its better judgment and into a deranged image of humanity. It is an image we know from Mad Max, Delicatessen, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.

This predicament tracks the experience of the characters in The Platform. My characters are in situations where they have to confront their humanity for themselves, what it means to be human. They have to look inwards and wonder what part of their humanity is left to preserve. When the world is collapsing around them, what lengths will seemingly good people go to justify their actions to themselves? What lengths will people go to rationalize inhuman actions? Since this is a post-apocalyptic quasi-horror genre novel, they generally fail. That’s no surprise.

These are the things that I think about when I take Kelvin, my dog, running.

Functionally, it became clear early on that the book would shift perspectives among its characters so that they could tackle this question. Not only could they tackle it, but it would be scary, internal and intimate. It forces them to reason through every moment. One meal at a time. One sound at a time. One body at a time.

This approach required me to get into the characters’ heads. It also made writing this book a bone chilling process. It occasionally sent chills up my spine when I got into some of these characters’ heads. It scared me that this character could go to this place, and it scared me even more that it meant my mind was the one that actually went there. That was a very unsettling realization. On more than one instance, I had to take a break from writing and watch a Pixar movie. The upside is that, when it did happen, I felt like I solved a story problem about as well as I could.

About the Author
The Platform is J. Noah Summerfield’s first novel. His non-fiction writing has appeared through various scholarly journals, including Quinnipiac Probate Law Journal, New York Law School Law Review, Creighton Law Review, Rocky Mountain Communication Review, Transnational Dispute Management and the NYSBA Entertainment Art and Sports Law Journal. He is a recipient of the Ernst C. Stiefel award from New York Law School and the Phil Cowan BMI award from the Entertainment Art and Sports Law Section of the New York State Bar Association. He lives in Florida with Kelvin, the dog. Now, on to the next novel… perhaps something involving pirates…


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