Dan O'Brien is editor of Empirical. Distributed nationally, each issue of the Chico-based magazine delves into the world of human experience with a literary sensibility and willingness to explore new paths. But O'Brien is also a prolific novelist, honing his craft with each exploration of a new world or a human mind.
"Born in Connecticut," he writes in a published interview, "I moved with my family several times over the course of my childhood. Having lived in several states and attended many institutions, I have a unique perspective of the human condition. Each new place, every new relationship, has allowed for me to paint from a rich easel of colors. A lifelong practitioner and enthusiast of martial arts, elements of spiritualism and eastern culture have found a home in my works."
In "Cerulean Dreams" ($14.95 in paperback from CreateSpace; also in Amazon Kindle format), O'Brien imagines a future in which "the world had become an immensely safe place. There was no war. Poverty had been abolished, laws and rituals instituted that would maintain the pleasant temperament of the new-formed society." Every citizen is "implanted in their temple with a motherboard chip." They sleep by day and arise at night. Utopia.
A great many lives had been "lost in the Water Rights Wars of 2076" but, as the news reports, "it marked the inception of the Cerulean Dreams Corporation. And eventually the gathering of the citizens of Earth into the newly-manufactured Orion, the first and last safe haven for humankind."
But utopia is not what it seems in this page-turner. Alexander Marlowe refuses to upgrade his chip software and goes off the grid. He is investigating the seeming murders of young women when he encounters Dana, still alive. Haunted by "shadows," Marlowe and Dana plan to escape Orion, to get outside the city where there is nothing but lifeless desert. Or so they've been told.
The Company, and the mysterious group behind it, want Dana back no matter the cost. What follows are a series of horrific and bloody encounters with the assassin Armon, and the discovery in the desert of a village shaman who points Marlowe to the answers he seeks. Minds must be free, not controlled--but there is a gruesome cost to that freedom.