I’ve been continually flattered of late by people telling me they believe my History Camp concept is quite original and asking me where the idea came from. The first History Camp novel, entitled The Lens and the Looker is about an almost Utopian 24th century world where kids are taught not to repeat the mistakes of the past by being forced to live in recreations of cities from Earth’s distant past. There they must experience the hard lives of our ancestors, so they will appreciate their modern civilization. Some unappreciative “hardcases” then find themselves sent back in time to experience the real thing.
Where did this come from? What I brought to the table was my experience in the Green political movement. But there’s also all the visionary books which molded my thinking since I was young. I’ve written a list below and include, not just my SF/Fantasy faves, but some of my general fiction heroes. I believe it’s really important to be expansive in what you read to keep growing and healthy. Here’s a very incomplete list of 20 old and new titles and authors whose work has influenced me greatly. Their order does not reflect rank. I’ve added a little blurb about each.
Young Adult Dystopian
1. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (If it was written now, it would include gene manipulation, but this was written away before that. It set the pattern for so much that came after it.)
2. Unwind, Scott Westerfield (Not for a young, young adult. Mr. Westerfield creeped me out several times in this book. Well done, sir.)
3. The Giver, Lois Lowry (A good example of a well-written “G” rated book. Not an easy feat.)
4. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (Again, not for a young, young adult. The movie was good, the book was friggin’ fantastic. A great example of story arc and keeping the tension tight.)
5. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (the biggest, current phenom, and well deserved)
6. Lord of the Flies, William Golding (The book that made me know I wanted to be a writer.)
7. The Percy Jackson Series, Rick Riordan (Middle grade but I love it and you can tell.)
8. Spin, Robert Charles Wilson (Listed as adult but with young adult characters, this shows a dystopia by nature’s hand)
9. Kindred, Octavia Butler (I love time-travel with no explanation. The best use of throwing people from different times together that I’ve read)
10. Hominoid Series by Robert J. Sawyer (A great alternative universe trilogy where the humans are the bad guys for a while.)
11. Ender’s Game (and the series) by Orson Scott Card (It’s got little kids as heroes, and it works.)
12. Handmaiden’s Tale, Margret Atwood (A great mix of dystopia, but written with a general fiction tone.)
13. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein (The guy’s crazy and he really pushed the bounds of morality, but I couldn’t get enough of him when I was a “hard case” teen.)
14. Ringworld, Larry Niven (Mr. Niven thinks big and out of the box. In a circle, really. I loved his kooky characters.)
15. The House on the Strand, Daphne du Maurier (Time travel with drugs and written by a matronly lady. What were you doing behind closed doors, Daphne?)
16. 1000 Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini (I love this guy’s written voice.)
17. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway (One of my top five.)
18. For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway (My favorite book of all time. He’s the only writer I’m putting in twice. This book informs all my high adventure sequences.)
19. City of Thieves, David Benioff (One of my top five in the last 3 years. I hate this guy. He’s young, talented, written books and movies and . . . Is married to Amanda Peet. Life is good to young Mr. Benioff.)
20. The Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman (One of my top five in the last 3 years. I love the way he writes his characters in this book. You really know what they’re thinking. This is one of the most perfectly written books of a living writer that I’ve read.)
I could have made a list of well over one hundred titles, but this will give you an idea of what I like and inform you of what you can hopefully expect if you read the first book in my new series, The Lens and the Looker. You can find out more by going to: www.history-camp.com . You can also “like” the History Camp Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/historycamptrilogy?v=info.
The Lens and the Looker by Lory Kaufman
Book 1 of The Verona Trilogy
About The Lens and the Looker:
It's the 24th century and humans, with the help of artificial intelligences, (A.I.s) have finally created the perfect society. To make equally perfect citizens for this world, the elders have created History Camps, full-sized recreations of cities from Earth’s distant pasts. Here teens live the way their ancestors did, doing the same dirty jobs and experiences the same degradations. History Camps teach youths not to repeat the mistakes that almost caused the planet to die. But not everything goes to plan.Like in all groups of youth, there are those who rebel, “hard cases” who just don’t get it. In this first installment of a trilogy, three spoiled teens from the year 2347 are kidnapped back in time to 1347 Verona, Italy. There they are abandoned and left with only two choices: adapt to the harsh medieval ways, or die. Hansum, almost 17, is good looking, athletic and, as his A.I. Teacher says, he can charm the fuzz off a peach. Shamira is 15. She has green eyes, auburn hair, and a Caucasian complexion. That's something people don't see that much of in the 24th century. She's sassy, independent and has an artistic genius for drawing. Lincoln, 14, is the smart-Aleck. But you don't have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find his insecurities.There are two types of artificial intelligences (A.I.s) in the 24th-century. The first are authorized by society and very conservative. Then there are ‘genies’. Made by black-market hackers, or blackers, these rascals are the bi-polar opposite of their unadventurous cousins. A genie’s aim in life is to help rebellious youth make mischief. Pan, is a very mischievous genie. A curious mix of past and future, he’s an eccentric, all-knowing, holographic artificial intelligence in the cartoon shape of the vaunted Greek god. Pan's antics and insights get the kids both into and out of trouble.Our three teen protagonists meet at a History Camp where everything and everybody must act like it is 14th-century Verona, Italy. Society’s plan is to put trouble-making kids into situations where they are “scared straight”. But Hansum knows better. He’s aware that behind the scenes there are armies of humans and A.I.’s making sure they are safe. Using Pan, the teens devise a plan to drive the History Camp enactors crazy, and they succeed. But what they’re not prepared for is that a History Camp elder from the 31st century, (where time-travel is possible) kidnaps them back to the real medieval Verona. Here they are indentured to an alcoholic lens maker. Now, unquestionably, the dangers are real.All of this is hardly the ideal environment to fall in love – but, for Hansum, that’s exactly what happens. Guilietta is the beautiful daughter of the master the teens are working for. She becomes the star-crossed and time-crossed lover of our story’s Romeo - Hansum. In fact, the novel is peppered with lots of fun allusions to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In an attempt to survive the teenage trio, with Pan’s help, risks introducing technology from the future. It could save them – or it could change history.Source: Info in the About The Lens and the Looker was taken from the press release for the virtual book tour.
The Bronze and the Brimstone by Lory Kaufman
Book 2 of The Verona Trilogy
About The Bronze and the Brimstone:
What could go wrong in the 14th-century for three time-traveling teens? How about – EVERYTHING!Source: Info in the About The Bronze and the Brimstone was taken from the press release for the virtual book tour.
Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln, three teens from the 24th century, are trapped in 14th-century Verona, Italy. They’ve survived many deadly experiences by keeping their wits about them and by introducing futuristic technology into the past. Principal among these inventions is the telescope, which brought them to the attention of the rich and powerful.
But standing out can get you into unexpected and dangerous situations. The nobles of Verona now believe Hansum is a savant, a genius inventor, especially after he brings them plans for advanced cannons and black powder. Being the center of attention is great, but the potential for trouble is now exponentially greater because people are watching Hansum’s every move.
Meanwhile, artistic genius Shamira has fallen for a Florentine artist with bloody and disastrous consequences. Lincoln, considered an incompetent back home in the 24th-century, has blossomed – at least until he’s shot in the head with an arrow. And Hansum, after secretly marrying his new master’s beautiful daughter, Guilietta, is offered the hand in marriage of lady Beatrice, daughter of the ruler of Verona. To refuse could mean calamity for all the teens.
Amazingly, none of this is their biggest challenge. Because a rash illness is spreading across Verona – and it is threatening to consume everyone.
Do they have a future in this past?