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THE BODY ELECTRIC, Science Fiction -  J. David Liss

ComparablesThe Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter by Theodora Goss meets Blake Crouch’s Recursion

HookIt’s Mary Shelley vs. Thomas Edison for the fate of the world, and one scientist from the present has to decide whose side he’s on – because that side wins.

Pitch: 

21st Century scientist Lew Argent knows tragedy. His wife and son were electrocuted by a fallen power line. He would do anything to change what happened, but that is beyond anyone’s grasp, even a brilliant electrical engineer and physicist.

Lew is drawn to his scientific hero Thomas Edison – who electrocuted dozens of animals to show that Nikola Tesla’s alternating current was more dangerous than direct current. Edison was actually seeking the secret of restoring life, not ending it. Edison’s wife, Mary, was dying of a brain tumor and he would find a way to save her.


The answer may lie in St. Pancras graveyard in London, famous as the burial place of Mary Shelley.


Shelley, the greatest electrical scientist, may hold the answer for all of them – the equation for Galvanic Resurrection. Or she may be drawing them into a web that traps desperate, brilliant men from across the centuries. Frankenstein was not a novel, it was one of her lab notebooks. She will overturn reality itself to resurrect her husband, the poet Percy Shelley.

Argent and the others are fighting for their lives and their world in a battle that will require more than brilliance. They will unite with lovers Tesla and Walt Whitman as they travel the pathways love can take, what it can destroy, and ultimately, what it can create.

The Body Electric mixes science-fiction and classic literature to explore how people manage love and loss. It will appeal to readers who enjoy strong female antagonists and have a willingness to re-imagine the lives and loves of our greatest thinkers.

Short BioTrained in writing and inclined to politics, I became a speechwriter, then a lobbyist. In the past 35 years, I've  worked in corporate, academic, and healthcare centers and all my work has been touched by literature (I like to think). I’ve published 17 short stories in the last five years, including in “Caustic Frolic,” “The MacGuffin,” “Lake Effect,” “Blood and Thunder,” “Forge,” “Inscape,” and others.

 

500 Word Excerpt:

The Body Electric

J. David Liss

 

 

CHAPTER 1

Then

 

     This was going to work. 
     Topsy the elephant could barely stand, she was that sick, that old. She weighed 8,000 pounds. Edison thought about Mrs. Dropmeyer, the woman who owned the bakery in Milan, Ohio when he was growing up, and chuckled that he saw the similarity. Then he chastised himself because this was life and death and he shouldn’t have funny thoughts. And this led him to thinking about Mary. 
     This was going to work.

     The reporters had really turned out. The New York Times and The New York Herald, The Tribune, and his boy Andrew Johnson from Scientific American were waiting, pencils in hand, for him. He’d worked out with Johnson in advance the questions he wanted to be asked.
     “Mr. Edison, please, a word…” 

     “Mr. Edison, can you really use electricity on something that big…” 

     “Tom, a word please” (no one who knew him called him Tom). 

     He looked at Andrew Jordan and nodded ever so slightly.

     “Mr. Edison, can you describe what we are seeing?”

     “Certainly Mr. Jordan. First, welcome to Coney Island, the nation’s most colorful beach resort. Smell the salt, Gentlemen? The sea blows in and saltwater is an excellent conductor. However, we are using copper cables to… change Topsy’s status today from very bad elephant to very good one. Yes, this elephant is infamous, having killed two people and injured scores more. Note the cables that run to her head and chest. They are linked to that generator, which will produce 10,000 volts of electricity. I see Mr. Rawlins from the Herald is here. Sir, 10,000 volts is so strong it could even wake you up at 6:00 am after one of your infamous nights drinking at Delmonico’s.”

     While the audience of reporters chuckled, Edison thought, “good elephant, bad elephant. What does that even mean? I want her to live. They expect her to die. She will live. This was going to work.”

     He was working them up. He didn’t know what was going to happen, but he wanted the reporters to believe he knew exactly. If the elephant died, then he would warn them of the dangers of Alternating Current. But if Tesla were right, if AC was the gateway, then the elephant would be restored to her youth and health and be filled with life and energy. That would be a very different story to tell. A different story to tell Mary.

     “Gentlemen, soon you will see an elephant dance,” he said, knowing that it would either be the dance of life renewed, or shocking death. He just didn’t know which one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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