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50 Secrets, Insights & Behind The Scenes Nuggets In “Underground Movement”, “Xanadu” & “The Last Hurrah”

Hello, friends and fans!

This is a list of fifty insights into the three new books of the Quantum Series, now available on Amazon! If you were wondering, I didn’t write these in simple single-layer story terms, there are layers to the overall story – and as you will see, quite a lot of planning went into the staging of various scenes and the creation and interpretation of the characters and situations!

  1. Raul D’espise – the guy riding the red-horned wildebeest past the Inn of the Lame Duck in the opening of “Underground Movement” is an omage to Paul Revere, the American patriot who rode to warn revolutionaries of the arrival of the British during their Revolutionary War. Raul however represents the opposite, he is a soldier in the fascist army riding to warn his superiors that “the vampires are coming”. This cameo is brought to the reader by means of Time Agent Johnathan Scrooby, who is reviewing events using his time Projector.
  1. The attack leading to Raul D’espise’s cameo in the beginning of “Underground Movement” actually takes place at the end of the book.
  1. The clientele at the Inn of the Lame Duck mentioned in “Underground Movement” are inspired by the South African and Australian farming communities who are generally tough, stoic and practical. One or two of the characters were inspired by a co-worker who grew up on a farm in South Africa.
  1. At the start of the scene inside the Inn of the Lame Duck (“Underground Movement“) the well-built old man and the guy wearing the cowboy hat who mysteriously disappear are Sarge (Phillip Andersen) and Gary Beck using his Remote time travel tool. What’s implied here is that this is where Gary found Sarge and recruited him for the cause of establishing the Militia.
  1. The Deannan Service League (DSL) and its armed wing, the Deannan Republican Army (DRA) are euphemisms for America’s ultra right-wing Christian extremist Republican party.


  1. A lot of the secretive vampire underground culture portrayed in these books is based on my personal experience with the online and offline vampire community (VC) and subculture. Many of the vampire characteristics displayed by the vampire characters are taken from self-identifying real vampires, blended with some of the obligatory characteristics of fictional vampires. The real variety of self-identifying vampires tend to forms small groups and collectives, and they love ceremony and ritual, and they have more than a few councils between them. Melissa Scarr, head of the vampire council, is inspired by several leaders I knew in the online real vampire community, such as MadameX and LadyCG, and in part by the ubiquitous Merticus, who also inspired the paternal character of Uncle Vernon. The term “night kind” is also used in some places in the real VC.
  1. Unlike C.N.N. and Fox News, D.N.N. or Deannan News Network is a neutral tool, a euphemism for the Press in the hands of whatever authority controls it. Under the Terran governor, D.N.N. reflects educational and fair news representation; after the fascists take over, it reflects religious indoctrination and biased news and propaganda.
  1. The Reformed Puritan Church (R.P.C.) is a deliberate caricature of conservative puritanical Christendom. They’re intended to be overly staunch, Christianist and extreme. It is the R.P.C. which is being used by the fascists to legitimize themselves and their actions on Deanna. They are a satirical take on the religious right, a parody.
  1. John Conway, the D.S.L.’s new Chief of Police who supplanted Sheriff Peggy-Ann Muller, is a polar opposite of her in several ways. She’s open-minded and easy going, he’s misogynistic and racist. Just about the only things they have in common is that they both were in law enforcement, and the job of running law enforcement in Atro City gives both of them headaches.
  1. Chancellor James Eregut McMillen is a composite of many villains, a scrawny, pompous, arrogant rat-faced know-it-all who looks down at everyone, even his own colleagues in the fascist revolutionary movement. Although he’s an educated man, he presents a paradox because education breeds a liberal and compassionate disposition; even though he’s educated and considers himself an intellectual and thinks he’s smarter than everyone else around him, he’s self-absorbed, narcissistic and consumed with self-interest. I wrote him this way because he reminds me of most conservative leaders, and it creates wonderful opportunities for satire because it’s really funny when they come undone.
  1. The middle name of Professor/Chancellor McMillen – “Eregut” is pronounced “Error-gut”. It sounds pompous and grandiose – and it sort of suits the character, given his fate. I also made it up.
  1. Jim-waians in the context of this story arc are a euphemism in the modern context in terms of current affairs, for people of color. Their struggles under the rule of the fascists equate to the struggles of people of color on Earth in our time. While the D.S.L. consists of Humans of every race – their views of racial purity are restricted to the whole of Humanity, and their goals of purification are to keep the Human race pure from alien interaction – which they view as contamination. In the text of the story, I generally do not describe race because I’d like the reader to fill in the blanks in that regard. People tend to imagine characters – whether villains or heroes – as their own race, and to me this can have a profound effect on how they perceive the story. Likewise, the Jim-waians are aliens with gray skin tones, and are unlike any of the Human race, meaning what they have in common with victims of racism lies beyond the physical, which is I feel, the important point.
  1. The culture of the Jim-waians is loosely inspired by Arabic culture and the narrowmindedness of the Jim-waians on their home world – which is run by religious fanatics, is based on the religious fundamentalist extremism of Islamists. The Jim-waians who live on Deanna are refugees who escaped the reach of their oppressive regime. Unfortunately, they now find themselves facing more oppression and ultimately eradication under the fascists.
  1. The symptoms of a panic attack, as experienced by the character of Albrecht during the story arc, were the result of consultation with my wife Wendy, who is a PTSD sufferer. She was able to give me enough insight to make this aspect of the story more realistic and believable.
  1. The character of Colonel Michael Francis is a villain responsible for engineering the D.S.L.’s answer to the Nazi’s “Final Solution”. He takes the original model and works out how to improve its effectiveness and efficiency. Consequently he had to be portrayed as a psychopath, devoid of conscience or compassion. He is consumed with pride in the devilish system he has wrought, regardless of the suffering and misery it causes. He is detached from human emotions like compassion or pity or guilt or regret.


 

  1. Like the Nazis – and many modern right wing nationalist or identity movements today – the D.S.L. is vehemently homophobic and transphobic. The reason for this is, because in their view, being gay or transgender interferes with the biological function of procreation and multiplication of the population in service of their cause. Because their ideal image of manhood and womanhood are rooted in misogynistic and binary gender roles, anything which blurs this understanding is portrayed as a threat that must be destroyed. While in general the motivation and justification for this feeling is based in religion, this is not always the case.
  1. The character of Ramsley Valcovar, the R.P.C. reverend, is meant to be a counterpoint to the overwhelmingly conservative note of all other clergymen of the R.P.C. being portrayed. Unlike his peers who are appearing on TV talk shows throwing their voices (and that of God) behind the new fascist government and driving wedges between diverse people, Ramsley is sheltering refugees in the basement of his church and placing himself at immense personal risk. This seems to serve to demonstrate the truth that not all birds of a feather flock together, that while an organization or identity group my be corrupt or malicious, not everyone within it is necessarily the same. The counterpoint to Valcovar is Sister Purity, the nun who is a snitch, a brown-nose looking to ingratiate herself with the masters of the new regime by informing on her peers to the fascists. Another counterpoint to Purity is Sister Trivia.
  1. The characterizations of soldiers I used – on both sides – are loosely based on the multitude of people I knew during my years working in the army. Some aspects are completely made up – for example, I’ve never known a sergeant (or any NCO) to walk around chewing on an actual cigar butt – but I’ve known a few for whom that would not be out of character. I have however, known at least one General who reminded me of General Smythe. The question of whether or not a sergeant-major bounces when he barks, is one I made up.
  1. The character of Danielle Grauffis, the young transgender girl who ends up caught by the fascists and incarcerated at Xanadu to await her death, symbolically represents all the transgender victims of the fascists on Deanna. There are of course, numerous other “undesirables” present in the body of inmates at Xanadu, including LGBT+ and others.
  1. The symbolism in the various adverts, propaganda and TV inserts on D.N.N. were inspired by Nazi propaganda and propaganda films like “Triumph of the Will” and other period works of Leni Riefenstahl. The various scenes where the heroes sit and watch “Fascist TV” are constructed to show the sort of social engineering material the general population of Deanna are being exposed to, and the subtle ways that the fascists work to change the thinking of the public to align with their own. Towards the end, the characters find the material to be unwatchable, irritating, shocking and beyond offensive.
  1. The “Birds Aren’t Real” movement (a satirical fake conspiracy theory designed to mock conspiracy theories) organized by Peter McIndoe seemed like a good way to focus on the absurdity prevalent within modern conservatism, which also often builds realities around shaky beliefs without relying on evidence, while rejecting science and rational thought as a sort of conspiracy to do harm. The character of Jake McIndow is an omage to the creator of the original satire, and the TV guest character Robert Rachelson is a hat-tip to the journalist Rachel Roberts. Peter Price is a reference to Eugene Price, the fake character created and interviewed by Peter McIndoe.
  1. The “MDGA” stenciled across the cap worn by one of the TV interview guests in “Xanadu” stands for “Make Deanna Great Again”, obviously – and with the same negative connotations as the original.
  1. In the “birds aren’t real” skit in “Xanadu” it was actually quite easy for the characters to point out just why these birds weren’t real, because it was so difficult in the beginning of the series for me to explain why they were!
  1. Job Frey McGoughan and his wife Jemima represent the ordinary everyday type of citizen who are susceptible to propaganda and conspiracy theories. More so Frey, while his wife tends to suffer the consequences of his resulting shenanigans and paranoia.
  1. Calling the fascists warships “Angels” was a decision based in the fascists alignment with fundamentalist extremist Christianity. It seemed appropriate.
  1. Doktor Gleichstein, being a German-speaking quantum physicist seemed like an ideal choice to make a fervent ant-Nazi who would create a ‘wunderwaffen’ to defeat the villains.
  1. The sequence of parade in “Xanadu” at the welcoming ceremony for the Space Navy’s three new warships is based on an actual flag-raising parade of the South African Army. The shenanigans of the Resistance that turn the parade into a complete farce represent the odd sort of ideas that ran through my head while still a soldier participating in these sort of parades. Honestly, with the sort of things that run around in my head, it’s amazing I didn’t get into more trouble.

  1. Xanadu, the concentration camp, is a cut-down representation of the stereotypical WW2 Nazi concentration camp. It was a complex process to write scenes around this camp considering the sensitivity relating to the social and historical significance of those camps without accidentally being disrespectful. Consequently, the scenes involving Xanadu are restricted to serious moments that concentrate on the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity by the fascists, the suffering of the victims, and the eventual fall of the camp garrison.
  1. The scene where Danielle speaks for the survivors of Xanadu when they surround Colonel Michael Francis, was the very first scene I wrote for the manuscript that later became “Xanadu“, more than seven years before the story was completed.
  1. Much of the military outlook and routine processes was inspired by my own experience and time in the South African Army.
  1. The character of Mark Grauffis, the alien who volunteers to serve in the Militia, in part represents the drive of the volunteer to “make it happen”. In “Xanadu” he has a melt-down where he goes to kill a prisoner because he’s angry at what he’d seen at the concentration camp, and the state that his friend Danielle was in when he found her. The anger he felt at that moment is what I expected the anger of everyone touched by those sort of circumstances to be.
  1. This is the future! Medical technology has advanced to the point where limbs lost in battle can be regrown within the space of a few weeks.


 

  1. General Smythe is for me very much the voice of the Human conscience. He makes the speeches, he understands the consequences of the Militia’s collective actions – and sees the gameboard from the opposite side as well. I tried to portray him as a mensch while also incorporating traits of classic generals like Monty and Rommel, and tempering that with the approach of an ordinary everyday neighbor.
  1. The damaged Celeste being taken fifteen years back in time (“Xanadu“) by Gary and Mei to be repaired in Atro City of the past was an opportunity for me to bring some fun into the story, where the company of the Celeste was able to have a short break from the war and its unpleasantness – guilt-free because they would return back to their own time exactly at the moment they’d left. It also gave me the opportunity to look at the past selves of some of the characters we already know, such as to explain how Albrecht got his Italian accent.
  1. In “Xanadu“, when the damaged Celeste goes back in time to be repaired, I explore the way some people profit no matter who is in charge in times of war. When they first arrive, the foreman of the dry dock repair crew is dressed like the rest of his workers; at the end of the book, he’s dressed like the rest of his workers, but much cleaner – which implies he doesn’t actually get his hands dirty. By the time we see him again in “The Last Hurrah” having completed the conversion of twenty loderunners into gunships for the fascists, he’s wearing a shiny suit.
  1. Scrooby’s disappearance was something of a surprise to me as well. I mean, I only write these stories – it’s not as if I’m the one in control! However, his disappearance (which still remains unexplained) solved certain dilemmas I had while writing “Xanadu“, so I went ahead with it. Where is Scrooby? You’ll have to wait for book 10 to find out!
  1. Yes, I know that Napoleon never actually started digging a tunnel to invade England. But what if he did?
  1. In the D.N.N. segment about vampires, I referred to another conspiracy theory – that of adrenochrome harvesting, and gave a tip of the hat to the two researchers who named “hidden virality”, Britt Parris and Joan Donovan simply by naming the two researchers in the segment Britt Donovan and Joan Parris. Reverend Sean Birmingham is a reference to Sean Manchester, the main peanut in the “Highgate Vampire” fiasco of late 20th century London, and of course, in the story it was the Wickering Vampire.
  1. There are many retired NCOs and Warrant Officers among the Militia’s volunteers who outrank Master Sergeant Andersen, yet he is appointed to a leadership role within the Militia as the most senior NCO/WO due to his extensive experience and training – and also his energetic persona and ability to command.

  1. For me, props like the loderunner Celeste and the Ambusulance represent the value of the old still contributing usefully to society in spite of the existence of the new. Both are old tech, they’ve been essentially discarded or written off, but both prove everyone wrong by more than rising to the challenges presented. Similarly so too do the characters of the Militia who are retired, finished with society and basically owe it nothing – yet they have volunteered their remaining time to save Deanna from their younger counterparts who are intent on subjugation and the destruction of all that Deanna stands for. This highlights the experience and the wisdom of the old, versus the brashness, inexperience and arrogance of youth.
  1. The low-level gangster Giggling Harry represents the goodness in all people, that although the man operates on the seedy side of life, breaking low-end laws perhaps, he still has a heart and has a capacity and willingness to do good things. He shelters his Jim-waian and LGBT+ workers and anyone in need of sanctuary, at great personal risk. Perhaps in a contradiction to Reverend Valcovar, who is a clergyman held in high social esteem who is actually doing what’s expected of him, whereas Giggling Harry is viewed as a low-life doing more than is expected of him.
  1. In “Xanadu” the new government has its followers chasing and eliminating birds, and in “The Last Hurrah”, they have them destroying pot plants – all to distract them from the real goings-on in the world at the time, although the latter is actually meant to narrow the field in their search for Fred the Arborian. There is also a difference – the former was a deliberate distraction to keep the population distracted, the latter came about unintentionally as the Chancellor was already losing his grip.
  1. Although I like to use funny character names in my stories, and make a lot of them up, Peanisbreath is a real, actual surname and I can’t take credit for that. Look it up. It’s from Australia.
  1. In “The Last Hurrah” the sound effects I used for the destruction of the fascist space navy ships (i.e. ga-schklurtz) were an omage to Al Jaffee, the cartoonist from Mad Magazine who died while I was writing these three books, at the age of 102.
  1. The character of Victoria Somers, a.k.a. “Vic”, was inspired by the 80’s TV series hero, MacGuyver, who was able to do anything with not very much at hand. That’s very much Vic’s role as a member of the Celeste’s crew. In “The Last Hurrah” she builds a bomb at short notice using the timer of the microwave oven in the Celeste’s kitchen, and goodness knows what else.

  1. In “The Last Hurrah”, Chancellor McMillen’s decision to call down hellfire from the orbiting Angel One to utterly destroy Atro City was based on Adolf Hitler’s extinction directive which meant that “all true Germans” would perish with the fall of the Third Reich. Neither Hitler, nor his counterpart McMillen, were completely sane by this stage, and in fact, McMillen steadily loses his marbles the more things go wrong for the fascists.
  1. In “The Last Hurrah”, when McMillen loses his shit and begins to utter the word “Fuuuuuuck” and sounds like a deranged chicken, this is inspired from real life in fact. Although I will not say who.
  1. The quantum energy bubble that separates Deanna and its system from the rest of the universe was borne out of a need to make the fascists untouchable by the might and authority of the Terran Empire, whose government they have overthrown on Deanna. It was a way to prevent their armed forces from intervening in any way.
  1. The reward for the fascists at the end of the war, in “The Last Hurrah” was the most chilling and horrific – and appropriate ending I could devise.
  1. General Smythe’s speech at the end of “The Last Hurrah” was virtually verbatim, an activism article I wrote in 2009 about LGBT+ persecution for my activist blog “Sour Grapes: The Fruit Of Ignorance”.

The overall storyline of this arc, starting with “Prodigal Sun”, through “High Steaks” and these three new titles is an allegory for what’s been happening around the world since after the commemoration of the Holocaust after WW2: racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia are rampant, with those espousing these dark aspects to human existence demonstrating their affiliation with right wing, neo-Nazism and fascism.

Here’s the biggest insight of all: I wrote it as a warning to all. To the likely victims of such events, a warning that they are being plotted and schemed and worked against by those desiring their destruction; to the would-be perpetrators: regardless of how powerful they become, or how successful they think they’ll be, there will always be a time of reckoning.

Lastly, yes, I laughed a lot while writing this story. I cried a lot too.

I truly hope you enjoy reading these books – for me they represent a life’s work, an epic tale, a work of art. Not that I’m tooting my own horn or anything!

Further reading:

Remember:

Thanks a lot for all your friendship and support, I hope you know it is all deeply appreciated. Keep reading!

Cheers!


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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2023.

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