Everyone else is a demigod, or an elder being or just a straight up wizard, but all I have is computer science. Well, computer science and materials science and the dead body of a magical creature that lets me reverse engineer how magic works. I have a dog, too. She’s the absolute best dog ever, and if you don’t agree she might eat your soul. And let’s not forget the sentient magical gun that I built. Okay, maybe I have quite a bit.
But I’m still a nerd.
Follow Lincoln, his loyal dog Babd, and his magical AI gun Fox as they fight bad guys (and gals), go on weird trips to other planes of existence, and maybe learn something about themselves along the way. It’s like an after-school special with monsters, violence, magic and engineering. And love, just a little. Le sigh.
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Warnings: language, violence and sexual situations
Q&A with the Author
Where did you first get the idea for the main characters?
I found myself wondering what Doctor Who would look like if you stripped it down to the studs, changed the essentially “English” things into “American”, then rebuilt. It evolved from that initial thought, but you can still see it. Instead of a sonic screwdriver, you get a magical gun. It’s multi-use, but sometimes you just need to shoot things, you know? And the companions -- well, American pioneers were loners. They had their family, or maybe just the dog. So Lincoln gets a dog.
People really care about their magic systems. What makes this one worth a reader’s time?
In the LFBD series, magic has an actual physics. I’ve charted the kinds of force it can generate, how it dissipates, etc., and then thought about how that could be applied most effectively in the real world. I tried really hard to keep it consistent, and specifically asked beta readers to keep me honest about it. If you can magically teleport a small item, why can’t that small item be 1cc of someone’s brain matter?
What inspired the dog themes?
If you think about the percentage of characters in books that have pets, and beyond that, actual emotional connections with them, versus the percentage of people you actually know that have that -- I think it’s a missed opportunity in fiction. Having a social animal in your life like a dog really changes you. It weaves its way into the fabric of who you are. I wanted to showcase that, and I’m glad that I did. Almost everyone who has given me personal feedback about the LFBD series tells me that Babd is easily their favorite character, and that they love the relationship between her and Lincoln.
This book blends fantasy, science fiction, and horror elements in an urban setting. How do you keep it from losing focus?
Different characters in LFBD are participating in different genres of fiction. For some, this is an adventure story, and their experience reflects it. Others who are involved in the same events are experiencing a horror story. I was very deliberate about how that affected their outcomes, and the language that I used in different parts of the book. I think that it creates a world where anything can happen, so the reader never quite knows what’s coming, but because the different genres are represented consistently, when we switch gears it feels earned instead of random.
Lincoln applies software engineering principles to magic, and is able to change the game with it. How well informed is the take on software?
I’ve been in software development for years, and work in machine learning at Google. The computer science stuff in LFBD is solid. I was a little worried that having actual code in the book would be too much, but some readers really enjoyed seeing CS 101 show up. The AI stuff... it’s magic so we’re just going to have to handwave that. At least I used correct terminology!
I want a Babd. Where can I get one?
You cannot. There is only one Babd, and she’s not for sale.
D. Roland Hess has written five technical/arts books, one of which won the American Publishers Association PROSE Award for Best Book in Art Technique in 2011. "Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog" marks his return to genre fiction after a long hiatus. He honed his craft in the Creative Writing program at UPenn, but gave up the potential glory of starving-artistdom for a career in production art and software development. He currently works as the "Head of Alchemy" at Google, Inc.