Regina Shen: Resilience (Book 1)
Regina Shen is an outcast forced to fend for herself in a world that bans books and artifacts from before the Great Collapse. An approaching storm could be the least of her problems. The World Federation condemns Regina and her family to live on the seaward side of barrier walls. Those walls were built to hold back rising seas caused by abrupt climate change and as a place to dump outcasts.
A hurricane threatens to destroy Regina’s world, tearing her from sister, mom, and home. Now Federation agents claim she has unique DNA that could prevent human extinction. It's too bad she doesn't trust them enough to barter fairly, let alone with her life. Three-hundred-plus-year-old Grand Old Dames rule the all-female Federation using a rigid caste system. Their notorious Department of Antiquities, under the command of Chief Inspector Joanne Demarco, polices barrier walls, destroys knowledge from the past to suppress dissent, and pursues Regina for her genome.
Regina survives by her wits on swampy islands and thrives on salvage from sunken cities, including illegal print books from before the Federation. With her photographic (eidetic) memory, she defies Antiquities by consuming salvaged books not available in the Federation, which makes her an outcast even among her exiled peers. With Antiquities in pursuit, Regina fights to stay alive and avoid capture while hunting for her family. Does she have the resilience to survive both the storm and Antiquities?
Regina Shen: Vigilance (Book 2)
After two years of training, outcast Regina Shen prepares to jump the barrier wall into the World Federation to hunt for her sister, but nothing goes according to plan. The Federation condemns Regina and her family to live on the seaward side of barrier walls.
For two years she avoided capture. Now the Federation is desperate to exploit her unique DNA in order to prevent human extinction. She would rather die than help the people who kidnapped her sister. The Federation’s notorious Department of Antiquities, under the command of Chief Inspector Joanne Demarco, polices barrier walls, destroys knowledge from the past, and pursues Regina for her genome. Now Demarco has a ruthless rival who aims to capture Regina as a means to overthrow Demarco.
Regina has survived by her wits on swampy islands and salvage from sunken cities, including illegal print books not available in the Federation. Her photographic (eidetic) memory, access to these books, and an amazing teacher just may help her reach the university town in the Federation where they’re holding her sister. Pursued by Antiquities, Regina jumps the wall into the Federation.
While making new friends and enemies, she must use her wits to avoid letting either of two rival inspectors capture her. Can she rescue her sister from an obvious trap?
Regina Shen: Defiance (Book 3)
On the run, outcast Regina Shen is determined to stop the Federation’s relentless attacks on her family and friends, but the stakes are much higher now and she is deep in foreign and hostile territory.
The Federation condemned Regina to live on the seaward side of barrier walls, but she crossed into the Federation where she continues to survive by her wits. Competing Federation agents vie to capture her and use her to acquire power, based on her genome being the key to prevent human extinction. When her sister is kidnapped again and agents close in, Regina flees west with a friend across deserts created by abrupt climate change.
Raised on swampy islands and underwater salvage, they must adapt to different harsh environments. Guided by her photographic (eidetic) memory of illegal print books from before the Federation, Regina is determined to defy the Federation and find a treasure big enough to barter for freedom for her and her sister. In the cat-and-mouse game, can she find allies and ways to escape the Federation dragnet long enough to discover something to trade?
Regina Shen: Endurance (book 4):
Betrayed by her own mother, outcast Regina Shen has been trying to free her sister. Instead, she becomes a pawn in the World Federation’s struggle for power and succession.
Worldwide fertility has collapsed and the World Premier is dying, leading to a crisis of leadership. Battle lines are forming and Regina holds the keys to resolving the fertility crisis with her genome and elevating whoever can capture and control her into positions of power. Using her photographic (eidetic) memory of illegal books, she also holds the key to locating ancient artifacts that could save or destroy the Federation. In holding these keys, Regina should be treated as a queen, but outcasts aren’t even allowed to become citizens.
Having survived the swamps, deserts, and wilderness, Regina continues to try to barter for freedom for her and her sister, but the stakes are too high. Federation agents hound Regina to uncover ancient artifacts and serve herself up as a lab specimen to prevent human extinction. The disgraced Inspector Joanne Demarco pretends to be Regina’s ally to get her to deliver the location of ancient DNA vaults that could change the balance of power. Meanwhile, ruthless rivals are willing to do anything to destroy Demarco and control Regina.
Regina’s new journey will test her endurance, her ability to recognize opportunities, and her knack for avoiding capture. She will also face a tragedy and a strange twist of destiny that will shake her to her core and get her to question everything. Will she be able to overcome adversity or will she descend down an even more dangerous path?
About the Author
He was raised by a roaming aerospace engineer, growing up in various parts of the United States and Europe, as well as traveling through Asia. He took to stories as his anchor, including the works of Asimov, Bradbury, and Heinlein, and has been writing since age eleven.
Growing up, he was inspired by his father’s engineering work on cutting-edge aerospace projects to look to the future.
In an ideal world, Lance would find time loops where he could step out for a week at a time to read and write. Then he would return to the moment he left, without life getting in the way. Of course, since everyone would have the same ability, he suspects life would still sneak in.
Lance is also the author of short stories and novelettes.
How did you come up with the title for the Regina Shen series?
The title meandered in several directions before we arrived at what you see. Regina Shen is a Marginal swamp rat, an outcast to the Federation. She lives in a world after abrupt climate change and rising seas have flooded the coasts. There’s a caste system in which Marginals are below the bottom. As an outcast, she’s forced to live on the seaward side of great barrier walls. Thus, one working title was Marginal Swamp Rat. There was also an affinity for the allusion to Atlantis because of the sunken cities that Regina salvages. The working title changed to The Atlantis Effect. When it came time to finalize titles, we did some polling and realized several things. Marginal carries emotional value but is vague. Rat didn’t convey the right image for Regina, who is both cursed to be a Marginal, and proud to be one. There are many stories with variations of Atlantis in the title. Since the lost continent of Atlantis and the submerged worlds were not the core of this series, we didn’t want to confuse potential readers. While Regina Shen is not a household name, we decided that since this is her story, we would be bold and give her the title.
Why do you enjoy writing in a dystopian world?
What intrigues me about the dystopian world is to figure out how to solve problems brought on by losing things we take for granted, like electricity, running water, or a stable government. If history teaches us anything, it’s that we don’t march in a straight line toward a ‘better’ world, whatever that might be. In the real world, we face hiccups and setbacks, and that’s what dystopian stories allow us to explore. Those setbacks create character.
Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
Regina Shen has grown up on the outside, at the bottom of the official caste system. Yet, her tough upbringing gave her strength to endure what she must to survive, help family, and achieve her goals. Giving up isn’t an option for her. She’s resilient, vigilant, and defiant in protection of what matters to her: family and friends. She also demonstrates endurance and thus the titles of the four books.
How much of the book is realistic?
While I hope we can avoid the calamity of rising seas and economic collapse, there are those who would suppress knowledge of the past and knowledge they don’t approve of to suit their aims. We may not have an official caste system, but at times in our history moving up has been difficult for many. The places in the story match names on our maps, but have changed in ways to be unrecognizable. In addition, I’ve taken liberties for the sake of creating an interesting story. Thus, I believe the conflicts, emotions, and struggles are real, but this is a futuristic, some might say fantasy world.