You know those home movie nights when it’s your partner’s turn to choose, and in the end you get hooked? Well, Ben Brown’s sci-fi book, Enhanced, drew me in, right down to wanting to find out what the R rating was for, ha ha.
I have a soft spot for science fiction, and treasure memories of my father taking me to the local library on a Saturday morning when I was young. I’d choose books by Enid Blyton, Brothers Grimm and books about earth and space, you know, those ‘More, more, more, tell me why’ books for kids. My father would borrow a whole pile of science fiction, and pass on any particularly imaginative, appropriate stories to me. He still recommends quirky sci-fi, fantasy novels to me, and I ‘borrowed’ his copy of Neverwhere which began my love affair with Neil Gaiman.
Back to Enhanced! The more I read, the more I wanted to ask the hero, Zac, some questions. He’d been through a lot and as usual, I become concerned about nice-guy protagonists!
First to the story. Enhanced is the fast-paced, action packed tale of Zac, an ordinary man leading an ordinary life, until he learns he carries a rare genetic code that can be unlocked to make him superhuman. The catch is that the genius who can do this, Dr Skinner, didn’t get it right the first few times. One of the ‘rejects’ is Dr Skinner’s own son, Dominic, who is aiming for world domination, (as any powerful psychopath in his wrong mind would). Zac is recruited as the only subject powerful enough to match Dominic’s strength and put a stop to his evil plans. Zac is helped by the beautiful Lea, Dr Skinner and a team of crack soldiers to head out on a life and death world-wide chase. Convincingly explained scientific possibilities, Zac’s undying heroism and the relentless determination of evil men and women are credibly interwoven to make the reader keep wanting to turn the page. The ending has a well-crafted balance of closure and intrigue.
Whilst caught up in the adrenaline charged action, I jotted down some questions I’d been dying to ask Zac. Luckily Ben Brown was able to pass these along to Zac, who took time out of his busy superhuman schedule to answer them. (Then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less from Superman himself).
1. Hi Zac. Thanks for your time today. How have you found your superpowers useful apart from fighting evil?
Hi. My abilities? They come in useful in different sorts of ways. For instance, my added strength is useful when a particularly stubborn jam jar needs opening. My added speed is useful when I’m running late for the bus. But joking aside, there are some real advantages to being enhanced.
All subjects are empathic to one degree or another. In my case, I lean more towards full telepathy. Knowing exactly what people think and feel is a massive advantage to have. Knowing when a sales person is lying about how good you look in something, or knowing that you’re not getting the best deal possible at a car yard, is priceless.
2. What were you thinking when Vladimir attacked you the first time? I was biting my nails for you!
To be honest, after the pounding he gave me I can’t remember too much about what I first thought. I do remember a few seconds of feeling sorry for him though.
At first, I saw a man who’d been manipulated and crafted into a weapon, and that made me pity him. That pity changed to fear and pain with his first blow. Dominic was good at turning people into monsters, and that is what Vladimir had become … a monster.
3. Why do you like Lea?
Why wouldn’t anyone like her, she’s amazing. She’s kind, gentle, caring and brave, not only that, she’s beautiful. Both of us are enhanced, and when feelings develop between subjects they’re more intense than with normal couples. We feel each other’s love on a truly different level. When we’re close I can feel her heart beating, and I can feel what she’s feeling, it’s intense. I knew I loved her from the first second I saw her, and I will love her until the day I die.
4. It’s obvious how you’ve changed physically in the book. How do you think you’ve changed psychologically?
I’m not sure, I know I’m more patient and tolerant than I used to be. I know little things don’t worry me anymore, but are these changes because of my enhancements, or are they the result of what I’ve seen and done? I don’t think anyone could go through what my team and I have, and not be unchanged by it.
5. You travelled to a lot of different cities in the book. What was your favourite city and why?
New York, and why, because it’s New York! Ever since I was young, I wanted to see the Big Apple, and it never disappoints. We spend a lot of time there now, and I love every street, every smell and every sound. It truly is the city that never sleeps. It’s like living in the world’s longest running movie, and you’re one of the cast. Even now, after years of living there, I still get awestruck by the place.
6. What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt from your adventures?
Look after your friends. Stick by them, treasure them and always tell them how you feel about them. You never know when they’ll be gone.
7. Do you think Dominic, the evil antagonist, has sexual issues? If so, why?
I try not to think about Dominic’s sex life, it’s bad enough I have to think about everything else he’s done. Does he have sexual issues? Most likely.
(Hmmm, most likely indeed)
8. You’ve obviously considered the possibility of having children with Lea. Do you have any genetic concerns?
We’ve spoken to Doc about it and he says we should be fine. The chances of our kids being like us are apparently no greater than anyone else’s. However, he did say that if our kids had the code, then they would be on a whole different level to us. They would make Lea and I look like normal people.
9. Do you have a party trick?
You know the trick dads do, the one where they pretend to pull off their thumb and then put it back on again? I can do that for real. I’m also good at card tricks.
10. Any favourite movie quotes?
There are so many movies and so many great lines, it’s hard to pick just one. I tell you what, I’ll do a few quotes, and you see if you know which movies they’re from.
- “Well, all righty then,” and “Don’t mess with the do!”
- “That’s not a knife … this is a knife!”
- “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”
I could keep going for hours, but here’s my favourite.
- “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.” Ezekiel 25:17.
Thanks for answering my questions, Zac.
Competition alert!! I will send an ebook of Enhanced to the 10th person who emails me the correct answers to the above 4 quotes at firstname.lastname@example.org
For those who love high energy action sci-fi, check out Ben’s website at http://www.bensebooks.info/