Sarah Katz Biography
How did you get into writing?
Just as I have been an avid reader for as long as I can recall, I have been writing ever since I could hold pen to paper…and then I learned to type. My first novel, a historical fiction called “The Messenger from the Mountain”, was inspired by a trip to the Mediterranean and a general passion for magical realism. My science fiction debut novel, “Apex Five”, was born from firsthand experience involving the Israel-Palestine conflict and appreciation for Native American suffering combined with a love for technology after working in cyber security in the Silicon Valley.
“Apex Five, Book One of ‘The Plane’ series”
How did you come up with the title?
A fantastic question! Apex signifies the highest peak of something. This novel examines both the extent to which ruling powers can rise as well as the degree to which technology can advance. The number five reflects the five megaliths worshipped by the nations of this world.
Plot and Synopsis
For millennia, the people of the Plane have worshipped five megaliths as relics of the mysterious Zaam. In recent years, the nation of Tabira has employed remarkably advanced technology to subjugate the entire Plane and eradicate all belief in the Zaam. Now, the three remaining nations must uncover the secret behind Tabira’s sudden forward leap in civilization. At the forefront, a doctor, three intelligence officers and a former freedom fighter embark on their respective journeys to restore a balance of power to the Plane.
“Apex Five” combines the age-old concept of political strife with the promise of enigmatic futurism. Amidst the conquest and assimilation of the Opal nation by Tabira, the nations of Lir and Garo continue their decades-long struggle over a shared desert territory. Meanwhile Tabira, whose leaders have relinquished and now outlaw religion, has unleashed a deadly pathogen on the rainforest nation of Ayam in order to intimidate the natives into giving up their faith and accepting the only true power: technology.
Inspired by real-world religions, including Hinduism and the Abrahamic faiths, “Apex Five” explores the anthropology behind atheism as well as theism. In their endeavor to protect and advance their respective nations, the characters develop unexpected alliances and often find themselves questioning the very doctrines with which they were raised. At the crux, the story analyzes at what point remarkable technological achievement replaces the drive to worship a higher power. Moreover, with such technology at a society’s disposal, what are the limits thereafter?
What would you compare it to in terms of either movies or shows?
Analogy to other popular sci-fi/fantasy franchises: Perhaps “Star Trek: DS9” meets “Game of Thrones” with a dash of Marvel.
Themes or Messages
What themes and deeper meanings or messages can we expect to find in this book, if any? Is there any deep meanings or philosophical questions being explored in the book?
The main themes are moral dilemmas of advanced technology and how morality itself is never black or white. Every villain has a backstory and every hero has a hidden skeleton.
Off the wall question, but would some of the issues being explored in the book relate to us here in the real world?
The two major comparable themes would be the genocide of Native Americans/Australian Aboriginals and the issues of occupation/terrorism in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
What can you tell us about the setting of Apex 5?
“Apex Five” takes place in a world called The Plane and centers around ten main characters, each hailing from the different nations of Tabira, Lir, Garo and Ayam, all of whom spent millennia believing in mysterious deities called the Zaam.
The visual representation of the Zaam has grown scarce until presently, the only depiction seen in temples is an androgynous mother figure by the name of Echil. Echil is one of the only common terms still shared by the now mutually unintelligible national languages of the Plane.
Tabira has reached the age of automobiles and computers, as have Lir and Garo, to a lesser extent. Tabira has a mind for conquest and employs a brutal police/military force called the Kano. Although many Lirians lived among them for centuries, the previous Mak of Tabira carried out a genocidal Cleansing of the Lirian quarter, after which many Lirians fled for their ancestral homeland in the desert bordering Garo.
Meanwhile, Ayam remains largely un-industrialized, the locals still living in tree dwellings in their rainforest environment.
When the plot begins, Tabira has initiated a mission to compel the Ayam natives to relinquish belief in the Zaam. The Ayam are the second nation Tabira has aimed to conquer, following the Opal who had initially encroached on both Lir and Garo territory before being defeated by the Tabir. Before the Opal were absorbed into Garo, there were five nations altogether – five for each of the five megaliths of the Plane.
Nasin is a Lasha, an individual with a unique genetic mutation granting them enhanced physical strength, healing ability and the capacity to survive with no food for weeks, so long as they have access to water. Additionally, the Lasha switch gender(sex) every seven weeks. As only one Lasha is born per each generation, the most recent Lasha Avithia is a pupil of Nasin.
Although most of Lir has voluntarily abandoned faith in the face of technology, those who remain religious worship the Zaam through the symbol of water, both out of respect for the Lasha and as tribute to the value of water for a desert-dwelling society. Avithia, Nasin’s ward, is also a Lasha. Once Nasin discovers that the Tabir government has been harboring Rohem, a child with mysterious thermokinetic abilities, she takes him in as her ward and pupil. Rohem joins Avithia as a fellow ward in Lir, along with Oria, daughter of the Lirian priesthood who lost her parents during the Tabir Cleansing and now strives to balance her duty to Lir’s faithful sect and her responsibility as an intelligence officer under Nasin. Oria represents the both the regular (non-gifted) people of Lir.
Eta’s younger sister, Vata, oversees Tabir presence on the Ayam islands. She is a harsh woman living with her son, Ara, and daughter, Inad, Tabir children raised among the Ayam. At the time of the story, one of the children will be selected as life companion by the stoic Ayam Chief Telo. While Ara remains relentlessly faithful to his mother and constantly seeks her approval, Inad clashes with Vata and questions the purpose behind Tabira afflicting the natives with the deadly pathogen simply for the sake of religion.
While religious Lirians worship water, the majority of Garo worship fire. Streamlined by the Evaporation, a squad of freedom fighters who resist what its leaders deem as the Lirian occupation, the Garo nation sees fire as the ultimate gift from the Zaam and the strongest source of opposition to the Lirian invaders. The story follows Garo politicians, Governor Par and Treasurer Belim, as well as Evaporation leader, Kel, who conceals his affinity for men, as his people perceive homosexuality as a deep transgression punishable by death.
For more about Apex Five or Sarah Katz please visit the following websites.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorsarahkatz/
How to buy
While the Amazon link is posted above, the paperback version is available at: https://www.steppingstonespub.com/shop/apex-five-paperback
Please nominate another author you really like and has not yet reached mainstream and a small paragraph about why you believe this author is someone to really look into.
Eric Borgerson astonishes with his legal science fiction novel, “When the Eye Sees Itself”. Not only are the characters described in a relatable manner, the brilliant worldbuilding expertly weaves a plethora of technology behind which the science is explained. Borgerson utilizes his own expertise in law and politics to craft a compelling story that engages readers into the understandably tumultuous environment wrought by the longstanding rift of classism.