Fractured State coverBuilding the greater world surrounding THE FRACTURED STATE SERIES was a serious blast, but inventing the details of a near-future world was the proverbial “icing on the cake.” This is the kind of stuff I live for as a writer, and Fractured State was a fertile playground for these details. That said, it wasn’t easy.

Set 20 years in the future, I found myself walking a thin line between advancing technology far enough to create a “wow factor” and keeping it familiar enough to the reader. The last thing I wanted to do was create a new vocabulary for readers.

Here’s a fantastic example of that struggle, with a slightly disappointing ending. What do you call a cell phone/smart phone 20 years from now? The answer isn’t simple, or is it? I got a crazy idea during the developmental edit, based on a suggestion from my developmental editor (I blame David!), to replace every instance of smartphone with the term LINK. We’d discussed the technology upgrades evident in the manuscript and agreed that the device served as more of a communications link, but we couldn’t call it a COMLINK. That term had been coined by the Star Wars franchise years ago, and it didn’t sound right, anyway.

But what about LINK? That’s simple, catchy…hey, 20 years from now, people might be looking back at Fractured State and saying, Steven Konkoly used the term first, now everyone calls their phone a LINK. Communications companies will be paying me billions to license the term…it sounded fantastic, until it didn’t. Actually, it was my editor at Thomas and Mercer that essentially said something to the effect of, “I don’t know. It’s cool and all, but forcing readers to use the word LINK instead of phone throughout the story might get a little annoying.” Too kitschy, so I dropped LINK and went back to phone or satphone. Lesson learned. The device had more bells and whistles, but it essentially did the same thing it does today…let’s you talk to people. Why complicate matters?

But one creative disappointment can’t ruin the creative process for me. NOT EVEN CLOSE. That was ONE device out of hundreds used in the novel, and I had a ton of fun with the rest. Too much fun, probably.

mq-9-reaper_001-ts600If you’ve read any of my books, you probably can guess that I like weapons. From knives to attack helicopters, I don’t shy away from the details, and I like my characters to make the best use of the weaponry available to them. Fractured State gave me the unique opportunity to take systems currently in development, and imagine them in widespread use 20 years from now. Every firearm is more compact and versatile, ammunition is far more lethal, heavy duty weapons systems normally employed by armies are now available to mercenary groups, and the effectiveness of personal protective equipment has increased to counter this new lethality. Take a look at the following links, along with a brief explanation of how I chose to employ that technology in Fractured State.

Guided sniper munitions – Used by assassins in a coordinated attack against a politician at his reinforced mansion. The effect is rather gruesome, as you can imagine.

ge5mcdjxhbxj9sfxla38Color night vision technology – I call it synthetic daylight…heard it here first! This actually presented a bit of a challenge, since describing what the characters see through these goggles is no different than what they’d see in the daylight. At times, my developmental editor couldn’t remember if it was night or day. To remedy this, I added some additional features to the goggle’s display, which measured light intensity and could tell the wearer how dark it was outside.

Liquid gel body armor – This has so much promise for the future in my opinion. Form fitting and reactive, liquid gel body armor can potentially stop any type of munition, evenly spreading the brunt force of the impact to reduce internal injuries commonly seen with solid plate armor.

Dragonskin armor – Recently rejected by the U.S. Army, I see a future for this type of armor. Lighter, shape conforming and effective against armor piercing ammunition…I could see this as standard issue.

Rifle launched missiles – I don’t actually use these in the books, but damn if this isn’t cool.

xm25Smart grenade launchers – I take this one step further, and apply the same range finding automation to an automatic grenade launcher system. The effects are spectacularly devastating…and messy of course.

Hand launched surveillance drones – Nothing new about the Raven, except the newer versions can fly longer and transmit more data. Putting two of these in the air, one of the teams in the book finds a “needle in a haystack.”

See through wall radar and imaging devices – Can you imagine looking at a 3-Dimensional schematic of a building and seeing a live image of everyone inside? It’s not really possible today, but in 2035…

Bullet resistant glass (nothing new, but this video is COOL) – I find some creative uses for glass like this in the series…in ways you might not expect.

Missile firing drones – Over U.S. airspace? You bet, especially when operated by Cerberus International…and to make matters worse, the drones are mostly undetectable.

Active or adaptive camouflage – Can you turn a vehicle invisible? With enough money and 20 years of research and development. Why not?

Converting seawater to energy – This method is energy intensive, but when co-located with a nuclear power plant?

Desalination plants – Reality today, and critical to survival in a drought parched future.

This is a very short list of some of the types of technology upgrades found in Fractured State, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything is slightly reimagined in this series, from sinks that recycle water for rinsing to mandatory  GPS tracking systems installed on every vehicle to measure fuel efficiency and restrict movement. Life has changed…it’s up to the reader to decide if the change is for better or worse.


READ Behind the Scenes Part One, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five


  1. Big Game James says:

    Wow, what a great intro into the new series Steven! Can’t wait to read Fractured States just as soon as I finish the Perseid Collapse series. As a lifetime resident of Southern California, I can attest that things have been getting drier and drier. Won’t be long before they put the walls up to keep us Californians penned in, because Lord knows there will be an exodus of thirsty Californians heading north.

    • Steven Konkoly says:

      You’ll like what I did in my book. Just the opposite…walls put up to keep anyone else from coming in, either from other states or Mexico. I had a ton of fun envisioning what they could do to keep the problem contained or at least from causing a mass exodus.

      • Big Game James says:

        I’ve been telling my friends for years and years that walls would be going up around California, but I never figured it would be to keep people out. Can’t wait to find out why. I have a feeling Fractured State is going to be a great read. Let’s see how many Californians move up to Washington after reading it.

  2. Clifton D Bradley says:

    In 2009 a JSOC guy I call ‘Grimlock’ assigned to MacDill drew out plans for homemade liquid gel body armor, but to dissipate the shock force and help the bullet break up, the gel was impregnated with small flat round pieces of carbonite or tungsten. After talking about the cooling properties of black diamonds though, we changed the gel and the materials to black diamond. Which is just crushed industrial diamond waste. Keeps the wearer cool as well as providing protection.
    I say we patent it.

    • Steven Konkoly says:

      Crushed diamond powder…very interesting. I took some liberties with the liquid gel armor in the book…the concept was very intriguing. I saw an article about “foam” armor, but honestly couldn’t decide if it was an Onion article or not. Talked about disintegrating AP bullets on contact, which seemed really far fetched.

  3. beecozz says:

    I’m interested to see how you deal with the fact that Californians HATE firearms. In 20 years they would be regulated down to a rubberband gun!!! And living in Oregon and seeing the price of housing and land skyrocketing do to the influx of thirsty Californians I have been advocating a wall on our southern border for some time!!! It might be ok if these Californians would leave their mass consumer/throw away insatiable appetite for everything new and plastic at the border. But they don’t! They need to fully assimilate or not come!!! IMHO! I love your books!!!

    • Steven Konkoly says:

      Firearms? There shall be no firearms in 2035, at least nothing beyond heavily regulated and licensed hunting rifles…with no loopholes. 😉 Even rubber band guns might be banned.

      You’ll enjoy the subtle (or not so subtle) social commentary about California. In Fractured State, California has reversed most of those trends (not voluntarily) due to resource depletion and competition. Few leave the state anymore, and few are allowed in permanently. Immigration is strictly controlled, coming from other states or Mexico. I could go on forever. You’ll love it.

      And thank you for the kind remark about my books!

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