What if you made the worst mistake of your life and got the chance to fix it? Only you made it so much worse? From the incomparable crafter of nine cross-genre works of fiction, Lisa deNikolits expands her horizons to pen a grab-you-by-the-throat, feminist speculative-fiction thriller in the style of Groundhog Day meets The Matrix.
The perfect father kills his family on Christmas Eve, and tries to undo his actions by jumping back in time. The result is murder and mayhem in dystopia. Set in 2055, the world is run by robots and virtual data, while the weather is controlled by satellite dishes. Arts and culture are no more than distant memories. People are angry, placated by prescribed visits to rage rooms to vent their boredom, fury, and discontent. Beneath the sunny skies and behind the garbage-free suburban McMansions live deeply disturbed, materialistic families.
During his time travels and increasingly desperate attempts to reserve his colossal mistake, Sharps Barkley meets the leader of the Eden Collective, a feminist army determined tosave the Earth by removing all artificial intelligence and letting the Earth restore itself--if necessary, at the expense of mankind. The Eden Collective uses data gathered from the rage rooms to analyze and predict the potential and actions needed for the Earth to reset andthey need to prove that time travel is an effective tool. If Sharps can go back and save his children, then there is hope for the future. Sharps is the 49th experiment and his success is pivotal. Can love prevail over anger?
The Rage Room has a multi-layered plot that is fueled by a feminist-driven courage to take charge and save the world as it exposes the effects of an increasingly digital age on our lives and, ultimately, our humanity.
About the author
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain. No Fury Like That, her most recently published work, is her seventh novel. It will be published in Italian, under the title Una furia dell'altro mondo, in 2019. Previous works include: The Hungry Mirror (winner 2011 IPPY Gold Medal); West of Wawa (winner 2012 IPPY Silver Medal); A Glittering Chaos (winner 2016 Bronze IPPY Medal ; The Witchdoctor's Bones; Between the Cracks She Fell (winner 2016 for Contemporary Fiction); and The Nearly Girl. Lisa lives and writes in Toronto. Her ninth novel, The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist's Solution is forthcoming in 2019.
Excerpt: The Rage Room (by (author) Lisa de Nikolits)
Going UndergroundWe're here," Norman finally said and we slumped down on the ground in relief."My feet are killing me," Shasta said and she pulled off her shoes. Her feet were a mashed-up pulp of blood and ooze."Why didn't you say?" Knox looked ready to cry. "I would have carried you. Norman, this is ridiculous."But Norman wasn't listening. He was inserting a huge old-fashioned key into a massive oak tree and we watched, open-mouthed, as he swung the tree half open, revealing a small elevator."Can we all fit?" Knox asked. "I get claustrophobia. Can I go down first or after you guys? We can't fit."This was a first, something Knox and I had in common. I hated the thought too."We all have to go together," Norman said and Shasta looked doubtful. She peered into curved out tree. "It's not real," she said, stroking the tree."Of course it's not real," Norman said. "Listen, we can't leave the door open much longer, a security breach will sound. Get it or don't.""Permethrin," Norman said. "Bug spray. It was a regular feature on airlines back in the last century. It was approved by the who but people objected and they eventually stopped using it. But Janaelle likes us to be cootie-free although, as you will see, the process has only just begun.""How much longer?" Knox asked and he was beginning to hyperventilate. Shasta pulled him close and whispered to him, but his body language stayed taut and he was shaking. He was sweating like a pig and despite the bug spray, his stench filled the small space. Four bodies in need of a shower and a few bars of lye soap.The door opened and we spilled out like wound-up sardines sprung from a can. We sprawled on the floor, gasping for breath. I sat up first, rubbing my eyes and the others followed suit. We were greeted by a robot who regarded us impassively."Follow me," he barked electronically and we got to our feet. Shasta grabbed Knox's hand and hung on tight. The robot looked like a titanium Terry's Chocolate Orange, its petals neatly folded inwards with triangular panels forming a base. It looked like a moving flower or a petalled sea crab with two bright blue stalk-eyes sticking off his ball head, eyes that seemed strangely expressive. I swear the thing even blinked."It's a Roundabout, modelled on a MorphHex, first made by Kare Halvorsen," Norman said. "Cute though, isn't he? I somehow think it's a he."Shasta nodded, her eyes wide. "You're crushing my hand," Knox said and she loosened her grip but pressed closer to him."I didn't imagine it would be this futuristic," she whispered. "Or this underground. Are you okay?"Knox nodded although he didn't look convinced. "Trying not to think about it," he said.The Roundabout led us into a room and without warning, a door slammed shut, locking us in. Knox slammed his hand against the door and quickly discovered it was steel. I could see Knox was about to lose it; he was nano-seconds away from screaming and pounding the door when giant sunflower-shaped shower heads dropped from the ceiling and the room filled with steam and hot spray."Cleansing cycle initiated!" the Roundabout announced, volume high. "Remove outer garments now! Remove outer garments now!""Take your clothes off," Norman yelled. "And close your eyes. This won't hurt! Stand still!""I'm not getting undressed," Shasta shouted and she screamed as the Roundabout raised itself up to six feet tall on spindly legs, extended spider arms and ripped her clothes off. Its eyesdidn't look that friendly anymore.I kept wiping my eyes and trying to sneak glances at what was happening. We were covered with pale green shaving cream that smelled like cedar and pine with a touch of Old Spice, still a bestselling male fragrance. I figured out why the scent was familiar, it was like the after-rinse detergent at the rage rooms. Where were we? I was sure that was no coincidence.Was this a government-sponsored initiative? But Norman had said these were biohackers, geeks."Rub your bodies," the Roundabout announced, disturbing my thoughts. "Rub your bodies."We did as he said, motivated I guess, by fear that if we didn't, it would."Cleaning cycle complete, rinse cycle initiated. Rub bodies to remove excess residue from cleansing cycle." Caught under the steaming waterfall force of the rinse cycle, I welcomed the opportunity to rinse every pore.The water stopped abruptly and panels extended from the wall, offering stacks of thick white towels, neatly-folded track pants, a hoodie, and a t-shirt, white slippers, and an additional small metal tray with toiletries.Shasta pulled on the clothes while she was still wet."Where did our old clothes go?" Knox asked. "I was kinda fond of those jeans, man. It's really hard to get good jeans these days. And that hoodie, I got it on the set of an ad with an Ansel Elgort cover version and he even signed it. It's worn off, but still. And my shoes man, NikesNewCentury. I can't afford to replace them. And this shit," he tugged at his white garb, "makes me look like a mental patient.""You'll get them back," Norman said. "Shasta, you'll get replicas. You guys need to relax. This is a safe place. Janaelle's just got a thing for clean.""Where did the water go?" I asked and Norman pointed to the edges of the room. "Drains. So cool, right? Shall we move on?"The door had opened without us noticing and the Roundabout, reduced to its former ball size, rolled along like a ball-bearing.We passed an enormous warehouse lab with floor-to-ceiling windows and technicians in white suits studying computers. I stopped and stared. "Norman," I said evenly, clenching my fists as my side and barely stopping myself from pounding the shit out of him, "you've got some explaining to do."I was looking at a massive ball suspended in the centre of the room. The ball was at least the size of four station bubble cars and it rotated slowly. The surface was a matrix of edge-to-edge angled screens, like a dragonfly's eyes. The whole thing looked a peeled pomegranate, enough to make a trypophobe run screaming, but that wasn't why I was glaring at Norman. It was the content on the screens. Each screen showed a rage room, with a man or woman, hitting or screaming and or smashing things. Hundreds of rage rooms.I stared at Norman and he studied his fingernails and gnawed at the edge of this thumb. "That's The Eye. Janaelle will explain everything," he said, walking away and I had no choice but to follow him.We heard a strange noise, a gurgling sound and we all looked around, including Norman."My stomach," Knox apologized, "I'm hungry.""We're here," Norman said.The Roundabout stopped at a glass door, extended a bony steel finger, and the door opened."You said you were hungry?" Norman asked Knox and he gestured to a long mahogany dining room table with full crystal place settings, complete with place cards and starched napkins shaped like swans."Janaelle loves swans," Norman said and he found his name card and sat down. "Let's eat.""You've forgotten something, little brother," a voice rang out into the room, a deep, husky, lounge-room voice. "Naughty boy. What did you forget?""To say grace," Norman looked shamefaced. He held out his hands. "Come on, hold hands, and don't argue."We all grabbed each other's hands."Dear Humankind, we have thus far failed you. We have failed you with our greed, our selfish preoccupations, our lust, and our laziness. There is only one Creator and Her Name is Truth, and we shall set Her free. Namaste."
"In her latest captivating book, Lisa de Nikolits proffers not only a roller coaster of entertainment, but also, sharp political commentary in complicated times. The Rage Room is an intricately woven dystopian world, rich in strong female characters who easily whisk readers to a world of futuristic follies. Move over George Orwell--De Nikolits shows us how the future can be scary, exciting, and above all, female."
--Kelly S. Thompson, national bestselling author of Girls Need Not Apply: Field Notes from the Forces
"If dystopian speculative fiction is your thing, with the enticement of time travel, you won't go wrong with The Rage Room. The world de Nikolits has built is utterly fascinating, and quite horrific, yet believable. I sympathized with the main character, even though he is flawed, but that makes the story even more interesting. What a ride! The plot ratchets up like a train speeding down the tracks out of control. Gripping tension, and at the same time, highly complex, with multiple time travel redos and memories overlapping. I found that fascinating. I was absolutely riveted, and pleased to see that it ends with the hint of more books to come."
--Melodie Campbell, award-winning author of The Goddaughter series
"We've all wanted to go back to the past to fix the future - but Sharps has messed things up so much in his own high- tech future-world that he has to do it. Lisa de Nikolits takes us - and him - on a wild, high-octane ride into other times and places so bizarre, blighted, funny and wise that they just might seem chillingly familiar. She turns time travel on its proverbial ear and you won't want to get out of the passenger seat until the last page."
--Catherine Dunphy, author of Morgentaler, A Difficult Hero
"Why would one go back in time? To make things right, of course. But every time Sharps visits his past, things change in ways he can't control, and he keeps changing from a worrier to a warrior. I loved all the witty characters, and original, daring twists in this genuine reality fiction beyond imagination!"
--Suzana Tratnik, author of Games with Greta
"Dark, fun, weird, imaginative, The Rage Room is a dystopic ride perfect for the anxieties and conditions of the present day. The paranoia of Sharps Barkley seeps into you, propelling this thriller that will keep you guessing to the very end."
--David Albertyn, author of Undercard
"With The Rage Room, Lisa de Nikolits takes a deep dive into dystopia. Prepare to be alternately chilled and thrilled as the hapless hero journeys backwards and forwards in time in his increasingly desperate attempts to right his terrible wrongs, and to find some sense in his rapidly disintegrating world."
-- Lorna Poplak, author of Drop Dead: A Horrible History of Hanging in Canada