Synopsis: The Swarming Stage by Gaylord Dold

The blown mission was on Quinn. The body count was on Quinn too—one Syrian cloneslogger Quinn had killed, a stateless slogger smoked inside the Mulholland mudshield perimeter, and twelve commercial germline clones incinerated by cleanup crews. More important in a political sense was the death of WinstonD, a programmed natural trainee discovered lying half-in and half-out of a holobubble with his throat slashed ear to ear, rose-red blood wobbling around the pink sphere of the bubble, WinstonD circulating pint by pint.

Administrators at Joint Task Force expressed sympathy for Quinn’s plight, taking into consideration the serious arm injury he’d incurred, a wound requiring difficult regeneration therapy; that on the heels of his wife’s death only months before. The mission had been punctuated by unfortunate breaches of protocol, among which was the omission to deploy advance micro-scouts, the failure to engage watchdog drones, and the fact that Quinn had left his programmed partner alone with a cloneslogger. On the plus side was Quinn’s sterling record in Category One crimes investigation, a record that spoke for itself, a “thing of beauty” according to Director Klaar, who had known Quinn’s father when they’d both been naval aviators on drone micro-squad duty over the East Asian nuclear containment theater. On the negative side were muted grumblings from programmed naturals on the Algeny Force, a ripple of discontent directed against Quinn’s openly professed disdain for their kind occupying investigative positions on the Joint Task Force, as opposed to purely technical ones.

THE TIME is A.D. 2092.
THE PLACE used to be Los Angeles, now called THE BASIN AUTHORITY ZONE.

Water scarcity, social breakdown and climate changed have made southern California into a disorganized desert area with porous borders, a swirling mix of invaders from south and east, and private enclaves of the rich and powerful. In this last decade of the 21st century, human beings are not what they seem. Some of them are “naturals”, others are genetically modified, programmed drones, or spliced with other

species. Marauding gangs sweep the landscape looking for gasoline, food or water. In the not too distant past, a nuclear explosion in the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station destroyed the unity of the United States, dividing it into regions, sub-regions and incoherent pieces. Power is shared in the Basin by the Authority, a semi-government which keeps “order” and The Corporation, which manages what remains of commerce, some of it in human body parts, genetic splices and rare animals.

Quinn is an investigator for The Corporation, generally assigned to round up clonesloggers, renegades who trade in genetically damaged humans, mining their genes. When he’s called by his bosses to investigate the death of a geneticist named Kamenev at a Palos Verdes Lab, he meets Detective Sergeant Keiko Namura of the Authority who is likewise investigating the death. At the crime scene, Quinn and Namura reluctantly agree to cooperate. When they discover a gigantic virtual beehive and a trove of rare Russian poetry, they know they’ve stumbled on to something unusual.

Theirs is a story of love and escape.


My interest in science fiction and crime began early on, in the movie-houses of my youth where giant spiders roamed the Mojave Desert, from late nights watching The Twilight Zone, and from comic books. These days, what used to be science fiction—climate change, genetic engineering, space travel, identity theft, and behavior modification, have become all too real. This book explores the connection between our loss of natural environments and our ability to love our world and each other. It’s also a darn good crime story.

It can be compared to a mix of Philip K. Dick, William Burroughs, and James M. Cain.