The Lying Planet by Carol Riggs
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Entangled Teen on September 19th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Environment, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
Promise City. That’s the colony I’ve been aiming for all my life on the planet Liberty. The only thing standing in my way? The Machine. On my eighteenth birthday, this mysterious, octopus-like device will scan my brain and Test my deeds. Good thing I’ve been focusing on being Jay Lawton, hard worker and rule follower, my whole life. Freedom is just beyond my fingertips.
Or so I thought. Two weeks before my Testing with the Machine, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality. The truth. In a single sleepless night, everything I thought I knew about the adults in our colony changes. And the only one who’s totally on my side is the clever, beautiful rebel, Peyton. Together we have to convince the others to sabotage their Testings before it’s too late.
Before the ceremonies are over and the hunting begins.
Character Interview: The Machine
Hi…uh…Machine? Can I call you that?
Yes, you may. It is my title, human.
Um…Okayyyy. Anyway, I’m stoked about this interview. Liberty is an interesting looking planet, kind of like Earth. My camera doesn’t seem to be working properly, so why don’t you start off by explaining to readers what you…well…would you mind describing to them how you look?
I’m a full three meters tall, which translated for non-metric beings is 9.84 feet. At my center is a single seat. Eight iridescent, silvery arms flare out from the base behind the seat. My arms are my weighing appendages. The base holds my scanning elements.
Now that readers know what you look like, I’m sure they’re wondering what your job is, since everyone on Liberty has one. What exactly is it that you do?
Every two weeks, my function is to perform the Testing of any teen who turns 18 and is ready to graduate from the colony of Sanctuary. The graduate sits in my seat, and a sensor cap is placed on his or her head. When my weighing appendages are activated, I scan the human’s brain, and my arms rise and fall to determine a balance and a final score. Good deeds, kind actions, and hard work earn positive points, while misbehavior, deceit, and laziness deduct from the total score. This is a vital ceremony on our planet.
That sounds interesting. This scoring system, how high can you score? What’s the minimum? What happens to the eighteen-year-olds that don’t reach that minimum score? Sorry, that was a bunch of questions all at once.
Apology accepted; I will overlook your excess zeal. The scoring ranges from zero to above 150. Since my services began on Liberty six years ago, only two graduates have scored over 150. With a minimum score of 50, teens can earn a reward like a wristcomm, a very high-tech communication device. A score of 75 allows the teen to receive the 50-mark wristcomm as well as a laser knife, a choice of supply equipment, an egg-laying hen, etc. Earning over 100 wins additional excellent prizes such as a ludmium-charged music player or a hybrid-power hoverbike. Over 150 earns a hover vehicle (UHV) or a cloudskimmer (flying ship) for maximum freedom and acclaim.
While I detest discussing low scores, the harsh reality is that any score of 25 or below is considered failing. A banishment rod awaits these unworthy teens. They will be forcibly branded on the forehead with a letter “B” and banished to the deadly outer zones.
Oh. Well, that’s…that’s a new way of things. Sounds like Liberty has a system that works… The teenagers have their moment in the spotlight, but you’re the main event every two weeks! What’s that like?
I have a position of eminence that I believe is well-earned. The Testing is a crucial task to perform in Sanctuary. Therefore, Commander Farrow and the lieutenants make sure I’m well-maintained, polished properly, and protected with a biolock on a sturdy dome enclosure. I power down into a well-deserved rest mode between ceremonies.
Shoot. Looks like my phone’s been going haywire. I was supposed to be back ten minutes ago! Thanks for speaking with me, Machine! It’s been fun.
I extend my thanks to you also, human, for explaining to the masses about me and my important function on the planet Liberty.
The Machine from Jay Lawton’s Point of View
Two armed guards unlock and slide back the sections of the clear dome enclosure. Now exposed, the towering apparatus gleams under the overhead lights, its bulk polished to a brilliant shine. Its spiny arms spread outward in a pose that looks almost hungry. One guard, wrenching a lever by the base of the seat, brings the device to life.
The Machine winds into a vibrating hum. It fluctuates into a slow-then-fast, slow-then-fast rhythm that reminds me of hoarse, uneven breathing. The sound fills the stadium. I find myself holding my own breath. Dad says the circuitry in its cap reads our brains like it’s scanning a data file of our lives—sequenced to read the quality of our memories, synapses, feelings, and attitudes.
The commander gestures to a nearby heating receptacle that holds the branding iron. “The banishment rod is ready for scores of twenty-five or below, but we trust its use won’t be necessary. Tonight’s Testing will begin with the boys, as usual. In alphabetical order by last name, I call Nash Redmond to the weighing platform.”
The crowd’s attention fastens on Nash as he walks with confidence to the Machine. He settles onto the seat and faces Commander Farrow with a steady gaze. A guard fits a silver metal cap onto his head, its wires connected and glinting in readiness.
I lean forward on the bleacher seat. Aubrie leans forward with me.
For Nash’s sake, I hope he passes.
Meet the Machine yourself and the rest of the citizens of Liberty! Get your copy of The Lying Planet by Carol Riggs!