A Toxic Wasteland Somehow Gets Even Worse in Sci-Fi Tale Battery Life

A Toxic Wasteland Somehow Gets Even Worse in Sci-Fi Tale Battery Life

Battery Life — about a space traveller and a scavenger who join forces to survive the post-apocalypse — has an intriguing premise, but its backstory might be even cooler: authors Brennan Gilpatrick and Gregory Lang have been friends since the sixth grade, and decided to draw on their shared love of genre to write their first book together.

Here’s more details on what Battery Life is about, followed by the full cover and an exclusive excerpt!

Welcome to the Junkyard, a toxic wasteland where humans, machines, and everything in between fight for survival among the ruins of a long-forgotten war. This is where Diane Three-One-Seven finds herself after the arkship Cradle — the only home she’s ever known — falls out of the sky.

When a mysterious scavenger named Virgil stumbles upon Diane’s escape pod, the two strike a deal (if it can be called that). Virgil’s spare mechanical battle suit, nicknamed the “Grave Walker,” can help Diane survive the ruined atmosphere — but it could kill her if it runs out of power. And Diane’s untainted blood, a precious resource in this radioactive hellscape, could keep Virgil alive long enough to finish one last mission — but at what cost?

The two will have to wait to work out their differences, however, as a new threat appears on the horizon: a masked man called the Messenger, who hopes to subdue the Junkyard with a mysterious new power. With the help of a ragtag team of misfits, Diane and Virgil may just have a chance to stop him — if they don’t kill each other first.

Image: Blackstone Publishing
Image: Blackstone Publishing


Unblinking, the Masked Man looked to the north. He studied the noxious red sky, his rocky muscles tense with anticipation. Here was a man who believed in destiny, and destiny had made him a promise one year ago. Today was the day it delivered. Today he would have everything he needed to make the world a better place.

He stood on a railed balcony high above the Heap — the closest thing the anarchistic Junkyard had to a capital city. Jericho was another universe, inaccessible behind its great wall. The Heap was where all the junkies came to deal their goods, where the great mercenary clans chose to call home. When he looked down, the Masked Man could see every corner of the shanty metropolis laid out before him. His shanty metropolis, now. He could hear the aftershocks of his conquest echoing from below. Civilian mobs quelled. Order beating chaos into submission. The Masked Man took no pleasure in such violence, but he was an agent of peace. Peace required sacrifice.

He drowned out the screams and plasma gunshots, focusing instead on the sweet musical whispers at the edge of his consciousness. Their singsong messages defined him, and soon, they would redefine the Junkyard entirely.

The Masked Man grinned, still watching the northern sky. The future was coming, and it belonged to him.

A deep moan bellowed from the east.

It was an odd noise, like a thunderclap on a loop. All commotion ceased in the city below, and the Masked Man turned to see a shadow filling the distant clouds. It grew denser, stretched wider in every direction, painting the land beneath in artificial night.

The moan built to a crescendo. The Masked Man held his breath.

A flaming needle punctured the sky, ripping the clouds in two. It seemed to fall in slow motion, and a cascade of twisting metal poured after it. Like a top spinning off its axis, the structure entered the atmosphere in one unfathomable piece, but as it descended, the cone of its body shattered in half, and one of its rings snapped away on its own. Three distinct pieces collided with the Junkyard, launching a sandstorm from the impact.

A powerful tremor shook the earth.

The Masked Man gripped the balcony’s rail while some of the shabbier buildings below crumbled into the streets. More screams, followed by more gunshots. Before the tectonic shift even had time to settle, the Heap’s pandemonium resumed in full force.

Behind the Masked Man, an old velvet curtain whipped to the side.

Dr. Isaac ran onto the balcony, his dirty lab coat flapping in the wind.

“It’s farther east than you predicted,” the Masked Man said.

Dr. Isaac gaped at the rising dust and said nothing.

“Send word to Sixty-Seven. It needs to reach the crash site before the junkies pick it clean. Probably a day’s journey from where we stationed it, maybe two. Tell it to travel without stopping.”

“But what about the bounty on Sixty-Seven’s head?” Dr. Isaac asked, rousing from his shock.

“We agreed it should only travel at night.”

“It needs to move now.”

The Masked Man turned around, and Dr. Isaac quickly averted his eyes. Even after all this time, the scientist still couldn’t bring himself to look at that mask for too long.

“We can’t afford to play it safe now, my friend,” the Masked Man said. “All the pieces are in place. Time to save the world.”

This was really happening. Their plan, their shared delusion, would truly come to pass.

Dr. Isaac swallowed hard. “As you wish.”

From Battery Life by Brennan Gilpatrick and Gregory Lang. Used with the permission of the publisher, Blackstone Publishing. Copyright ©2023 by Brennan Gilpatrick and Gregory Lang.

Battery Life by Brennan Gilpatrick and Gregory Lang will be released May 30; you can pre-order a copy here.

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