beth kander

Award-winning author of the Original Syn Trilogy

Despite hating the cold, Beth Kander is a Chicago-based writer. Her dystopian epic Original Syn debuted to acclaim in September 2018 (Owl House Books). An award-winning playwright, Beth has an MFA in Creative Writing from Mississippi University for Women, and also holds degrees from Brandeis University and the University of Michigan. ​Her favorite activities include theatre, yoga, inventing new leftovers-based recipes, and troll-hunting. She lives with her husband, daughter, and a giant rescue dog named Oz.


Visit her at bethkander.com

Bestselling

Original Syn Book 1 

Paperback | Size: 5.5 x 8.5 | Length: 448 pgs |  | List Price: 19.95

 

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Available in Paperback and ebook.
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About

the book

Fifty years after the Singularity, the world is divided into two populations locked in a cold war: Synthetic Citizens, or Syns, human-computer hybrids with extraordinary enhancements and potentially infinite lifespans; and Originals, the individuals who did not merge their bodies with the machines.

But the decades-long battle between Original and Syn is almost at an end, because the Originals are on the verge of extinction. One of the only young Originals left in the world, Ere, knows he might someday be the very last of his kind. But when he meets a beautiful, powerful Syn girl called Ever, he questions everything he’s ever been told about his lifelong enemies.

Original Syn is a rich, dangerous world of family secrets, free will, forbidden love, and all of the unexpected peril that arises when aggressive technology meets stubborn humanity.

“In the future of Beth Kander’s Original Syn, singularity has been achieved, leading to two branches of humanoids: Originals, who are deprived of technological enhancement; and Syns, enhanced humans who are physically ageless and connected to vast networks of knowledge. The two groups oppose each other in perpetual warfare, the origins of which have long been forgotten. With superior technology, the Syns are winning, while the Originals are ever-diminishing in number . . . The novel’s disparate worlds are revealed slowly, and the story is sophisticated enough to engage both adults and teens. The book maintains a taut pace to the end, concluding with a plot twist that turns the tables and stimulates interest in a second volume, soon to come.”

–Foreword Review

 

“A gripping story whose words pop off the page… humor, love, masterful storytelling… Beth Kander paints a complex picture of the human condition. ‘Original Syn’ is a transformational piece of literature.”

Andrew Slack, Founder, The Harry Potter Alliance 

Read the first pages of Original Syn

“[Computers] will not just be doing arithmetic very quickly or composing piano music but also driving cars, writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties… maybe we’ll merge with them to become super-intelligent cyborgs.”

–Lev Grossman, “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal,” Time magazine, February 2011

“Standing here, I almost see
The girl I was, the crone I’ll be,
The Blessing of age, passing of time
Teaching us all, profane and sublime,
We will never relent, we will never rely
Thus we will live.
And thus we will die…”

–Song of the Original Resistance, circa 2030, author unknown

“The outsider inside will end the beginning.”
–Prophecy from Heaven, 2063

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Preface: Karma

Latest Release

Born in Syn Book 2 of the Original Syn Trilogy

Trade Paperback | Size: 5.5 x 8.5 | Length: 412pgs | List Price: $18.95

Forthcoming October 15, 2019

How did we get here?

That’s the question that drives each friend, each foe, and every strand of the stories woven together in Born in Syn.

From an eerily intelligent infant, to individuals wrongly accused or imprisoned, to insiders who know things they wish they didn’t and outsiders determined to bulldoze their way into the action, dozens of small decisions and huge risks pile on top of one another, contributing to the creation of a future that will change everything.

War. Ambition. Family. Betrayal. As every character hurtles us ever-faster forward, one truth becomes inescapable: Even the end of the world was once the beginning of someone’s story.

 

_______________________

Available in Paperback and ebook.
*Receive 20% off when you purchase in our store
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This sequel to Original Syn begins in the near past before rushing far into the future. The central character, genius Nathan Fell, is followed from birth, and Kander shares snippets of other characters' stories as they intersect with Nathan's, revealing how these family lines and people are connected to his great thirst for knowledge. Nathan seeks ultimate understanding in his field, and climbs to this summit at great cost to himself, his family, and the human race. The world plunges into a chaos ultimately fueled by Nathan's crowning achievement. The fast-paced tale is filled with believable and authentic characters with ambiguous responses, feelings, and development, and readers will stay up way past bedtime to finish it. The most disappointing aspect is the wait for the third installment to be published. VERDICT Recommended for all dystopian fiction lovers, especially those who appreciate the syncing (pun intended) of technology with the story line.

—Library Journal

“Original Syn has one of the most creative settings in modern science fiction, with roots in real theories and ideas. Kander’s novel puts a bold new twist on the classic ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story while also introducing a large variety of new characters and concepts that keep the book feeling fresh and new.”

–Clarion-Ledger

“Original Syn is a heart-pounding book that will keep readers on their toes and turning the page.”

–Mia Siegert, author of Jerkbait

“Original Syn is the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve read its final pages; an unforgettable story that pulls you in and takes you along for the ride.”

–Francesca G. Varela, award-winning author of Seas of Distant Stars

Read the first pages of Born in Syn

Preface

 

As Cal crawls through the open window, he is incredulous. He gives silent thanks for his abruptly miraculous circumstances. He feels as if he is in the midst of a prayer being answered. Taking another tentative step toward what he hopes is his destiny, he trembles, overcome by the shadowy question that envelops those at a pivotal crossroads in their life:

How did I get here?

 

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ANN ARBOR 1962 – 1963

CHAPTER 1: ERNEST

 

Is today the day I get to meet him, Daddy?”

“Hope so, buddy.”

“Your eyes are saggy. Are you exhausted?”

“I’m tired, yes,” said Ernest Fell. He wasn’t in the habit of lying to his son, and the overly-observant boy would know if Ernest fibbed. And he was, as a point of fact, exhausted.

The past week had been a blur, shuttling between home and the hospital, dividing his time between the maternity ward where his wife Lila was recovering from a traumatic labor and the neonatal ICU where his newborn son was breathing with assistance in a carefully monitored incubator. Baby Nathan was born five days ago, six weeks early.

“I want to meet my brother.”

“I know, Howie. I know.”

As he lowered himself to the floor to meet his son’s eyes, Ernest’s knees popped in a way they never had until he hit thirty. He held out his arms to his big-eyed toddler, and Howie crawled onto his father’s lap, first nuzzling into his narrow chest, then sitting up and taking Ernest’s tired and stubbly face into his chubby little hands.

“And I can see Mommy?”

“Yes, son,” Ernest nodded, smiling at the feel of Howie’s hands clasped on his cheeks, following the motion of his nod, up-down, up-down. “Yes. After we take a little nap.”

“Ugh! I abhor naps!”

Despite his fatigue, Ernest chuckled. Howie was an early talker; dozens of recognizable words before his first birthday, full sentences by sixteen months. The little sponge picked up phrases and vocabulary so rapidly, his parents could barely keep up with him. Abhor wasn’t a word most two-and-a-half-year-olds would deploy. But Howie Fell wasn’t most two-and-a-half-year-olds.

How is this kid mine?

Ernest was smart enough; he taught English at the local community college, was a lifelong reader, did his best to keep up with world affairs. But he wasn’t a genius. Not like his son. Ernest frequently teased Lila about sleeping with Einstein the Milkman. But Howie looked just like Ernest; somehow he was responsible for this kid who started tossing off words like abhor before he was reliably potty-trained.

“Where’d you hear that one, Howie? ‘Abhor’?”

“The Reverend,” Howie says. “It means hate.”

“I know what it means, son,” Ernest said, his amusement immediately dampened.

The Reverend was Ernest’s father. Ernest knew he should be grateful that his parents had come in from Kentucky to help with Howie while he and Lila gave their attention to the new arrival. But dear God, he hoped his father wasn’t planting any overly-religious (or overtly-racist) ideas into Howie’s head.

“Do you abhor naps, Daddy?”

“No, I adore them.”

“Ha. That’s funny. Adore and abhor are rhyming opposites.”

“That’s right.”

“I might adore and abhor having a baby brother.”

A tired smile tugged at Ernest’s lips. “Probably, yeah.”

“Is Baby Nathan napping?”

“Well. Sort of. Baby Nathan is sleeping, and also getting medical treatment.”

“How does that work?”

“Well, there are special doctors in the NICU,” Ernest began. As he explained some of the science to his son, he felt profound gratitude to be living in this time and place. The first full-scale neonatal intensive care unit was established just two years earlier, in 1960, in New Haven, Connecticut. Other university hospitals took quick cues from their friends over at Yale, University of Michigan chief among them. Living in Ann Arbor, with access to the university hospital where the doctors had learned from their colleagues in Connecticut and upgraded their care of premature infants, was a blessing, and not one Ernest took for granted.

If Lila had gone into labor five weeks early a generation ago—or even more recently, but somewhere remote, like the rural farmlands where Ernest grew up in Kentucky—he might have lost both her and their baby. Instead, when Lila announced in a panic that her water had broken, Ernest was able to get her to the hospital within minutes. Five days later, Lila was recovering well, and their new son Nathan was warming in his incubator. Cared for by the best of modern medical technology, he was given a fighting chance. A chance to grow up big and strong, and brilliant, like his big brother Howie.

“Neat-o,” Howie said when Ernest finished explaining to him about the difference between an incubator and an intubator. “Hey! Does Mommy abhor naps? Or adore them?”

“Adores them,” Ernest assured him. “All grown-ups do.”

“All grown-ups do what?”
Ernest’s mother, Millie, shuffled into the kitchen. Millie was a classically constructed old Kentucky woman, wide-hipped, solid shouldered, and serious-eyed. She used to be roughly attractive, but that was a long time ago.
Other than her helmet of hair, nothing about her was well maintained. Her daily garb consisted of battered pink slippers and a long flowered housecoat. Ernest was not sure exactly when his mother had decided that getting dressed for the day was overrated.

“All grown-ups love naps,” Ernest said.

“Adore them,” added Howie.

“Nothing wrong with naps,” Millie agreed.

“How’s Lila?”

“Doing well. Doctors say she can come home, but she wants to stay until the baby can come home, too.”

“And how’s the baby?”

“Better.”

“Five pounds yet?” Millie asked.

Millie, a woman with no medical training but plenty of self-declared areas of expertise, had proclaimed earlier in the week that once the baby weighed five pounds, that would mean the Lord had seen fit to let him live. Five, for reasons unknown, was the magic number. It was the number ordained by God, according to the Gospel of Millie. Five pounds meant life.

“Not yet. But he’ll get there,” Ernest said firmly.

“Where’s the Reverend?”

“Your father went out for a walk. Should be back soon.”

“All right. Come on, buddy,” Ernest lifted Howie from his lap, then set him down on the floor. Ernest rose unsteadily on his spidery-long legs, leaning against the countertop to balance himself. He stretched and yawned wide enough to split his face. “You want to come nap with Daddy?”

“No, thank you,” Howie said politely.

“Right. Because you abhor naps. Guess you’re not a grown-up just yet, Howie-boy.”

“Soon enough,” Millie sniffed.

“You got him, if I head up to grab some quick shut-eye?” Ernest asked.

“Sure. What we’re here for,” Millie nodded.

“Thanks, Ma,” Ernest said, kissing her cheek. She aw-shucksed him away, but seemed girlishly pleased at the gesture. She picked Howie up, grunting at his weight. The boy was growing, while at the other end of the spectrum, Millie had begun her slow but steady shrink.

“You want Grandma to make you some cookies?”

“Cookies!” Howie clapped his hands.

With a grateful look to his mother, the yawning Ernest headed for the bedroom at the back of the one-story ranch home. He hadn’t slept in close to thirty-six hours, and had been fighting the losing battle against sleep for too long. He was ready to surrender. Pulling open the door, he fell face-first onto his bed and was instantly asleep.

A knock at the door. Groaning, unsure how long he’d slumbered and aching for more rest, Ernest got up and opened the door. His father stood framed there, unlit pipe clenched between his teeth, steel-gray eyes fixed sternly on Ernest.

“’Bout time you got up, isn’t it?” The Reverend asked.

Ernest’s father, the Reverend Richard Fell, was known to everyone—his children included—as the Reverend. A God-fearing man who feared little else, the Reverend was not a man to suffer fools. He was also not a man to change his mind, advocate for anything that altered the status quo, or trust anyone not found in a church pew come Sunday morning. He slept the sleep of the supremely self-righteous, and looked down on anyone whose beliefs did not align with his own.

All of which meant he and his son Ernest didn’t see eye to eye on much.

“I just lay down,” Ernest protested.

“You been down three hours,” The Reverend corrected.

“Sonofa—”

“Don’t finish that sentence, boy.”

Ernest bit his tongue, reminding himself he didn’t have the energy to fight with his father. The bouts were never brief. The long list of things for which The Reverend would never forgive his son—Ernest going to college instead of seminary or the military, Ernest marrying a Jewish war orphan, Ernest’s woeful church attendance—rendered combat futile, anyway. Battle became meaningless when the larger war was already so long lost.

“Where’s Howie?” Ernest rubbed his eyes, patted his pockets to make sure his wallet was there, started going through the mental checklist of what to grab before heading back to the hospital. He had only meant to nap for one hour, not three. Lila was expecting him—

“Howie’s in the living room. Your mother’s reading him Bible stories.”

“I’m going to take him with me. To the hospital.”

“You think that’s a good idea, taking Howie to the hospital?” The Reverend asked, in a tone that clearly indicated it was not a good idea to take Howie to the hospital.

“Yes. He hasn’t seen his mother in five days. And we can at least let him look at Baby Nathan through the glass. He wants to see his baby brother.”

The Reverend clamped down harder on his pipe. Ernest walked past him, stopping briefly in the bathroom to splash his face with cold water, then heading into the living room. Grabbing his keys off a bookshelf, he rattled them at his two-year-old.

Howie’s head snapped up from the Bible Stories for Young Readers volume he was reading with his grandmother. His serious little face was even more innocent than the pale baby-faced prophets wearing striped robes and petting lambs on the cover of the bible book. Ernest made a mental note to hide that tiny tome before his hormonal wife came home from the hospital.

“I can come with you, Daddy?”

“If you’re ready, buddy.”

“Ready ready ready!” Howie crowed.

“Kiss your grandma,” Ernest instructed.

Howie obediently kissed Millie, then without being told to do so, ran over to the Reverend.

He wrapped his little arms around the Reverend’s leg. The Reverend did not react.

 

For the entire seven-minute drive to the hospital, Howie peppered his father with questions. Questions about his mother, his baby brother, the doctors and nurses, what other patients were in the hospital for, how long people stayed in hospitals, would he ever need to stay in a hospital, had Mommy ever stayed in a hospital before. It was truly remarkable, how much conversational ground a talkative toddler could cover in a short amount of time.

Reaching the hospital, Ernest parked the old Chevy, then looked at his expectant boy.

“All right, Howie. Are you ready to meet Baby Nathan?”

Howie clapped his hands.

“Ready ready ready!”

 

collected works

Original Syn Book 1

Now Available

Born in Syn Book 2

Forthcoming Oct 15, 2019

Syn & Salvation Book 3

Forthcoming October 2020