An Apocalypse Without Green Chile: A Character Interview with Rhona Long, Protagonist of MACHINATIONS and COUNTERPART
Today I'm talking to Rhona Long, the protagonist of MACHINATIONS and COUNTERPART. She's the leader of an underground resistance against a deadly machine uprising, and she is just the kind of badass you want on your side when the robots go wrong. A couple of months ago, I interviewed author Hayley Stone, but now I've managed to access an exclusive portal into the story world in order to ask Rhona a few questions.
Sarena Ulibarri: Okay, Rhona, here's something that's been bothering me. You and Samuel grew up in New Mexico (that's where I live — Go, Lobos!), and now you're stuck hiding in a bunker in Alaska while machines try to kill you. How do you cope without green chile? For most New Mexicans I know, that would be an apocalypse in and of itself.
Rhona Long: Two words, my friend: memory loss. You can’t miss what you can’t remember, right?
Though now you have me curious and… damn. Yep. Now you’ve got me hankering for this legendary chile. Thanks a lot. Though I guess that’s one good thing about having a faulty memory: you get to experience a lot of great things again for the first time. I’ll have to ask Samuel about it later. Watch him turn out to be a closet Mexican food fan.
SU: How did it come to be that Alaska is the last holdout against the machines?
RL: As much as I’d like to take the credit for it, everything was in place before I arrived. McKinley base was established by the US, as part of some continuity of government plan. Alaska was the perfect location because it’s so freaking cold. The ice messes with the machines, and the terrain gives their mobile units a lot of trouble. Plus, the mountain itself, Denali, protects the base from detection and aerial bombardment. So I guess you could say, paranoia, dumb luck, and the climate. That’s what’s saving the human race.
SU: The machines in your world are eliminating humans because they decided it was the logical way to stop human wars and cruelty. At least the TVs and DVD players will still obey your commands. What are your favorite films to watch while hiding out in your secret paramilitary base?
RL: Anything with Ewan McGregor. (Don’t tell Camus.)
No, but seriously, Moulin Rouge is one of my favorites. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good romance. Samuel’s also got me on a strict diet of old sci-fi and fantasy movies that he claims I used to love. He’s been right so far. All twelve of the Star Wars films were fun, and The Princess Bride always manages to lift my spirits. Zelda keeps trying to convince me to watch the second Terminator, but honestly the first one was enough.
SU: Time for a serious question: You're a clone, resurrected from the DNA and memories of the original Rhona Long. What is it like to be the only clone in a world of non-clones, especially when humans are becoming an endangered species?
RL: To be honest, I don’t think about being a clone as much now as I first did. I mean, I try not to, anyway. You ever hear the expression about carrying around a glass full of water? It’s like that. The longer you hold on to the glass, the heavier it gets, until finally it’s this crushing weight. It becomes all you think about. Better to set it down somewhere, and only pick it up when you really need a drink.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m done holding that glass of water, you know? I know what I am. I know who I am. If you’re asking me if I think that cloning is a solution to the genocide of the human race, I don’t know. I’ve never really considered it. But probably not. Clones come with a lot of emotional baggage. In case that wasn’t already obvious.
SU: What's next for you and the other survivors?
RL: I’m optimistic about a treaty between the North Americans factions, the Chinese, the North Koreans, and the New Soviets—I guess you’d still call them Russians in your world, huh? Politics be crazy, am I right? Such a coalition should strengthen humanity, divide the load, and make it easier to carry the burden of this conflict. I believe that together we can accomplish far more than we’ve managed to while apart.
Whoa, sorry. Went into full Commander mode there for a second. Habit. Honestly, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time. Who knows what the future holds in store?
Though now I’m hoping the answer is green chile...
About the Author
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Hayley Stone has lived her entire life in sunny California, where the weather is usually perfect and nothing as exciting as a robot apocalypse ever happens. When not reading or writing, she freelances as a graphic designer, falls in love with videogame characters, and analyzes buildings for velociraptor entry points. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in German from California State University, Sacramento. Counterpart is her second novel, and a choice for Amazon’s Best Sci-fi and Fantasy Books of the Month for October.