Local author’s new sci-fi thriller is a romp to read. ‘Unlawful Presence’ rolls into the not-so-distant future | VailDaily.com

Local author’s new sci-fi thriller is a romp to read. ‘Unlawful Presence’ rolls into the not-so-distant future

A local author’s new sci-fi novel about sometimes-deadly conflicts between humans and androids is a rowdy romp.

“Unlawful Presence” is author Bill Lasher’s latest work, a science-fiction adventure story with black comedy and quite a bit of political satire. The novel explores how man will deal with the coming robotics revolution, Lasher said, both the good and the bad.

Lasher’s 30-second elevator-ride summary goes like this:

“The story begins in the not-too-distant future, before the car accident in Phoenix, before she became the half android, half human Nancy Johnson … when she was still Vanessa Alvarado, an affluent Colombian college student who knew Captain Dominguez as Oscar Mendoza, in truth, an American spy on a mission to infiltrate the Inca Resurreccion …”

“Unlawful Presence” takes readers to a variety of locations: the mountains of Peru, to Buenos Aires, and Bogota. It’s a vivid tale of ruthless drug gangs and murderous androids running through the streets of Mexico and the American Southwest.

As a heads up, some of the dialogue is laced with profanity. Lasher says it’s rated PG-13.

Good guys vs. bad guys

Like any good thriller, “Unlawful Presence” has good guys and bad guys and they’re clearly defined. Except …

The good guys are not entirely good and the bad guys are not entirely bad, which creates all sorts of delightful and unexpected plot twists.

“There is a large element of betrayal and earned redemption,” Lasher said.

Like real life, in “Unlawful Presence” androids have become increasingly difficult to distinguish from humans.

The Andy Smiths are the good guy androids, generally.

Drug cartels and other bad guys acquire illegal killer androids to use as hit squads.

Vanessa Alvarado is a good guy (woman). She’s in a horrific car crash as she’s running from a hit man android who’s trying to kill her. The crash causes some brain damage, so her rich father has a piece of a good-guy Andy Smith’s brain implanted in his daughter. That’s enough to change Vanessa Alvarado into Nancy Johnson, a federal cop.

Eddie Dominguez is a decorated special ops officer who goes bad, and makes millions when he starts an illegal android smuggling ring.

Nancy Johnson/Vanessa Alvarado sets about stopping him.

Lasher mixes quick pacing with humor and dialogue to keep the story moving forward at a breakneck pace.

The book is formatted to read well on a tablet or a smartphone.

A bit about Bill

You may remember Lasher from his prolific letter to the editor writing in the Vail Daily. Those letters took a decidedly conservative viewpoint, which sparked some spirited exchanges with other readers, who tended to approach political debate from a left-leaning point of view.

He has written all sorts of things, from short stories to screenplays, in addition to working as a carpenter in the Eagle River and Roaring Fork valleys to keep the bills paid.

Like all writers, he’d like to get paid for his work, but for now it’s enough that he finished the novel and made it available for people to read, Lasher said. He’s dealing with literary agents and publishers, he said.

He published his 81,000-word work online, Unlawfulpresence.com. To easily find it, you need to search unlawfulpresence.com. Add “a killer robot thriller,” and it’ll take you straight there. If you don’t you’ll have to wade through all sorts of legal jargon, since unlawful presence is a legal term.

“Unlawful Presence” is worth looking for.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.