Universe of Lost Messages

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Published by: Dragon Moon Press
Release Date: May 14, 2024
Pages: 404
ISBN13: 978-1-77400-062-5


What if your child has special powers and can get people to do almost anything? What happens if the child is abducted?

Izzie and Tristan were never mere humans. They are Charismites, with almost god-like powers of magnetism. And they couldn’t be more different. Izzie is a reckless, playful megastar whose popularity far exceeds that of any other celebrity. Tristan is a secluded nature lover, almost completely unknown to anyone beyond a protective biodome.

Their worlds explode when they are abducted by The Fist, a power-hungry political group with  a master plan to control the hearts and minds of all people on Earth and satellite colonies beyond. But the plan only works with the help of Charismites.

The people who love Tristan and Izzie are distraught when they go missing and will do anything to find them. The search party includes Izzie’s mother, Petra, who heads one of the largest media corporations on Earth, and Izzie’s brother, Shakespear, a top producer there. Tristan’s mother, Luscious, has Charismite powers of her own, and his rebel tech head father, Jarat, is a master sleuth.

The two families don’t have much to go on until a feisty, street-wise teen, Cheeta, discovers clues about the Charismites within a strange metaverse filled with millions of missing messages. But will they actually find them? And can they destroy The Fist before they take over the planet?

Filled with an eclectic cast of characters, a slow-burn romance, humor, and wonderful descriptions of a sensual and sometimes violent world, Universe of Lost Messages will leave readers on the edge of their seats. It is a stand-alone sequel to Janet Stilson’s beloved novel, The Juice. Fans of William Gibson, Margaret Atwood, dystopian novels and science fiction thriller books will devour this masterful adventure.


"A deliberately paced, engrossing tale set in a politically motivated, tech-heavy universe ... Believable technology (e.g., security bots and decidedly more vicious spider bots) makes this an engaging, plausible future world." -- Kirkus Reviews

"With Universe of Lost Messages Stilson shows herself to be one of the very best of new SF writers. This is a terrific thriller but it's also a deeply incisive political novel, holding up a mirror to our celebrity-obsessed culture. The dangers Stilson writes about are set in the future, but they may be just around the corner. An original, vibrant, entertaining, and thrilling work of fiction." – Jonathan Oliver, multi-award winning editor and the author ofThe Language of Beasts.

"Stilson has done an amazing job building a futuristic, unique world, with descriptions that drop you right in, and believable characters. I love the world that’s been built – the robots, the tech, the Charismites ...  The story itself moves along at a good pace, and there’s rarely a dull moment. You’ll find it hard to put this down once you start, as the characters, tension, and twists will keep you captivated from cover to cover. – Liliyana Shadowlyn, The Faerie Review   

"I loved the style in which Janet Stilson writes. I was engaged and pulled in straight away just as if I had been touched by a Charismite. The way she constructed the narrative and first-person dialogue reminded me of such iconic crime fiction written by the unsurpassed Raymond Chandler ..I discerned another science fiction writer’s shadowy presence in this story concerning the future of political democracy and the threat to the truth — that we are already in a fight to preserve — the master of the upside down, Philip K. Dick.” – Marc Barham, Counter Arts

"In this well written 'OUT OF THIS WORLD' science fiction book, Janet Stilson has quite the unique story. This is just such a fantastic satire that deals with politics, and the horrific influence of certain powers, and the use of good and evil ... I highly recommend this thought-provoking and suspenseful book. – Linda's Book Obsession

“This was a fun, fast-paced story that is perfect for dystopian, and science fiction fans. Satisfying from start to finish, it’s a book you’ll get lost in, savor, and will be glad you read.” — The Read Rat (Kim Layman) 

“I really adored Cheeta, the street-wise teen, and Shake, Izzy’s brother. I was actually sad to see this story end. I’m hoping there’s another book in the works because I would love to see what comes next.” – Karen’s Library

“I went into this one knowing it was the second in a series but it can be read as a standalone. The way the information was described/delivered made it feel like I was not missing anything … I loved how there was a lot of suspense and a couple twists to keep me on the edge of my seat.” – Sarah’s Bookish Reviews

"The entire time I was reading this, I knew it would be a great movie! I was grateful this could be read as a stand-alone, because I didn’t read the first book, however, I’m gonna go and read it asap! It gave me Ready Player One vibes, in the way the entire world was put together." – WeLoveBigBooksAndWeCannotLie

Articles & Interviews

Sci-Fi Talk Podcast Interview - Why Janet wrote the new book, and what might come next.

Writers Digest Article - How writers choose what format is "right" -- short story, novel, film script, TV series -- and Janet's journey exploring different formats for Universe of Lost Messages.

Q&A With Deborah Kalb - How Janet created the world of the novel.

Hasty Book List Article -- One of the authors that Janet finds inspiring, and the character she'd like to be stuck with in an elevator.

Women Writers, Women Books - Q&A with the character Izzie, the world's most famous celebrity, who is abducted by a mysterious organization.

Q&A in Readers Entertainment Magazine - How Janet came up with the idea for a universe filled with lost messages, and why sci-fi is one of her favorite genres.

Fresh Fiction, Q&A with the character Shake, a producer at a huge media company who is determined to crack a life-or-death mystery.

LitHub Article -- Janet recommends eight books written by authors who have also been journalists.



Shakespear's First Chapter, excerpted in What Is That Book About

Everybody’s blind in their own way. But I was stupid blind on that morning, when the splintering, howling, thump thump throbs of music from my sister’s room ended. In the upside-down world that Izabel always created, sweet silence was my morning alarm.

Now, you could say that there was no way for me to guess what was about to happen—that I would drop into a vortex of devastation and the sublime. But fact is, I should have seen the signs. Not all of them, but some of them, some of them weren’t that hard to grasp.

My cranky eyes let in the Los Angeles light, the savage heat ready to lunge like a tiger when I stepped outside. Stumbling into the bathroom, I peered in the mirror at my mottled brown and light face, shock of fine black hair. “Shakespear Cardinale, you talented son of a bitch,” I told myself. “You can sleep while you’re awake.”

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Shakespear's Second Chapter, excerpted by StoreyBookReviews

Tristan’s dark hair was airborne, an angel cloud shining with reflected light. There was usually a sense of openness and wonder about his dark eyes, which turned into an endless blue when he was tremendously excited. He could make even a city rat like me get all mushy about a bumbling beetle. A wet spider web in the forked branches of a tree became a bedazzled raindrop necklace when he talked about it. He saw everything in the woods and fields like a magic child—which I suppose, in a sense, he was.

He mesmerized any unsuspecting human around him. That was one reason why so few were allowed in the compound. My chest swelled with love at the sight of that head. Tris was the closest I’d ever come to a younger brother.

In earlier years, he’d galumph like a puppy through the fields on lazy summer days, excited to show me frogs in a far-off pond that were about to lay eggs. He took me to dens where foxes were nursing their cubs. They never ran away from Tristan.

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Cheeta's First Chapter, excerpted in Amazing Stories

The first time I got sent into the Universe of Lost Messages, it didn’t make sense. I thought somebody had hacked my tech and sent me into some stupid game metaverse. There I was, free-floating in my old shorts and T-shirt in a kind of space-type place. But it was the color of a ripe papaya.

The orange went on and on, like it didn’t have no end. Instead of stars and planets, there were these bubbles. Thousands, maybe millions. Up close, they were the size of soccer balls, and way off in the distance they were these sparkling dots, small as a grain of sand. The surface of the bubbles had colors glinting off them. And I could see a face in each one, jabbering away, although their voices were faint.

“Hey! Is this a joke? What is this place?” I shouted. There wasn’t any answer, just the whispering voices.

Somehow, I knew to hold out a hand, and one of the bubbles floated right into it. I squeezed it. Just had to. There was a little pop, and out of it leaped a full-sized hologram of a woman with tight curls rolled like cigars and a splat of brown stuff on her face. She was holding a dirty white Pomeranian with black eyes and a long pink tongue.

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