I decided to give Under the Electric Sun a brand new cover and discard the illustrations. The previous cover, and all the brightly colored pictures, gave the impression that it was a book for young children. It’s actually a dark, gritty novel aimed at young adults. So I thought it was a good idea to “repackage” it. (I’m not trashing children’s books at all, by the way. I love them. I just felt like people were looking at the old cover and saying, “Oh, that must be a kiddie book.”)
I also wrote a new summary:
Tristan is a government-issued tutor. Even though he is an android, he was designed to look like a raccoon. With synthetic fur and rubber paws, he could easily be mistaken for a real raccoon — but, unlike an ordinary animal, Tristan is able to talk and give history lessons. His last student frequently insulted him, abused him, and swung him around by his tail. Thus, the electronic raccoon has developed a cynical attitude about life. Fortunately, Tristan’s current student is a kind, gentle young man named Jake Sheldon. Tristan and Jake live in a high-tech city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. People have lived in the underground city ever since a nuclear war poisoned the surface nearly a hundred years ago.
One afternoon, Tristan and Jake visit Bailey Park, a large room filled with plastic trees and tiny speakers that play birdsongs. As they sprawl out in the synthetic grass, an alien visitor approaches them and says he has studied Earth for a long time. After informing Tristan and Jake that it’s safe to live on the surface, the alien leads them on a journey up a long staircase. While the electronic raccoon and his student are delighted to see real trees and sunlight, their lives quickly become more complicated than they ever could have imagined. As they taste freedom for the first time, they also suffer immense pain and tragedy.
You can click here to download a copy.