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The Alcatraz Coup

A Prequel to the Red Dog Conspiracy

by Patricia Loofbourrow

What if the man you swore to protect ordered you to commit genocide?

Fifteen hundred years after the Catastrophe, Inventor Benjamin Kerr built the domed neo-Edwardian city-state of Bridges in the center of the former U.S. Three hundred years later, Bridges is in trouble. King Taylor Kerr is elderly, the economy is struggling, and corruption is rampant.

Forty years ago, a fence was built outside of the "Pot of Gold" — the city proper — to keep out the growing numbers of homeless. This number has increased to over a hundred thousand, whole generations knowing nothing but life in the tent camps.

Xavier Alcatraz is head of the Palace Guard. When King Taylor is assassinated by his son, who then gives the order to slaughter everyone outside the fence, Xavier must choose between his vows and his conscience, making a choice which will affect Bridges for generations to come.


Set 100 years before the Red Dog Conspiracy series, this dark, violent story brings you a collision of science fiction, steampunk, and war fiction - Downton Abbey meets Black Hawk Down in a city gone mad.

Publisher: Red Dog Press
Cover Artists:
Tropes: Born Hero, Conspiracy, Dystopian Governments, Fellowship, Found Family, Here Comes the Cavalry, Reluctant Hero, Secret Society
Word Count: 43000
Setting: Bridges: a domed city/state in the Merca Federal Union (Earth)
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Tropes: Born Hero, Conspiracy, Dystopian Governments, Fellowship, Found Family, Here Comes the Cavalry, Reluctant Hero, Secret Society
Word Count: 43000
Setting: Bridges: a domed city/state in the Merca Federal Union (Earth)
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Reviews:Margaret McGaffey Fisk on Tales to Tide You Over wrote:

This novella is the prequel to the Red Dog Conspiracy and lives up to the noir feel of those books. It’s a story for the current fans in many ways, and so gives a sense of what happened to bring about the world we find in the rest of the series. At the same time, with an open mind to the bigger picture, I think this is a good introduction to the series as well in that it provides interesting characters making hard decisions at the worst of times.

This story is both heroic and tragic in the way the transition between a corrupt government and a new one usually is. The Alcatraz Coup isn’t about the beginning when Benjamin Kerr created Bridges as an idyllic utopia but rather 300 years later when ideals are tarnished and a greedy heir apparent takes things into his own hands.

There is a price to pay for freedom, but rarely do regular people expect to pay that price. A school teacher’s concern for his students leads him step by step to a path where he must decide whether his own comfort is worth more than what letting the new king have his way will cost.

There are other ordinary folks involved in this coup, a recently widowed mother of one of the students, the single father of two who happens to be the head of the king’s guard, and a runner for the local gang among others. The main players are not special. They are people who care for more than their own selves and are more terrified of what they see the new regime becoming than what it will take to prevent this.

As a fan of the series, it is neat to see how things came together, the transition to control by the families 100 years later, and the origins of some very familiar names, but the tale itself is strong enough to stand on its own, with gut punch moments and twists that keep the story rolling. You do get to see the roots for some of the feuds between families later in the series, and it’s almost painful to know how they came into being.

I enjoyed learning how Bridges became the world as I know it for all the process saddened me. The hows and whys are both true to the culture and to human history while the characters, especially Xavier Alcatraz and Acevedo Spadros were well written. There are sweet spots, endearing interactions, and horrifying events throughout. The story never lets you rest easy in how things are going to come round, nor does it provide a simple answer to what is a very delicate proposition of getting people largely concerned for their own welfare to help. And all this while the king is becoming not just a tyrant, but one willing to slaughter hundreds just to have a scapegoat for the changes he wants to take place.

A powerful tale with more than a few uncomfortable life lessons mixed in.

P.S. I received this title from the author in return for an honest review.

Lene Blackthorn on Goodreads wrote:

Although I have read the book a while ago, I could still feel the aftermath of the story. It leaves great impression.

In a domed city, the King is old, his lead weak, and the people struggle with their lives. When the king is murdered by his son, a mad prince Polansky, nothing good might come from his rule. Meanwhile, Acevedo Spadros, a history teacher, takes his class out for a trip. Even his private life is changed by one of his students, Molly - or, better to say, by her mother Katherine. One of Acevedo's former students, Xavier Alcatraz, is now head of the king's guard, and supposed to protect the ruler. But when his friends and fellow guards start to show up dead, he knows something's off - and after hearing the horrific demands from the prince, he feels the doom coming.

This is a great introduction to the whole Red Dog Conspiracy series. It provides and insight to the history of bridges and presents the later ruling families - where they come from and how they ascended. With intriguing storytelling, fast development, surprising twists, and stunning world building, this dystopian novella is destined to catch the reader's attention and provides motivation to grab the main series. The main characters, especially Acevedo and Xavier, are brilliantly written, realistic, charming, strong, and full of ideals lost in the cruel world. With lots of suspense and action, delicate relationships, and terrifying events happening around, the book makes for a chilling reading experience, much to think about the consequences of our desires and the ways to reach our goals. It puts humanity under scrutiny of what good and evil we are capable of.

I read the ARC of the book and all opinions are my own.

The Alcatraz Coup takes place 100 years before The Jacq of Spades. It has no spoilers for the Red Dog Conspiracy steampunk noir series and can be read at any time.

About the Author

Patricia Loofbourrow, MD is a NY Times and USA Today best-selling SFF and non-fiction writer, PC gamer, ornamental food gardener, fiber artist, and wildcrafter who loves power tools, dancing, genetics and anything to do with outer space. She was born in southern California and has lived in Chicago and Tokyo. She currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three grown children.