WASHINGTON, D.C.—It's the near future, and "reality TV," with the unspoken acquiescence of the federal government, is taking the "reality" part to new depths, er, heights. Producer Bud Livingston maroons seven misfits on an island in the middle of Lake Superior, where the group has to survive for seven months (including a bitter cold winter) on whatever food they can scrounge up from the lake and the island's forest. Meanwhile, everything the group members do is captured on multiple cameras and microphones, while an aerial drone circles overhead to record whatever the cameras on the island miss.
That's the starting point for Adam & Eve founder Phil Harvey's first novel, Show Time, a near-apocalyptic look at American culture that draws slightly on The Hunger Games, except that where Hunger Games participants are required to kill their opponents, Harvey's group is merely encouraged to be violent—and sexual—with the islanders' edgy personalities supplying all the impetus they need to (possibly) do each other in.
"The seven of them have to get along, and they have to be entertaining; they are on camera all the time," Harvey explained in an exclusive interview. "They manage to knock out some of the cameras but they know they can't knock them all out, and there's a drone flying periodically overhead which picks up any action the other cameras might miss. The theory is, if they knock out the cameras, they might have a little privacy and be able to talk more freely about their feelings concerning the producers of the show and the warmongering tendencies of the government of the United States.
"Eventually, they work out a clean zone, a secluded spot on the island where they cut down all the trees and there's nowhere for microphones to be hidden in," he continued, "and between the drone passings, they're able to plot some plots of their own to attempt to fool both the producers of the show and the audience—but in a way that will boost ratings, because they know that they're going to get bonuses if the ratings on the show remain good. So in addition to having to survive with very little food, they have to perform, and they understand that, and the combination of the performing and surviving and the relationships among these characters is what makes the book go."
Of course, what would a novel from one of the adult industry's greatest icons be without sex?
"The sexual centerpiece of the book is one absolutely gorgeous redhead named Maureen," Harvey explained. "She's been included deliberately to set up competition and violence and fights among the men, and that occurs occasionally. Maureen enjoys sunning herself in the nude on the beach, and pretends that the cameras can't see her there, but of course they can. And one of the subplots has a young man in Saudi Arabia falling in love with her because he's got excellent computer equipment that enables him to sense a good deal more of this woman's texture than you would ordinarily expect on a TV screen. So she's got a lot of fans."
While most fans of the show are stuck with watching each week's one-hour compilation of the happenings on the island, those who want that "texture" and more can pay a hefty fee to subscribe to live camera feeds 24 hours a day—which leads to the formation of viewer "clubs" that root for one player or another ... or, for instance, just watch an islander named Ashai, who, according to Harvey, "does some rather interesting exercises in a particular spot in the woods. She's a very athletic, bisexual woman, and with her tai chi exercises, which is what I would call them, she gets a big following because of the way she performs in her underwear."
Besides Maureen and Ashai, readers will find a gambling addict, an "unpredictable" black man, an ex-Navy SEAL, and a psychologically-damaged Valentín, all of whom interact in sometimes-violent but always unexpected ways.
"Researching this book was fun," Harvey said. "I traveled to Isle Royale in Lake Superior. That includes a four-hour boat ride. Isle Royale is our least-visited national park, and there are wolves and moose (which you don’t often see) and a lot of other animals. I wandered to get a feel for the book’s setting. I remember crossing a meadow near the rocky shore and kicking up a huge cloud of grasshoppers. The noise made me jump. I put that in the book."
Sound just perfect for big-screen treatment? Harvey hasn't received any offers for it yet—after all, it's only just been released—but if you're interested in checking it out, click here or here to order the paperback or e-book versions. Retailers who wish to stock the book can click here and select "Bookstore Discounts" from the list on the left.
UPDATE: Show Time's publisher, Lost Coast Press, has released an excerpt from the book, which can be found here.