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by Michele Lang

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A young woman desperate to prove her worth in her family's dynastic company travels to a faraway colony and finds herself joining the Robin Hood-like rebels outside of civilization.


A young woman desperate to prove her worth in her family's dynastic company travels to a faraway colony and finds herself joining the Robin Hood-like rebels outside of civilization.

Editorial Reviews

PNR Reviews - Leslie Tramposch
For those who love sci-fi classics like Brave New World, Tron, and The Matrix this book will thrill and chill. Netherwood is a riveting action adventure romance that will draw the reader in and make them a part of the battle to save our humanity. A truly excellent read.
The Huntress Reviews - Amanda Killgore
Ms. Lang's writing has always been superb....she is light years ahead of the game.

Product Details

Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Shomi Series
Product dimensions:
4.27(w) x 6.83(h) x 0.87(d)

Read an Excerpt

The sound of tanned leather tearing through the cotton-white net was the only noise, at least for me, in the sold-out Amway Arena in Orlando, the home of the Magic. It was February of 1992, during the final round of the three-point contest at All-Star weekend. I won the competition the previous two years—in 1990 in Miami, and 1991 in Charlotte—wearing number 14 on my red and black Bulls home jersey. Larry Doby wore #14 too. After Jackie Robinson, Doby was the second Black baseball player to sign a contract for a Major League team. My Grandad loved Doby.

The clock is running down as I reach for the next twenty-two ounce ball resting on the metal rack. My body feels like it is on auto pilot: the right wrist cocks, feet fall in shoulder-width apart, eyes zero-in two inches above the center of the hoop, my right elbow tucks tight into my torso as I jump. Its almost like I’m watching the whole thing from above. The basketball rises through the middle of the chin and over my head, my arms extend fully, the ball rolls off spread fingers at release, and my palm collapses in follow through. My white and red LA Gear shoes—they were fresh in the early 90’s—fall back to the hardwood. There is an instant of silence…I hear the swish. The shooting continues.

In fluid, rapid, regular succession the NBA branded basketballs soar high above the red, pronged, metal rim, to peak and fall at the perfect height. Good arc optimizes the size of the target. My math is correct every time but I don’t think about it. My body understood the equation deep below my black skin. Starting at twenty-two feet from the post in the corner of the court, and increasing to twenty-three feet nine inches at the farthest of the five points where each rack of balls stood, I shuttle around the perimeter. The number of made shots creeps higher, but I don’t count because there are no past or future shots; there is only the one I’m shooting in that moment, and I’m hardly missing.

Jim Les, a point-guard from Don Sterling’s Sacramento King’s—the franchise that drafted me—was up next. For a moment I thought he would win. I’ve had better rounds in the three-point contest: like the time I went twenty-five for thirty in 1986—only Stephen Curry has done better. Or when I made nineteen in a row in 1991—a record that still stands. Les finished with one less point than I did. He almost beat me with the red, white, and blue double-point money ball on the final shot, but he didn’t. I scored sixteen of a possible thirty shots in the final round, winning my third-straight three-point contest at All-Star weekend. The only other person to win three-straight three-point competitions was the legendary Larry Bird.

I held the life-sized gold basketball trophy high above my head on the painted black and blue Orlando court, wearing a black nylon jacket with the words “UNITE” printed in all capped gold lettering on the back. Operation Save the Youth was an organization I started with Chuck D., Queen Latifah, and others. Our goal was to use our entertainment platforms to bring economic and racial justice to the Black community. Now all I could hear was the applause of the crowd. I felt taller than the highest point in the stadium. I was on top of the world, so why not help save it, I thought.

Back in Chicago, after winning the contest, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Michael Jordan and I were sitting in cushy white chairs in the home locker room in the old Chicago stadium before a game. We were on track to win our second-straight championship. A mail courier arrived and walked over to me with a white envelope. I tore it open, and looked down to see the $20,000 three-point contest prize. The check equaled half my entire salary the very first year I entered the league in 1982. I stared at the green bank paper for a minute. I wasn’t the richest person in the room by a long shot, but I was comfortable. I lived in a safe and beautiful house in the north shore of the Chicago-land area. Financially, I had come a long way since my days living in the poor and segregated neighborhood of Chicago Heights, Illinois as a kid. I stood up and walked to the center of the room. I dropped the check and it fluttered down to the floor. “Whose with me?” I said. Everyone stared. “What are we going to do?“ I continued. The money resting in the bank accounts of the players in that locker room most definitely exceeded Martin Luther King’s entire Civil Rights budget. We had a platform. We could make a difference. Right outside Chicago Stadium’s doors, on the West side of one of the largest cities in the US, you could see it: the ruthless poverty, the stark inequality, the institutionalized racism. The plight of Black people in the US haunted me my whole life. Now I was in a position to make a lasting difference. Every player in that room was in a position to make a difference.

“So what do you want to do Hodge?” Someone said. We could make a commercial, buy a few billboards. Better yet, we could hold press conferences amidst the blight with the community behind us. Even better than that we could help bring jobs to our community, I said. Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike was paying people in Southeast Asia pennies on the dollar to manufacture the kind of shoes we were all wearing. Shoes that kids were dying in the streets over. Why not let the community that was buying these products produce them, and then share the profits equally. This was my plan. We could pool our money and start something. Sure, we all had our private charities that our accountants and financial advisors set up for us. There are tax benefits for those things.

“I hear where your coming from, Hodge, but I gotta talk to my guy first,” was the prevailing, polite, yet dismissive response in that locker room. We were winning championships together. We didn’t need to consult our guys, did we? Besides, these accountants and finance guys had no direct interest in the betterment of the Black community. Of course they would discourage this type of action. But why was there such a reflex for permission asking in the first place? Well, I knew the answer but I was still disappointed. I was a Black studies major in college. I knew that Black people, even the wealthiest of us, have been conditioned to wait for the white man to sign off on our movements. Even in the NBA, helping Black people could never be a public thing. It had to happen in secret. We were discouraged from upsetting the order of things. So there was little open talk about race and racism.

I dropped the check on the ground less as a call for charity and more to inspire organization amongst some of the most powerful Black voices in the country. Also, to empower each of us to feel like we had real agency as human beings. We were more than just athletes if we wanted to be. We could be freedom fighters too. We had one of the greatest basketball players to step on an NBA court on our team—Michael Jordan. In some polls Jordan’s popularity exceeded that of the Pope. If the Bulls spoke in a collective voice the world would listen. Sure, we were no substitute for grass roots collective action but maybe, I thought, we could trigger something.

I envisioned the Chicago Bulls making history in the most meaningful way possible: by fighting for justice. We’d question the entire system together. Imagine if the World Champion Chicago Bulls asked the people in the Black neighborhoods—neighborhoods nearly all of us all came from—to start questioning the roots of racism and then to pour into the streets to rise up against economic inequality. We could all be on the front lines of the second Civil Rights movement in the US, fighting the New Jim Crow, as Michelle Alexander termed it. Maybe I was being naïve. Certainly a lot of people, including most, if not all of the players sitting in that locker room believed I had my head in the clouds. Is fighting justice naïve? Those who run things would love poor and working class Blacks, as well as poor and working class whites, to think so. But I had seen change. My mom and aunts, through their own organizing and activism working alongside Dr. Martin Luther King in the 60’s, first exposed me to possibility of real, liberating, change for Black people. It was the type of change I wanted to promote too, hopefully with, but if necessary without my teammates.

Meet the Author

Michele Lang writes supernatural tales: the stories of witches, lawyers, goddesses, bankers, demons, and other magical creatures hidden in plain sight. She also writes tales of the future, including the apocalyptic adventure NETHERWOOD and other stories set in the Netherwood universe. Author of the LADY LAZARUS historical fantasy series, Michele's most recent book in the series, REBEL ANGELS, released March 2013.
Michele is a lawyer who has practiced the unholy craft of litigation in both New York and Connecticut. She returned to her native New York shortly before 9/11, and now lives in a small town on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband, her sons, and a rotating menagerie of cats, hermit crabs, and butterflies.

To find out more about Michele�s books, visit her on the web at
Visit her on Facebook at

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Netherwood 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Sheriff Talia Fortune is the prime owner of FortuneCorp. Her current assignment combines her law enforcement duties with her role as the head of the mega-corporation. She seeks her Netherwood cyber lover Kovner known as Avenger for his wanton destruction of technological gizmos on the colony Fresh Havens. --- Talia enters the Netherwood cyberspace where she meets Kovner in a forest. She tells him she must arrest him, but he insists the Singularity has begun artificial intelligent computers have superseded humanity as the prime species. If something is not done soon, mankind will become extinct. To succeed he and his band of merry outlaws need Talia on their side, but she hesitates as all he says contradicts all she knows about the Grid and reality. --- NETHERWOOD combines The Matrix with Charlton Heston¿s sci fi end of the world flicks like Planet of the Apes and The Omega Man in a fine thriller. The story line is action-packed from the moment the heroine goes after her ¿terrorist¿ former lover and never slows down until the final confrontation. Fans will appreciate this exciting futuristic science fiction in which Fresh Haven and Netherwood seem real and the extinction plausible, but the lead couple never comes across as more than just comic book heroes trying to save a way of life 'just who¿s is the question'. --- Harriet Klausner