Dawn at the Royal Star
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|Cover artist||Katie Webb|
|August 14, 2011|
Dawn at the Royal Star is a 2011 science fiction novel by Canadian writer Jeff Sinasac. It was published as a Kindle E-book by Amazon on August 14, 2011. The novel takes place entirely within the fictional Royal Star hotel in downtown Toronto, Canada and surrounds the plight of some 500 hotel patrons who awake one morning to find that the entire world beyond their hotel is frozen in time, and that they have no way to leave.
The Royal Star Hotel in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is an upscale hotel, named for the fact that it is commonly used as accommodation by visiting royalty and dignitaries. On November 25, when the book opens, the hotel is expecting several prominent guests: Eddy Woods - an emerging celebrity in the computer industry, Carl Fennig - creator of an internationally successful porn magazine called Joie, Linda Gasset - famed romance novelist, and Gordon Passel - the Secretary of Defense for the United States of America. The hotel is simultaneously playing host to more than four hundred regular guests as well, plus around 50 hotel staff. Two of the hotel custodial staff, Manny and Grape, seem particularly interested in the arrival of the high profile guests.
At roughly 7:00 the next morning, the strange phenomena set in. One by one the hotel guests begin to realize that the world beyond their hotel seems to have stopped in time. The sun is no longer rising. Birds and airplanes visible through windows are frozen in mid-flight. People on the street outside are stopped in mid-stride. No exit can be found from the hotel - doors won't open to the outside, and even windows prove unbreakable. For some reason, all clocks and watches within the hotel have stopped. Cameras no longer function. But despite the seemingly timeless nature of everything outside the hotel, the power within remains on, and the water is still flowing, even though both of these should be supplied from sources without the hotel. As Eddy Woods points out, the photons are still flying out there too, because everything is still visible from within the hotel, though presumably the primary light source - the sun - has stopped functioning.
A panic ensues, and Gordon Passel is forced to restore calm. Over the ensuing days, he forms a committee of handpicked persons who meet regularly in the Upper Canada Room to try to solve the problem. The group is jokingly referred to as The Upper Canada Refugees. They analyze the clues before them, attempt various means to break out, as well as attending to the more immediate and mundane problems of food rationing, oxygen conservation and keeping morale up amongst the population.
Carl Fennig, though a self-appointed member of this committee, eventually proves problematic for the group. Jealous of Gordon's position, and growing increasingly crazy and despondent, he rallies about a third of the hotel population to splinter off into their own group. Carl's group secludes itself on the seventeenth and eighteenth floors of the hotel - the most luxurious of the accommodations. From there they choose to ignore the mandates of the rest of the hotel, even going so far as to override the rationing system put in place, and distribute food freely and lavishly amongst themselves.
Tensions build to the point of literal war, with two sides arming themselves from behind their respective barricades. And all the while, the two people in the hotel who do know what's going on - Manny and Grape - try to conceal the truth to save their own hides.
- Manuel Delitta / Manny – A young, short, Filipino man who works on the custodial staff of the Royal Star. His primary duties include looking after the parking garages, though he has recently been tasked with hauling away the detritus from the Royal Star basements, as well. He is crass and cunning, attracted to older women and women in tears, particularly. He is the best friend of Bobby Turtle, with whom he shares a terrible secret.
- Bobby Turtle / Grape – A tall, well built, beautiful, but slow-witted man who works on the custodial staff of the Royal Star. He has long been in love with front desk worker, Stephanie Lai, though is too shy to share his feelings. Along with his best friend, Manny, he hides a horrible secret of crimes he has committed, though unlike Manny, as he comes to the full realization of the impact of those crimes, he feels remorse.
- Rick Stickford – The hotel manager, he is thin, incredibly uptight, militaristic and balletic at the same time. He's also gay, though is terrified of how the world will react if it should ever learn this. He is quick to pawn off his own work on others, though is capable of doing a great deal when he steps up to the plate.
- Stephanie Lai – First generation Canadian, her parents are both immigrants from China. She speaks English with no trace of an accent, though speaks fluent Cantonese as well. She is incredibly hard working, constantly putting the needs of others ahead of her own. She works the front desk of the Royal Star and harbors secret feelings for Bobby Turtle.
- Mary Bolther – Middle-aged, failing star of the stage, Mary Bolther is a musical theatre performer past her prime. Suffering from drug and alcohol problems, she flushed a flourishing career down the toilet, though she has recently been given the opportunity for a comeback in a new musical called Fragrance and Blade, playing at the Royal Alexander Theatre. She comes to the Royal Star with her young lover, Jeff Reynold, though he abandons her there when he discovers she's just been fired from the show, after a return to drinking. She attempts to suicide by swallowing excessive Valium, but is rescued when Eddy Woods and Hal Tanner, sent by Gordon Passel to look for stragglers, discover her, unconscious, on her hotel bed.
- Eddy Woods – Eighteen years old, Eddy has found himself thrust into the limelight by his invention of TLG or Through the Looking Glass, a computer operating system capable of running software from any platform that's ever existed with minimal memory loss. Tall, gangly and ridiculously shy, he loathes the fuss made over him since his celebrity. After meeting Amanda in the hotel bar, he develops powerful feelings for her, though these are eventually supplanted by his feelings for Nikki.
- Hal Tanner – Eddy's middle-aged guardian, chauffeur and friend. Hal is a black man from Edmonton, Alberta. He is religious, friendly and brave. He eventually falls in love with Amanda, driving a rift between himself and Eddy.
- Cam Lecthern – A middle-aged, red bearded carpet salesman from Detroit, Michigan, Cam is intensely racist in his views towards blacks. He has secretly smuggled a revolver into Canada, a protection he has carried ever since he was attacked outside the Fox Theatre in Detroit. He eventually befriends Stephen Laofing and develops a hateful feud with Hal Tanner. He becomes a staunch supporter of Carl Fennig when that man splinters the hotel patrons.
- Linda Gasset – Famed romance novelist, Linda is a native of Fort McMurray, Alberta, though she's spent the last many years living in London, England. She is visiting Toronto pending a book signing for her newest novel. She develops an immediate crush on Bobby Turtle, though this will later conflict with her growing feelings for Richard Elliot.
- Amanda – 25 years old, beautiful and fresh faced, Amanda works at Crooner's, the karaoke bar adjoining the Royal Star. She is bribed by Rick Stickford into working as a waitress for a very early private breakfast for Gordon Passel and his retinue, which is how she comes to be in the hotel when everything goes down. She is charmed by Hal Tanner's attempts to stay optimistic and eventually falls in love with him.
- Steven Laofing – 10 years old, Steven Laofing is staying in the Royal Star with his parents and sister, Jenny. Like Stephanie, he speaks fluent English, though his mother is confined to her native Cantonese. His younger sister was born prematurely, and nearly died. Since then, Steven's parents, especially his father, have lavished most of their attention on Jenny, leaving Steven feeling alone. This sense of isolation leads him to befriend Cam Lecthern after aiding that man by tending a head injury, and later with Richard Elliot, with whom he shares a love of space opera.
- Richard Elliot – is a blind man, traveling with his seeing-eye dog, Beacon. Though from Vancouver, British Columbia, he is in Toronto to visit his brother. Richard used to operate a small press science fiction magazine with his brother, but when his brother got married and moved to Toronto, the magazine folded. Richard was angry enough that he skipped the wedding entirely, and has come to make amends. Though he projects a disdain toward Linda Gasset, professing that romance is little more than porn, he eventually develops deep feelings for her.
- Martin – is a young front desk worker at the Royal Star. He is friendly, though he doesn't take his responsibilities as seriously as Stephanie. He is openly gay, and in a relationship with another Royal Star worker named Robbie, though Robbie isn't in the hotel at the time everything takes place.
- Joel Golinkin – A middle-aged, Jewish pediatrician from Montreal, Quebec, Joel has traveled to Toronto with his wife, Rachel, to visit Sick Kids Hospital before making a decision as to whether or not to take a new job there. He is a very compassionate man, but also a pragmatist, not afraid to make the hard calls when need be. The hotel comes to rely on him not only for medical support, but also for his clear cut view of things. He tries to find support for himself from his wife, but finds her increasingly absent.
- Rachel Golinkin – Rachel is Joel's wife. She comes from a wealthy background where she idolized her father. She has a low tolerance for change, and finds the prospect of moving to Toronto stressful even before the phenomena kick in. After the panic in the hotel she tries again and again to cling to her husband and keep him locked away with her in their hotel room, but his oath won't let him ignore the medical needs of the others in the hotel. Feeling increasingly disaffected, she eventually turns to Manuel Delitta for friendship and romance.
- Carl Fennig – A boisterous, overweight American, Carl is the creator of Joie, an internationally successful porn magazine that burst onto the scene three years ago. He has come to Toronto with three of the models from the most recent issue, for a media blitz as the magazine premieres in Canada. He is very smart, but obnoxious, violent and easily threatened. When he grows jealous of Gordon Passel's position, he eventually rallies about a third of the hotel population to splinter off and form their own community in the upper reaches of the hotel. From there he proves that he's willing do anything - even kill - to maintain his newfound authority and to not have to face the hard realities of the situation everyone finds themselves in.
- Joy-Ann Blizniak – A beautiful, brunette model for Joie magazine, and Carl's lover. She is loyal to Carl out of fear both of him and of the situation around them.
- Emma – A beautiful, red headed model for Joie magazine, Emma's loyalties are confused. She is a simple girl who wants to do the right thing, but is easily swayed by the semblance of authority.
- Nikki – A beautiful, blonde model for Joie magazine, Nikki is very smart. She got into nude modeling and eventually porn to fund her way through College. She is immediately attracted to Eddy's brilliance and eventually falls in love with him, coming to serve as a moral compass for him when his own path gets blurred by jealousy and fear.
- Gordon Passel – Secretary of Defense for the United States. Gordon has traveled to Canada without his wife or two daughters, though he constantly thinks about them. He is visiting Canada with his retinue to give a formal explanation and apology after a lapse in intelligence sharing led to the deaths of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. He is the unofficial leader of the lower half of the hotel, but leads through careful counsel sought from multiple parties. He is diplomatic, smart, and usually collected.
- Elaine Montgomery – General Counsel. She is a part of Gordon's retinue. She is blonde and middle-aged. She comes to develop strong feelings for Joel Golinkin, though is not sure how to express them, given he is married.
- Mike Timmins – Assistant Secretary of Defense in charge of Public Relations. He is also a part of Gordon's group, but when he is left out of the Upper Canada Refugees, he is angry, and ends up joining Carl Fenning in the upper part of the hotel.
- Tom Yates – ExecSec. Like Mike Timmins, he is a part of Gordon's group, but joins up with Carl out of a sense of betrayal, when he is not asked to join The Upper Canada Refugees - the group that quietly meets to decide next-steps in the hotel.
- Mike Waters – One of Gordon's security detail, he is big and muscular. As a security officer, he is one of only three persons who enter the hotel armed, the others being Cam Lecthern and Roger.
- Roger – Another of Gordon's security detail, Roger eventually joins up with Carl Fennig.
- George Nedeneau – An elderly man celebrating his fiftieth wedding anniversary at the Royal Star with his wife, Melanie. After Melanie is killed during the initial riot when the hotel first realizes what's going on, George becomes increasingly isolated and despondent, eventually attempting suicide. He is kept under a watchful gaze thereafter by the hotel's other failed suicide, Mary Bolther.
- Barry Upstrine – An overweight hotel patron, staying with his daughter, Helen. He eventually serves as the head guard for the hotel's food supplies.
- The Narrator – An unnamed, undescribed character only present in the book's prologue and epilogue. He addresses the reader directly and in the present tense, unlike the rest of the book which is written in third person, past tense.