California is burning up in wildfires and the continent’s other corners are washing away in floods. California proclaims Calexit and breaks off from the rest of the United States to form the New California Independent Republic. In 2020, it sounds like just another month; but in reality, it’s the premise for Stockton native Ed Bonilla’s first published novel, 5 Clones.
The school teacher who helps kids who have faced expulsion from Lincoln Unified School District at his school, Civic Pride Independent Academy, started writing 5 Clones in 2012 after Stockton declared bankruptcy. He took the idea that Stockton was the worst city and flipped it on its head, challenging himself to write a book where Stockton plays hero.
Throughout the futuristic science fiction novel, Stockton makes several appearances. The story’s climax even takes place at the Children’s Museum of Stockton. Stockton “would transform from the place where housing wasn’t worth anything, to the place where everyone in the world wanted to be,” Ed says.
The novel interweaves several stories and complex characters as Dr. Abraha Tadese discovers a way to save the world from climate change. There is also an advanced technological side introduced through the characters’ mute clones, created to assist with menial tasks in a not-too-distant future. The main protagonist is Jack Daniel Martinez, based on a beloved former student of Ed’s, Jocelyn resembles a former girlfriend, the counselor at Civic Pride is projected in Trevor, and Walt bears a resemblance to Ed’s best friend’s stepdad.
In addition to climate change and the post-apocalyptic craze that is certainly beginning to feel more like a real possibility and less of a fictional future, 5 Clones also focuses on anti-racism. “One of the major characters is so devoutly antiracist that he will violently fight anyone who believes otherwise,” Ed says. Needless to say, the book’s themes are timely.
The journey to getting published wasn’t quick. Ed racked up north of 50 rejections. But what kind of teacher would Ed Bonilla be if he let rejection force him to quit? Luckily for all of us, he rebounded spectacularly, and Montag Press, a niche publisher in San Francisco, decided to take a chance on him. A local, cult following ensured the book’s availability at the Stockton Barnes & Noble, as well as its Dublin location. It’s also available on Amazon and Sacramento’s Phono Select Records sells signed copies.. A theme song to the book is free on YouTube and Spotify, created by one of Ed’s three bands, Radical Times.
Get a Copy:
Barnes & Noble
Weberstown Mall, Stockton
Hear the song: