KILLING machines, robots and dystopian worlds were the horrifying lyrical fantasies that set a young teenager’s mind alight.

Blurred lines between aliens and humans and a science-fiction future became a fascination for Joseph McCann after falling in love with the lyrics and sounds of Gary Numan. New wave icon Numan penned lyrics and produced albums that would become pivotal in Joe McCann’s formative years and right through his adult life. It was enough to inspire him to write a book of his own based on Numan’s work stemming from one album in particular, released four decades ago.

“Ever since 1979, I’ve been absolutely mad on Gary Numan,” said Joe. “It was that year that he released an album called Replicas, which explored ideas of dystopian science fiction. The lyrics included things like ‘killing machines’ and ‘machine men’ and it was actually very dark with lots of sci-fi elements to it, but I fell in love with it.”

Replicas was the second and final studio album released by the band Tubeway Army, fronted by Numan. The album, which featured the number one hit single, Are Friends ‘Electric’?, gave way to Numan’s “machine” phase of his career and saw him release a two further albums linked by the transmutation of man and machine. His signature electronic sound earned him a cult following of “Numanoids”, enamoured with his unusual android-like stage presence, or lack thereof.

For Darlington father-of-two Joe, Numan’s persona became the muse for a book he unexpectedly began writing after his youngest daughter expressed an interest in becoming an author.

The Northern Echo:

Joe explained: “It actually all started last year when my daughter, Mia, said she wanted to become a writer, an author. She’s 13 and we’ve read a lot of sci-books and I recently read Bird Box to her in the park, which is now on Netflix and popular all over the world. My daughter began writing herself and what she wrote I thought was really good.

“Gary Numan has had about 30 images or incarnations through the years, so we wondered if we could take inspiration from his Replicas era, by drawing on the lyrics and the images so I needed permission to do that. I had a meet and greet with Gary and we discussed it all and he was really pleased with it. We took the book with us and my eldest daughter, Eleanor, actually designed two separate covers for the book. One features a mannequin that’s covered in Gary Numan artwork on quite an industrial background and the other is a collage piece with more sci-fi imagery.

“When I met him, he was so impressed with the artwork and the book itself that he took three copies for himself, his brother John and his wife Gemma.

“That was in July last year and since then, the book has been selling well on Amazon and eBay. From week to week on eBay, the book has actually gone from being the seventh best-selling sci-fi book, to the fifth and then to the third best-selling sci-fi book worldwide. It’s since gone to number one, which is really something.”

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The book is a dark sci-fi horror, exploring how far people will go to protect their future. When the Replican finds himself in “the park”, he doesn’t know why he is outside or who he is. The synopsis of the story continues: “He doesn’t know who he is. What he does know is that he has to get away from the killing machines. As a mysterious man in a long coat, grey hat, smoking a cigarette pursues him across the city, The Replican searches for the truth of who he is. As his memories start to return, he is left with decisions to make and the question, if you were me what would you do? Set in a new world, one where humans are hunted for food and on the brink of extinction.”

Readers have already praised Joe online for his work, describing the read as “clever” and “an absolute must” for Numan fans and thriller junkies alike.

Joe said: “Although it has been well received online, I was told it wouldn’t be sold in ‘traditional’ book shops, however just before Christmas I received confirmation from Waterstones that The Replican would be sold in its stores.

“It’s all really exciting and I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next.

“At the moment, I’m in contact with an artist based in Los Angeles who is very interested in music. She has approached me about an idea of taking the book and trying to pitch it to producers, particularly Netflix. I’ve been asked to produce a video pitch for my book and we will see how agents in America react to it, so it could be another chapter for the book itself.”

  • Joe will be signing copies of The Replican in Darlington’s Waterstones store, at The Cornmill Shopping Centre, between 1pm and 3pm tomorrow, April 6.