Martyn K Jones

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After a long hiatus, I’ve restarted work on ‘Darkness between the stars’, the third installment of the ‘Stars’ trilogy. There is a problem with the story as it stands, there are too many threads to close, loose story lines going nowhere. Too much happening in real life for me to focus seriously on writing. New job. New responsibilities. Much to learn and teach.

I know ‘Stars’ is a flawed project which needs tearing apart and rebuilding rather than abandoning outright. There is much in it that is good but the whole thing is in need of a serious restructure. Even shortening. But I must finish the whole thing first.

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A long wait….


It’s always a long period between approval and distribution listing times. At the moment I’m twiddling my thumbs and playing with site headers and profile pictures, which I’ve tried to make a little less intimidating. Yes, I’m fully aware that I look like a mildly scary screen villain. The kind that always appears to be having an internal debate between kneecapping or simply throwing his victims into a bottomless pit lined with spikes. If I try to smile it’s even worse, as though I’ve forgotten my chainsaw, but have just happily remembered that there’s a nice rusty old axe out back. The mirror is not my friend.

Despite appearances, in real life I’m a decent enough fellow whose behaviour normally falls within the parameters set for ‘Gentleman‘. Kind to animals, women and children. Courteous, polite and despite often being preoccupied, few unkind thoughts pass unprovoked through my temporal lobes. Any tendency to wickedness on my part is restricted purely to the narrative. Why I’ve ended up looking like the bouncers evil uncle (At least in my own mind) I have not the faintest idea.

No matter. I’m going to try and pick up the narrative threads for the third offering in the ‘Stars’ trilogy over the next week or so. For some reason the story loses its way about sixty thousand words in and there have been too many distractions and divers’ alarums over the past nine months to devote enough processing time to such a large project. Although I will finish ‘Darkness’, it’s only a matter of time and effort.

One other thing that I’m thinking about, apart from doing a course of Neuroscience and its application in marketing, is a new service called iAuthor. Is it worth the candle?

Sometimes it seems that the learning curve is more of an inward spiral.

Updates on Authors Den


Having been working for six solid hours, My Authors Den page has been updated with eBook and paperback links for the following;
Cerberus Conspiracy
‘A Falling of Angels’ eBook Kindle edition
‘Head of the Beast’ paperback

Stars Trilogy
‘The Sky Full of Stars’ eBook
‘Falling through the Stars’ eBook

And an amusing four thousand word festive offering (It’s free!)
‘Happy Christmas Charles!’

My ‘Goodreads’ page will have to wait until this afternoon, as it’s a little more user-fiendish than Authors Den and I am in sore need of a walk and some coffee.

How civilisations fail.


One of the themes I’ve been exploring in the ‘Stars’ series of novels is the nature of civilisation. What makes some thrive and others quickly crumble into the dust. Essentially what changes cause catastrophic failure in any given society.

On a little ramble around the Internet, I came across a number of sources which might help me finish the third volume in the series and tie up all the loose story threads. Having given the matter some thought, I compiled a timeline of six stages. I think they make sense;

  1. Prolonged warfare, dramatic over expansion of administrative function, catastrophic environmental change, destructive social movements, or failure to adapt to any given changes which destabilise the supply chain of resources.
  2. When the supply chain of general resources grows too destabilised, the overall living standard of those who depend upon it declines. Critical infrastructure maintenance also declines while resources are diverted by an administration for non productive purposes.
  3. Resource flow declines further as available resources shrink. More resources are diverted into administration than the general supply chain.
  4. Administration leaders and their contacts unsustainably divert resources for their own benefit.
  5. Increasing authoritarian control and surveillance is required by administration to ensure that the population continues to comply with increased resource reduction / diversion and other constraints.
  6. In the final phase, administration turns against its own people, treating the previously compliant like enemies (Failure of criminal law). A general failure of socio-economic agreements (Failure of civil law) is followed by economic and social collapse, often marked by excessive unrest and riots, capital flight, excessive inflation, and the permanent departure of the most productive.

Note:
By ‘supply chain’ I mean the flow of resources that a civilisation depends upon to flourish; be it the flow of commerce and trade, harvest, processing and use of raw material, or development of the intellectual capital of appropriately skilled people. It may help to think of these items not as things, but as processes. Like a flowing river, not a pond.

In ‘Darkness’ the collapse of Earth rule gives rise to ‘Khan’s rules’ as Suresh Khan and the other newly independent Association world leaders try to hammer out a workable constitution. One of the key items below.

Except in time of declared war, administrative function shall not form a total greater than one quarter of any planetary economy.

By the way, I’ve had to disable comments on most of this sites web pages because of the spam issue. IP blacklisting is also now in place for all comment spam trolling advertisers. Apologies to anyone who has anything to say. Use the ‘contact’ form if you get stuck and I’ll try to respond.

Characters discussing morality


I’ve been playing around with a dark little idea that fills in some backstory detail for the final volume of the Stars Trilogy, which is still far short of its proposed total. The following excerpt is an attempt to throw the light of discourse onto why otherwise cultured and civilised peoples can allow, even rejoice in, terrible things done for their cause. This is a topic which has always fascinated me. See what you think.

“Why did the Gaians insist on using human grown neural cells for their Assault Cyborgs, not artificial neural nets? Why did they have to core out all those millions? Kill all those poor people?”
“Cost. Autonomous neural net manufacturing technology used to be amazingly expensive and glitchy, even as recently as ten years ago. I guess they found it cheaper to just harvest pre grown material for cores. Do the math. A thousand assault units at a hundredth of the cost of a full Biotech AI means you can afford a hundred times as many. Simple. It doesn’t matter that there’s only a twelve percent success rate. To the Gaians that was perfectly acceptable because there were plenty more dissidents where they came from.” Suresh Khan raised a philosophical jet black eyebrow at the newcomer.
“That’s sick. The mere thought makes me want to throw up.”
“Congratulations. That at least proves you’re still human.”
“Considering it was humans that thought it up, that’s not much of a compliment.”
“Not all humans, just a few.”
“That few is too many.”
“You know, it’s amazing how many think that everyone else should think as they do, and given the opportunity would murder millions to make them do so.”
“That’s just cynical rubbish!”
“Look in the mirror and ask yourself the question.”
“Crap!”
“Really? Aren’t you being a little dishonest now?”
“No.”
“The question is this. Given the opportunity to make what you think is the perfect society. Everything exactly what you want it to be, world peace, everyone living in harmony, who would you be willing to kill or have killed?”
“That’s an unfair question! People don’t have to die for a society to become perfect!”
“No it isn’t unfair. It’s actually just about the fairest question there is. There will always be those with a contrary view, and as putative leader, it is your responsibility to manage societies response. Who and how many are you willing to send to your executioners?”
“No-one!”
“Even if they pose a physical threat to your perfect society? Even if they murder and terrorise at will? I’ll ask you again. How will you kill them, and how many are you willing to kill?”
“Well there’s the people who created the Gaian murder machine. Most of them are dead anyway. There’s also the people who gave the orders for Ahmed to be blown out of the sky.”
“And?”
“The people who did the killing and everyone who approved of it.”
“Good answers. Now where would you stop?”
“I don’t know.”
“Now you know why I disapprove of killing.”
“But, but, you’ve killed more Gaian Borg and soldiers than anyone else I know.”
“Did I say I enjoyed it?”
“No, but you’re the one lecturing me on the morality of killing.”
“Have I ever even suggested killing one of our own people?”
“That’s not the same and you know it! What about him? He’s killed more people than anyone in the history of the world.” A quivering finger pointed at Richard, who briefly glanced at the accusing digit before returning to his studying.
“Now you know that this isn’t what this discussion is about. It’s about how many people are you willing to have killed to get what you want?” Suresh sighed and leaned back for a moment, arms folded. “ One death? Ten? A thousand? Ten million?”
“Now you’re being ridiculous.”
“No. It’s a perfectly valid question. How many, and where do you stop?”

Now if only I could find a way to shoehorn it into the current story. Without sounding contrived, that is.

A thought from the idea factory in my head


I was reviewing ‘Darkness’ this morning, and began re-editing a sequence where five of my Asteroid miner characters are getting ready for a new expedition. It got me thinking, what will be the next development in caller ID on cell phones? With software that is capable of reading emotions under development, and I’m sure some form of holographic touch screen in someone else’s ideas file, I thought to myself, what would such an ap look like?

In ‘Darkness’ an E-Avatar is a 3D animated iCell figure that reacts to the callers emotions. When in no-vid mode, the cell phones internal software generates a little figure that mimes, dances and reflects nuances from the callers voice patterns. Animated Gif are already available for cell phones as caller ID avatars, so how long before a more reactive version becomes available? Not just reading micro expressions, but also tonal nuances in a callers voice. Maybe firstly as a 2D version, but as screen technology improves, 3D.

Just a thought. The pace technology is moving, I’m sure I’m not the first to consider the idea. Wonder if the idea isn’t original, but simply a derivation of something I’ve seen before on TV or in a movie?

Unscrambling storylines


After my recent brain fart storm, I find myself scrambling round the MSS of ‘Darkness’ tidying up loose ends. In making one story / character change, I’ve unleashed a cascade effect. While this does not alter the planned ending, it has sent the intermediate story skittering off in a new direction. Whilst this is not a completely unfortunate happenstance, it’s a lot of hard work reading and re-reading to clean up the glitches. Massively time consuming.

All this, day job, and Angie wanting me to help with her Canadian History Teachers course. Just been reading the unit on accounts of first contact in British Columbia by the Simon Fraser expedition, and to be honest it’s so dry I can hardly keep my eyes open. Great cure for insomnia. Although I’d prefer a large whiskey.