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“Moonlit Shadow” is now available in the Leg Iron Books anthology “Christmas Lights and Darks“
For those unable to order via Amazon, a text version of my Christmas-themed story can be found here.
Enjoy. May I wish you all a suitably Merry Christmas and a happy and much better New Year. A video reading will follow shortly.
Finally. I think I’m within three thousand words of completing the first draft of ‘A Falling of Angels’. There’s just a little story detail to add, but the main MSS outline is complete. I’ve written the epilogue style ending, there only remains one last main story thread to tie up in chapter 29 and that’s it. Current word count just over 78,000. Target 80,000 words of drama, mystery and murder set in a post-Ebola, much chillier (At least in the main story location) world, around the year 2050.
This is just my opinion of course, but I feel this MSS is much better than ‘Head of the Beast’ because I’ve spent more narrative time on the interlinked cases my hero finally helps solve, rather than spending too much time building the backstory. When I’m finished today, perhaps even tomorrow, I shall put it aside for a week for a final checkthrough before deciding what to do with the finished product.
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;
- 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.
- 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.
- Resource flow declines further as available resources shrink. More resources are diverted into administration than the general supply chain.
- Administration leaders and their contacts unsustainably divert resources for their own benefit.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
For those who are interested, “The Great Book of Everything” project has begun to evolve legs, so I’ve reorganized the pages a little so that each posted chapter appears in a list linked directly to the parent page. Overnight the bare bones of the tale has grown to just over 2000 words, and the characters are beginning to flesh out.
Other parts will follow as they are written.
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.”
“Really? Aren’t you being a little dishonest now?”
“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?”
“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.”
“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.
I’m in the middle of a story sequence that takes my hero and his not so dumb girlfriend through Rome on their way back to solving the main mystery in ‘A falling of Angels’. In the story, they are being stalked by a Sardinian boy with an unknown agenda. Also in the story, Rome, like so many major cities, is beset by a plague of enforcement cameras and sensors. Much to the annoyance of the public at large, and in response Paul Calvin, mind reading Detective Sergeant.
In response to such a circumstance, I find myself wondering if veiled hats might not make a comeback.
Originally part of ‘Widows weeds’ or to keep direct sunlight off delicate skin, the history of the veiled hat goes back to the 1200’s. Since then, net veils and veiled hats have popped in and out of western fashion for centuries. At present they are perennially popular at events like weddings and funerals, and occasionally as part of a stage outfit. Not so much at street level, but even there appearing more of an upmarket status symbol.
Perhaps using some form of Anti-infra red fabric, or ‘dazzle’ configuration, they might even cross the sex barrier to be adopted by security conscious men. Stranger things have happened.
I’ll write it and see how it feels.
Update: As an alternative, perhaps polarised sunshields might take off. Sun or ski goggles that cover most of the exposed face, or at least the visible brow and cheekbones most facial recognition software relies upon for its efficacy.
See this link for how modern facial recognition software works.
Lot of negative waves at home and day job at present. Angie’s under pressure with a total change of work system and practices, which has a knock on. I’ve been acting as her ‘receptionist’ and fending off some of the time hogs to let her get back in control of her workload. This has eaten into creative writing time.
Walked into evening shift yesterday afternoon to be told we had to be nursemaided off the premises by ‘Security’ from now on because some whack job has been threatening other staff. No idea why, we’re one of the least offensive and most people friendly organisations I’ve ever come across. The problem is; Whack job, obviously what is called a ‘borderline personality’ has extended his threat to everyone else who works in our little office. Our Executive Director is very upset, and I can’t recall the first time I ever heard her swear, but I heard her curse last night. As for the rest of the staff, they’re rattled, which has a bit of a knock-on effect all round.
For myself, I don’t react well to being threatened, even by proxy. Never have. Not unnaturally the hackles go up and get in the way of everything else. I’m usually pretty well controlled, but where petty bullies are concerned I have a tendency to go straight into combat mode. Which rather impacts on the rest of life. Left alone, the stress and anger stains and corrodes the creative impulse. Gets in the way.
As part of a coping strategy, my own anger at being under unjustified threat has been faced down and held up to richly deserved ridicule. This morning I took a time out to corner my own red beast, give him a richly deserved spanking and tell him to play nice. To mind his own business until he’s really needed. Writing about it helps. As for whack job, there’s a handy little article on borderline personalities in the October 2013 issue of Psychology Today, which is getting yet another read through.
Thinking about the threat situation dispassionately, there’s some extra material here. A rich seam of narrative to be mined and refined. In ‘Falling’ my hero has to break up with a slightly goofy and predatory girlfriend, and I think I’ve just found the key to unlock that story element. Where their relationship starts out as a ‘no strings’ kind of deal, it morphs, as these situations are wont to do, into a morass of suspicion and jealousy, which will no doubt end with my hero getting slung out of a very cosy gaff. Well, who’d have thunk it? An extra story layer. Well I never. Inspiration comes from the strangest quarters. My irony meter just went into overload.
Today I am also looking at the ‘Freemen on the Land’ movement, watching videos, examining their philosophy. listening to what they say. Looking at what their opponents say. The reason for this interest, an iteration of their philosophy is putting in an appearance in ‘A Falling of Angels’ where the ‘Freemen’ find themselves as an organising factor in a massive refugee camp. Literally creating their own parallel society, and at the same time both helping and hindering my mind reading detective in his hunt for the killers. However, that’s enough of a giveaway for the moment.