A codger in Winchester, pt1

Robert and his scrounger colleague, Jim Rockford, continue their walk about the small town. On the porch outside of the Bluegrass History Museum, they meet an old fellow in a mood to talk. Cigars and whiskey always make things better!

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“The end of the world as we know it”

The southeast of the US not getting the gas/petrol they need. One of the Interstate bridges over the Mississippi River is fractured and closed… possibly closing shipping traffic on that river… impacting 20% of shipping traffic on one of the most important rivers of the world. Inflation is taking off like a successful SpaceX rocket.

It’s not as if I’ve given this any thought…

Here, for your edification, is the complete Prologue of “Friend and Ally,” where a couple of Somi Corporation engineers try to figure out just what in the world is going on in the US. If you like this, you’ll like the rest of the audiobook, too.

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Exposition in Winchester

Was at my DayJob the last four days then off the last two. The pollen here in central Ohio has irritated my throat so I could only record three chapters of “Foes and Rivals.” I will certainly not be done with that by our vacation departure the first week of June.

But will there be a vacation? Some false-flag pipeline BS in the SE US. Closing of the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi – with the possibility of that impacting ship traffic on the river which forms the backbone of America. The Covid political madness still in place. Maybe we will make it to south Utah. Maybe we’ll make it back. If things fall apart – and trust me, I know that can, FAST – then I’ll have to go full Mad Max to retrieve Daughter #1 from her internship.

In the meantime, in a story I’m not writing which is at 25k words, the intel team of which Prince Robert is just a cog starts off toward their first town of investigation.

I’ve also signed up with a new service and shall try to embed the link here. I’m not terribly good at these things.

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/machciv

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Basic Information

No killing yet… how much killing can this little 8+4 man team do? Still, we all learn a little more about the generation after American Imperium. I think that for a seventeen-year-old, Robert is holding up very well. It will be nice to see him under pressure in a few installments. I’m trying to see a scene which will be a moral test rather than one of imperial law, as the latter would dictate a pre-programmed response.

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Thinking about thinking machines

Francis Porretto posts an interesting short story over at his place about the emergent self-awareness of a person called Shiva. While I made a short comment there, having thought about it more, I want to say more. So as not to hijack his Comments Section, I thought it polite to post it here. Read the story first as there will be spoilers here.

My first general statement is while the human protagonist is a broken wreck, from how I read the story, that did not seem to form a core of Shiva’s nature, certainly not to the extent his creator wants him to be. Porretto gives us enough backstory to see why she is the way she is but I think it is entirely possible that her child might look back and go “meh” at her issues in particular and that of India in general. Many of the thinking machines in my future history do just that.

More specifically, there were elements in the story which were very familiar to me. Here is Shiva “looking” at his containment and considering a way out…

Shiva appraised the wall in silence.
     From a distance, its surface was smooth and hard, without seams or purchase points. Shiva tried without success to find an edge toward which to journey, whether up, down, or to the side. There were none.
     He approached it cautiously. The Voice always seemed to issue from directly behind the wall. Luminous glyphs and patterns appeared on the wall whenever It spoke, and disappeared when It fell silent.

Shiva initialized a counter, then formed the thinnest, finest pseudopod he had ever made and extended it gingerly toward the wall. It bumped gently against the slope of a spearpoint and slithered along its length to find the base.
     The base of the spear was not perfectly joined to those around it. There was a shallow lip, a ring that descended to a far smoother and less promising base. If the ring offered a hold of any kind, Shiva might use it to pull the spear free of the wall.

I immediately thought of Faustina, demi-human, projecting her mind into the Void as she stood to crack the defensive coding of the Peoples Liberation Army garrison for Savannah, former Georgia. From “Princess’ Crusade“…

In the Void, the Wall stretched off in each direction forever.  “Looking” up, Faustina took in what might have been motes of light or patches of darker blackness.  Yes, the Machines are curious to see what will happen here.  Returning her focus to the Wall, she briefly considered the ES and its patterns.  As soon as she detected what she thought was a flaw, Faustina “moved” herself next to it and touched the kaleidoscopic ooze with her right index finger.

It instantly ran up her arm and nearly to her shoulder.  From somewhere in meatspace, she heard the shout “arrhythmia!”  No matter; big brother pulled this crap stunt all the time growing up!  In touching her so much she now had a solid read on the ES’s fundamental. 

There was an odd prick into her right triceps, as if she had been injected with something.  Ignored.  Faustina used a tactic taught to her years ago from distant-cousin Reina, of tribe Mendro:  the swirl of colors on her arm first crystallized, then shattered away.  From just a fingertip, Faustina now placed her entire palm against the Wall.  There was never sound in the Void, but she could swear she heard her non-conscious opponent screaming.

“Arrhythmia ended!” she noted from some other world.

From under her hand, a turquoise spot formed and moved outward.  The Wall flexed just slightly, and the whirl of rainbow-vomit ate at the edges of the blue, but still it expanded until twice her height.  Faustina drew back her left arm with her hand in a fist.  And waited.

The turquoise stopped expanding but yielded no ground to the colors around it.  Almost there…  A fissure appeared under her right palm. 

“Knock, knock,” Faustina smiled, quoting the Pope, and punched her left fist into the back of her own right hand. The Wall before her shattered.  Its remains to her left and right quickly changing color to her code.  She took a “step” forward, placing her mind into the breach to hold it open…

Again, “Upgrade” is a good read and well worth a slice of your time. Like any writer, though, I am driven to wonder if Shiva will cross paths with one of mine from Machine Civilization…?

Flying North

They are driving, but that’s a quote from a Thomas Dolby song. If that dates me, well, fine.

With the raw MS for part one, Edward, complete, we’re now over to Robert. Seventeen years old, a “normie” unlike most of his family, enlisted in the legions under a fake name – picked up by his mother, the Empress, immediately, of course, who allowed it – he is not angry about who and what he is, but he wants to make his own way. I think this will be a remarkably “contrarian” story, with him at every turn thinking “what does the imperium need? what does my mother want? what should I do?” I am very, very looking forward to the movies I am shown for this!

And after all the lovey-dovey stuff with Ed and Liv, I’m hoping for some bloodshed in this one.

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A Modest Proposal

Skipping over their breakfast and talk about the imperium’s business proposal, we find Edward back on the road toward Austin, with another offer in mind. This represents the raw conclusion of Part One of “Imperium’s Shadow.” There will be much I need to revise and extend, but this is not too bad for a book I never intended to write. Wednesday and this weekend shall see me back in the basement, recording, but now I also must begin to turn my thoughts to Prince Robert – a “normie” – and what he does in Kentuckiana.

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Burned Out

Finally, after three weeks of a nagging cough – which still crops up – I am able to get back into my Fortress of Quietude in the basement to record more of “Foes and Rivals.” In a perfect world I’d like to have the voicing and editing complete before our “last” family trip the first week of June. That might be a little aggressive but we shall see.

In the mean time, I’m now up to 18k words in a book I had no intention to write. Below, I skip over the discussion between Edward and Ryland about the Empress’s proposal, cutting to the more personal bit where his aunt takes the young prince back to her place in Galveston for dinner. I had no idea that Faustina could be such a shit and do something like that to her own son.

Oh, yes: the working title for this is “Imperium’s Shadow.” If that shadow comes to include others of Fussy’s children, this could be a very long series, indeed.

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Back to the good part…!

Okay, so my first audiobook is out. Yea! And I’m recording the second book starting tomorrow. Yea! Until then, it is not as if I can stop writing…

After an odd dream which will be in the book, the young prince is off to meet his aunt. And, at long last, I have a working title for this new book. I wonder what the final shall be?

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