Drencum

“… which is what we was drinking, as we sat about the Korova Milk Bar, trying to make up our raszudoks as to what to do this evening…” ~ A Clockwork Orange.

I’ve been taking caffeine tabs with my boxed wine.  And my beta-blockers.  I’m going to die soon, aren’t I?

Prep-work done with one line into the badlands.  This story is about to go places I can only imagine!  Unlimited Witch Works!

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Life imitates my art, part whatever

Gender studies programs to be banned in Hungary” 

 

From chapter 13, physical page 140, of The Fourth Law:

Lily sat on a couch.  On the metallic disk.  Their place.

“I feel awful,” she said to no one in particular.

“Understandable,” Thaad said as he sat onto that uncomfortable backless chair of his.  “Dying can be like that, I hear.”

Lily was shocked.  “What do mean dying? I…”

Thaad inclined his head just a little.  “What do you recall just prior to your arrival in our home?”

She thought about that for a moment.  Things were usually a little mixed up whenever she ‘dropped in.’  But… it was… nighttime?  Dinner was over… and…

“Some woman shot me!” Lily yelled as she jumped up.  “I’ve got to…!  Got to…”

“Please sit back down.  Here,” he indicated the two coffee mugs on the low table, “try my coffee.  I changed the blend.”

Her panic receded as quickly as it had overtaken her.  She sat.

“But… Ai… and that woman…!”

Thaad took his mug and took a sip.  “Mmm.  Needs work.  We have many strengths and many weaknesses that you humans do not.  In dealing with you people, perhaps our greatest strength is how quickly we think.  We are not biologics, and as such, think just below light speed.  Your chemical-based brains average around the speed of sound.”

Another sip.  Lily wanted him to get to his point, so she said nothing.

“Thus, in a crisis such as this, in the time it took for your heart to beat once, Ai is now a fully-trained medic and nurse.  As you sit here – try the coffee, do – she is trying to save your life.”

She tried the coffee.  “Okay, but too weak for me.  Why am I here?”

“Weak, is it?  Hmmm.”

She didn’t know if he was too wrapped up in his coffee to have heard her question.

“My apologies; it took a moment to find out your answer, and I shan’t bother Ai again.  It seems she’s rather busy.  You were slipping into shock.  It was better, for the moment, for you to be here.  If you’re needed back at your home, you’ll go.”

“Okay.  And what about that woman?”

Those careful eyes took on a peculiar cast.  Lily could not suppress a shiver.

“Ai physically incapacitated her.  I look forward to her making me older about that and the First Law.  For now, we brought that woman here.  Fausta is seeing to it.”

Brought her here.  Lily’s working mental model was that somehow her consciousness, mind, whatever, could be moved to wherever they claimed their ‘home’ to be.  It only made sense that if they could do it to her, they could do it to anyone.

Fausta.  Who had, how had Thaad put it?  An ‘enthusiastic’ interest in her, and a predilection for violence.  Was that First Law just more of a suggestion?

“Uhhh… how’s that turning out?  Do you know why she shot me?”

He looked sharply at her.  “I know the implication in your question, and, no, we are not torturing her.  This woman was some kind of teacher and minor functionary at a college.  When your father’s organization closed all non-technical divisions at all state-funded schools, she lost her job.  Since that event, it seems she’s been working as a maid or waitress. Poorly.”  Another slight incline of his head.  “It seems that she’s good at nothing.”

“But,” Lily asked, confused, “why in the world did she shoot me?”

“Quite simple:  she blamed your father for her loss of status.  She could not lash out at him, so it was you, by proxy.”  He shifted in his chair slightly.  “I’ve encountered much of that with you people.”

Lily considered for a moment.  “Maybe she’s just crazy?”

He set his mug down.  “No.  By all objective measures, she is not insane.  However, Fausta assures me that this woman is evil.”  His eyes again took that peculiar cast.  “We’ve never had that here before.”

He blinked, and it was gone.  “Would you care for a snack while we wait?”

“S-sure.  That’d be fine, I guess.”

A Nasty Outbreak… of Plot!

I’ve left plenty of lampshades hanging, time to turn on the lights.  Should be no surprises for anyone following along; I don’t like surprising readers… I’d much rather have them get to the end of chapter (or entire book), put it down, and mutter, “never thought of it that way!”

Also:  when Teresa stood and said, “mess me up!” I broke out laughing.  I’ve no idea where that came from!  Hilarious!

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Doing Your Best

Some caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon helped me to lay down the rest of their dinner.  I’ve over 1k words beyond that, but it’s another day and back to political stuff with Teresa.  I hope to wrap it up tomorrow and then wait and see what comes next. I think there will be one more installment with Mac, followed by the POP back to ‘present’ of Nichole with the Nation on the move…

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001

At 19,074 words, the raw manuscript of Part 1/3 of Nichole5’s second book is complete.  While trying to keep it light-hearted and romantic, I had no choice but to lay some groundwork for what’s coming:  Nichole & John Brunelli personally reconning what’s going on across the Columbia River, to the far northeast of the City.  Teresa both a passive informant as well as secretly excited at the possibility of succeeding her father in power*.  And finally the simple girl, Mackenzie:  who just wants to make beautiful art, about to become a double-agent.

Nearly 20k words, and not one battle!  I must be thinking back to my roots as an author!  Wonder what that bodes for Part 2/3?  Will it open in the middle of combat, or will things continue to progress slow by slow?  The world wonders.  And for Nike and Zom’s?  I’m not remotely close to looking past that curtain.

*I recalled the scene from Robert Graves “I, Claudius,” where, some days after being picked to be Emperor by the Praetorian Guard, Claudius meets with a select few of the Senate leadership:

A senator:  “You are not fit for this job!”

Claudius:  “I agree.  I am old; some say I am without my wits.  But I am alive while dozens of my family went to the grave with theirs fully intact!  You say I have no experience… do you have more?  I’ve been in the Imperial Household since my birth, watching how it works.  Do you know more?”

Expect Teresa (via Nichole) to have a similar speech in Part 3/3… if she’s still alive.  Also, I hope in this installment I’ve captured Nichole’s recognition of the moral grey zone she’s stepped out into, by asking what she does of her friend.  I realized, just now, that she’s created a box of safety around her boyfriend.  Good Lord, but that’s going to backfire.

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Life Imitates my Art, again

In chapter 10 of my forthcoming book, Friend & Ally, there’s an exchange between Nichole and her human friend, Mackenzie, who’s a wonderful artist:

“Oh.” Another bite. “So you’re an… android?”

“Yes! Completely self-aware and a fully stand-alone machine! But…” She looked about conspiratorially, leaning a little forward. She was very happy her friend leaned in, too! “…I’d rather stand with my friends than alone!”

Mackenzie leaned out, laughing out loud for once. A bit of crepe fell out of her mouth.

When she started on her second crepe, Nichole had them amble east and north, toward the river. Mackenzie could guess why. Indeed: coming to Naito Parkway, she spied Kongo’s mast in the distance. But, for now, she was too taken with the new world being opened up before her.

“Not at all!” Nichole had replied to her. “Several of my siblings are quite taken with art! My eldest sister, Hajime, does oil painting! If I can get some time on the PSU satellite links, I’ll try to print some copies for you!”

“That would be nice.” To look at art made by someone who wasn’t human… Mackenzie shuddered slightly in anticipation.

“You okay?” Nichole asked. They walked close to one another under her umbrella; typical for Portland, mostly cloudy had become light rain.

“Yeah.”

While horribly mischaracterized by the media (c’mon, Popular Mechanics!) as AIs, these are merely expert systems, using heuristics to create paintings the programmers want to see.  Real art by real AIs?  I seriously doubt we’d understand it.

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Friend for dinner

Work sucked less; dog still not well.  After work had to walk to my car in the rain.  I’m writing books set in Portland, so I regarded it as theater training.  Still maneuvering my way to the conclusion of Part 1 while at the same time laying the groundwork for Part 2

I want to show that Gil and Nichole love one another, but at the same time I want to show that they both know there’s something very odd about their relationship.  In other words, it’s a pretty typical guy-gal thing.

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