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Read. Whispersync. The wonders of technology. Then get cyberpunked.

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In the future, we will offer variant covers that will not be available on any retailer.

Regarding Kindle Unlimited titles: We are experimenting with KU distribution. That, called Kindle Select, has an exclusivity clause that prevents us from even selling on our own site. Only Amazon stores are allowed. We generally don’t like that but as soon as the titles shift out of select we will update the products here.

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Teaser Chapter: Slow Up

Teaser Chapter: Moirai – Brains operating @ 12 times normal human speed

Two weeks ago:

It was a secure white room, in a nondescript basement owned by Moiragetis Holdings. The three women were perched upon their marble pedestals, mumbling and threading the flow of information.
The women, dressed in white, seemed aged beyond their years. Their thin hair barely flowed, their frail hands moving, twitching, as if working the air with purpose.

The Fates by Toradh

Bundles of flashing and glowing optic fibres were feeding into their backs, directly into their spine. They connected them to the server at the room below, an unlisted supercomputer with a singular purpose.

Their eyes were glazed white, for they could not see in the conventional sense. Their optic nerves had been claimed by the stream of data. In front of their eyes, it was as if the internet was the Earth’s seas and rivers, and you had struck a blow in the rockface and made a marvellous shower erupt, the rays of the sun making rainbows in the mist. It was like that, each second of each day, for the three Moirai.

Klotho, to weave the thread of data.
Lachesis, to measure the thread and assign it to its proper owner,
And Atropos, to cut the thread at its proper place.

For data was fate and fate was data. For if one person or three could see the twists and turns of fate, they could see the immediate future and seeing the future meant seizing it. Snatching it out of the infinite possibilities and probabilities in the quantum foam of the universe and forcing it to gel into existence, an Observer making electrons decide on molecular trajectories by the mere push of his gaze.

There was one misunderstanding, though.

Fate was not tailored to a person, as it was commonly believed. No. Fate was a given constant, only the person it was assigned to was the thing to be decided.

Take the Twelve Labors of Hercules, for example. One might think that Fate came with the life of the person itself, the demigod, despised by Hera and forced to endure endless tragedies. In truth, the Fate of Hercules was a constant, and it happened to befall upon the poor man. Like a story looking for its protagonist.

“Sister?” Klotho wheezed.
“Yes, my dear?” Lachesis replied in the same rasping whisper.
“Take note of this particular thread of Fate,” Klotho said and passed the data on to her left.
“Oh, my, what a nasty one this is!” Lachesis rasped and measured the thread of data.
Klotho turned her cataract eyes to her sister, watching with interest as she worked the thread. “To whom shall we assign this, Sister?”
“Give it to me,” snapped Atropos, the nastiest and oldest sister, as she snatched the thread from them. “Yes,” she said with delight as she cut the thread. “Yes, yes, yes.” She picked up another thread of data from the folds of her white dress, it seemed as if she was saving it for a special occasion. She spun and weaved the smaller thread to the original one, matching twists and making ends disappear. It was an expert’s work.

The younger sisters turned to her side, dreading to interfere. A woman’s face showed up in the shower of Augmented Reality they saw, along with every bit of data about her. Every keystroke she ever pushed, every step she ever took, every frame of video she ever watched and was in. Her life, digitised. They gasped. “Can she endure it?” the two sisters said in unison.

Atropos, finally done with her work, smiled.

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REBLOG: We created our gods, and we can control them

This article first appeared in Standard Examiner. Reblogged here because it’s so brilliant.

By E. KENT WINWARD, special to the Standard-Examiner

“Once upon a time”… we told stories, stories that explained our world, how it works, and taught us how to behave and not behave. The ancient Greeks told stories about their gods. The almighty Zeus hurled thunderbolts, while Hera chased Zeus around, trying to catch him in the act of wooing a nymph or two. Athena protected warriors in battle, while Ares incited them.

Aphrodite, goddess of love, wreaked havoc with human lives, just as love continues to do today. Mercury was the gods’ “runner,” while Apollo drove his chariot across the sky until dusk. Schools wisely teach Greek mythology to adolescents, because the Greek gods usually end up acting like a Mount Olympus high school.

Zeus, Athena and other ancient Greek gods and deities on a building at the National University of Athens, Greece. Image by: Dimitrios.

Teaching Greek mythology is also a fantastic way to get smartphone-wielding teenagers to question how human beings could be so gullible: “Did those old Greeks really believe some cranky guy in the clouds was hurling thunderbolts, or a chariot drove the sun through its rotation?” But even as we ridicule the old beliefs, we love listening to the stories because they entertain us and carry an essence of truth within the obvious fictions. Lightning strikes are capricious. The sun’s rotation seems like a benevolent force: life-giving, light-giving, and reliable. We think about how silly those toga-wearing ancients’ beliefs were, and yet we continue to build our human societies around fictional narratives, even today.

My job as an attorney is not that far removed from being the Oracle of Delphi. I interpret the fictional story of “the law” and enlighten those who come with a query. The law is a story we have collectively created as a society. We believe in the story enough that we enforce the story with our collective force, but the fact remains that it’s a story we’ve made up and written down. The law is a story that serves a purpose — it makes sure we’re all on the same page.

The story of the law is fictional, but as with all fiction, many things are true. We have endowed our fictional legal story with godlike powers, and the law has responded in kind by giving us our very own pantheon of new and powerful gods. Instead of requesting answers from Apollo at Delphi, we consult the Oracle via our search bar, and the great god Google answers us. In the real world of concrete, tangible things, how is Google different from Apollo? “Is this mole cancerous? The Oracle told me it could be.”

We believe in our new gods so much, we allow them to sue and be sued in courts of law. The smartphone gods, Apple and Samsung, duke it out for supremacy, intellectual property, and credit from the masses, and humanity is divided into groups of believers. Are you an ardent follower of the one true Apple, or are you an Android heretic?

Have you heard the new commandment from the great god, Amazon? “True believers of Amazon shall buy Prime. Appeal at your desktop altar, or petition your prayer phone. Pay your indulgence, and with free two-day shipping, ye shall receive.” (Just a quick side note: in naming the company, Bezos even opted for a reference to a collection of powerful female Greek demigods, including the modernized comic book goddess, Wonder Woman.)

And like the Greeks, we have countless demigods running around, incorporated into our modern language and commerce, and we often don’t bother to rename them. The god Nike brings promises of victory; Ajax wasn’t a god, but a mighty warrior. The Trojans had a mighty wall that kept out the swarms, at least until the wall was covertly circumvented. And open Pandora’s box and along with musical wonders, you will almost certainly find unwanted ads.

Trademarks, intellectual property and corporations are all legal fictions. For that matter, the Constitution itself is the ultimate fiction: an agreed-upon set of rules that finds its strength in our collective commitment to believe in its underlying truths. Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and many more, are our new pantheon, and they remain just as fictional as any Greek god. Humanity created these powerful forces from nothing more than words in a law book, stories, and a collective belief in the stories. If we look at the almost miraculous gifts from our corporate gods, we believe they were created with intelligent design — our intelligent design.

But we need to remember that, just like the ancient Greeks, we created these gods to serve specific functions, and we have the ability to tell them how to behave through our collective story (our laws), including what powers we endow them with, as well as their limitations and weaknesses.

If we don’t like how our stories are ending, especially because of the behavior of our gods, we must rewrite the story so that our “once upon a time” ends with us living “happily ever after.”

E. Kent Winward is an Ogden attorney. Twitter: @KentWinward.

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Cyberpunk Week On Tor

Tor Publishing is running a cyberpunk week on their site. The very first post, It’s Not Fiction, It’s Our Lives, really struck a chord with me.

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Artist’s rendering of the famous Ghost In The Shell opening. (Marek Okon)

A few decades ago the “cyberpunk” genre was purely fiction. Now, it is a reality that humanity struggles to navigate on a daily basis. Bodyhacking, information networks, megacorps… these concepts, borne from fiction, now shape our lives in very serious ways. And just as reality grows from forward-looking stories, so too does new fiction grow in response to the present day. What is a cyberpunk, or even “post-cyberpunk,” story when that is the world you live in?

That is prevalent in all our works, the idea that the future is now. Many of the things we do daily were considered science-fiction not so long ago. Access to information, anytime, anywhere? Real-time translation with augmented reality? Body-tracking, disposable drones, restaurant recommendations via an accurate algorithm? They’re all here, it’s not even shocking anymore.

In our exploration, three important aspects of cyberpunk become apparent:

  • Administration: Much of cyberpunk fiction drew inspiration from corporate structures that were only just beginning to solidify in the late 20th century, and what those stories extrapolated out towards isn’t too different from what we experience now in the early 21st century. Cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk fiction is uniquely suited to exploring the intricacies of the systems that govern us, whether those systems are controlled by corporations, governments, or the people themselves. Information is the currency of cyberpunk, and increasingly the currency of the present day. How can we use it to make something better? How should we use it?
  • Identity: Information technology is on the cusp of merging the biological and the mechanical into one seamless being, but what then does that being become? What is a person who can exist outside their body? Is there a purpose to gender and race classification? Especially when we are capable of creating programming that can think for itself, and does not require a gender or race? We live in an age where a person can fine-tune their appearance to a degree never before experienced, and cyberpunk fiction is at the forefront of imagining how a humanity consisting entirely of self-fashioned people works.
  • Culture and Commerce: We tell stories, regardless of form or circumstance, so what stories are told by those living in our world; a world imagined by cyberpunk fiction? What appeals to us?

Tor’s first point is really spot on (hell, fleek even). Google made it’s billion dollar empire on information alone. If you were to write that twenty years ago, you’d be called excessive. Things don’t work like that. Governments can’t be asking their citizens to vote on every little thing via their mobiles and laptops. Or maybe, in Estonia’s case, they can.

The second point is well explored in science fiction, but I don’t like the political American debate on gender classification. Excuse me, but yes there is a biological reason for gender classification, it’s silly to presume otherwise. On race I agree, we’re all one species. Regarding the appearance, yes, I believe from the data points of body modification up till now, that it will become extreme. I truly believe that there will be people addicted to modifying their bodies, not cosmetically, like they do now, but with technology, horns, extra limbs and more unimaginable things.

Commerce seems to be the king. If something sells, the people behind it are willing to bend laws to their will, ignore morals, slave children to factories, fire family-men and replace them with robots, trademark common everyday words. There is literally no limit. Culture is slowly becoming one sloshy gray goo, with Asians celebrating Christmas (just because they like the holiday), American culture invading every other one with Hollywood and (apparently) superhero movies now. India is a strong counterpoint in this, spreading it’s culture all over the world but in a different light, it’s more of the same.

Anyway, this post isn’t meant to be a manifesto. These are just observations on the current state of things, plus some wishful thinking. Cause it’s not all bad. I recently had a conversation with some people of the earlier generation, and they claim that despite the Greek crisis here, we are still living relatively nice compared to the past. People didn’t used to have employee rights, air-conditioning or even shoes to wear.

There are medicines now for diseases that used to kill thousands. My father keeps a box of the pills that could have saved my grandfather on his desk. Just a stupid, tiny silly pill that if it had existed 50 years ago, my grandfather wouldn’t have to endure a lifetime of sickness and surgeries.

People can re-educate themselves in an open university if they like or through online courses. We have access to most of the books ever written with Project Gutenberg, and for the daily stuff, we have every shop we need just a short walk away. Mostly. Our cars are reliable, our homes are comfortable and travel is becoming faster and faster.

Corporations are making things nicer, easier and cheaper for us. But just because it helps with their sales.

You can follow Tor’s articles on Cyberpunk Week here.

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What Is Cyberpunk Anyway?

I’ve happily stumbled upon this article on what Cyberpunk is and what will be. Which I will happily cannibalize for a few quotes on this post.

Cyberpunk does allow you to say a story of, perhaps Celebrity Singers and Biker Amazons 🙂 (credit Petri Rahkola)

It gets a bit academic, and I think the subject doesn’t need that much analysis but I like some of the points. I’ve even had a realization:

A kitsch self-parody

For all its outward cynicism, cyberpunk is often wilfully naive; conspiracies are unravelled, the lone maverick is redeemed, the lone aberration at the head of the system is taken out and all is well again. For all its gritty imagery, this dissonantly contradicts reality. Indeed it is questionable whether cyberpunk is an entirely dystopian genre. For the oligarch-villains occupying the luxury penthouses and boardrooms in which boss battles occur, this is utopia. The ubiquity of scaffolding in the genre’s platform games suggests there is even a building boom. It is a great time to be an engineer. Even for the average citizen, perhaps things aren’t that bad; there are plenty of exotic street-food outlets and sports to enjoy (you can follow the blood and chrome progress of Brutal Deluxe in the Bitmap Brothers’ 2007 Speedball series). Escape to off-world colonies, as we are told repeatedly by advertising neo-blimps, is an option for the rich and genetically sound. Some of the tyrannies are fairly relative. In X-Kaliber 2097 (1994), the reign of the warlord Raptor means “there are no more jobs to go to,” echoing the current fear that automation might render us all unemployable. “Well,” we might say, “thank god for that.” Even when the apocalypse beckons or has already happened (the release of the planet-decimating biochemical Lucifer-Alpha in 1988’s Snatcher, for example), it is survivable.

I like that. Yes, deep down cyberpunk is wish fulfillment, does have a happy ending, the corporations do lose. Vices are plentiful, humanity has far-out options for life extension and survival, heroes are cool and larger-than-life.

My kind of cyberpunk is rather light. All the tropes are there, but they are a backdrop to character and plot. Mega corporations crush people and effectively become worshiped, but we see the casual interactions and the family issues. Not the sweeping socio-economic ones, which frankly, would make a boring read.

 

Following the maxim of its baptist William Gibson that “the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed,” cyberpunk has always been a scrapyard, with pieces of what is to come scattered through the past and present. Indeed, its saving grace is that it recognizes, as other futurology often fails to, that the future will be a collage and it will be considerably older than the present.

That scrapyard is what I try to put in my own stories. A bit of Greek mythology, a bit of plausible technology, a narrative that draws you in, and some action to keep it exciting. Because, make no mistake, violence is at the cybernetic heart of cyberpunk.

 

The fear and power of plugging in and losing our humanity in the process, continually evident in cyberpunk, is again not new; we find precedents in Descartes’ Demon and Plato’s Cave. There is also a certain guilty pleasure in immersing yourself in a videogame world that warns you of the dangers of immersing yourself in videogame worlds. The early game Interphase (1989), by The Assembly Line, deftly equates virtual reality with dream-space, a crossover we will no doubt increasingly see with advances in VR, AI and augmented reality. At that time such developments seemed the stuff of dreams, but they are incrementally becoming more real. In Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs (2014), the hacking abilities of the lead character Aiden Pearce suggest that the human brain, the city and cyberspace are now interwoven networks. To accumulate great power in the latter two is to potentially wield power over the first.

My main issue with VR is that one. I too have been brought up with Neuromancer, and Matrix more recently (yes I said recently, shuddup), but I don’t think VR is what we thought it would become in those days. I firmly believe, that instead of diving inside the computer world, we will superimpose the digital word over the physical one. A Shared Augmented Reality, giving us information and allowing us to interact with the digital equivalent of the physical objects. In my works, I call it the veil, a shared overlay of public data. For example, when people look at you with SAR glasses or maybe someday contact lenses, they’ll see your public facebook and twitter profile, all available for interaction.

Anyway, the God Complex takes place in a cyberpunk world, with a few metaphysical elements and a lot of Greek lore. The latest work and the first published novel is “The Girl Who Twisted Fate’s Arm,” and you can find it on Amazon:

the-girl-who-twisted-fate's-arm-rc2

When the daughter of Greece’s premier singer fails to sing as expected, she finds out about a biker group of women. But will she manage to find the elusive Orosa, the bikers’ motovlogger, when all she has to go on are random street-sightings of criminal behaviour, when her family is opposed to her following this path and when her dad’s employer wants to keep her as she was for marketing purposes?

Do you want to know what’s next for the voiceless Aura? Do you wanna meet the Amazons? Then read this coming of age story in a world where fate is quite literal.

Read through the page on our site for descriptions and other places where it’s available.

 

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Come and Meet the Muse

The Muse is here

Crying Over Spilt Light is now available on Amazon! Go to the book page for purchase links.

Crying Over Spilt Light Novella eBook
What If You Could Hire Your Own Personal Muse?

This one has been a long time coming. Inspired a few years ago by a sci-fi short story, this idea was rolling around my head for quite a while.

The basic premise is that of an android muse, helping a scientist figure out the thing that he was working on.

Many ideas came and went about the scientist’s actual project, but something clicked in place when I read about Maxwell’s light knots. I already wanted to have something to do with lasers (lasers are cool) and I needed a theory that would be Nobel prize worthy, possibly with unlimited potential. This idea, that light could be formed into lattices to be contained on a special-made computer chip, turning light into a quantum computer was too amazing to give up.

And alas, there was a really cool problem to go along with it!

Crystallized light had two inherent problems, one being leaking and two, due to quantum effects, being destroyed by the very act of observation. I don’t know of course if the real problem is at all solvable, but for my novella, it is. Yanni, the physicist is working on a solution to keep the light contained on its lattice.

Years pass with no end in sight, until he is dealt an ultimatum by the review board of his funding (Deimokritos is the National Centre of Scientific Research) and he needs to figure out the solution to his proof fast. Yanni is only 30 years old, but he has convinced himself that unless he manages to make a breakthrough before his birthday, he will never do so. 30 years old might seem too young but in academic age it borders on going senile. The mind simply cannot work at the same capacity it did, especially regarding theoretical physics and advanced mathematics. It is well known that academic brilliance takes a downturn after 25. Yanni, living in this institution used to be one of the young brilliant minds to mock the elders and is frightened by seeing himself turn into one.

His idea is that it is possible to use Maxwell’s light knots to solve the leaking light problem from light crystals, enabling quantum computing with previously unimaginable computing speeds. It is all years ahead of course, but it is easy to imagine a tech company willing to kill for such a breakthrough.

Render of a possible light knot based on Maxwell’s equations.

Where does the Muse fit into all of this?

Well, the muse is an android specially created to aid the inspiration of her charge. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just explain this with broad strokes: She is an android, a fantasy come true, the Muse and the wife and the companion who knows what to say, when to say it, who lets you work uninterrupted, who tends to your needs and eliminates all distractions.

Her form was dictated by common sci-fi imagery of gynoids, but her pose (and this is something I am quite happy discovering) comes from the following classic painting:

Luigi Cherubini and the Muse of Lyric Poetry
Luigi Cherubini and the Muse of Lyric Poetry

It is simply amazing to realize that every concept, every combination, every single slice of life you can possibly think of has already been visualized in classic art.

It is hard to discuss about anything more without spoiling the book, so I’ll just leave it at that and hope it piques your interest. It is available on Amazon.

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Watch the book trailer of “How to 3D print a god”

The gods are back in town. Skyscrapers pop out of nowhere all around Athens. Corporations rename themselves as Greek gods. It all started with the Greek crisis of 2009 and it will forever change the world as we know it. Some say that CEO’s have gone mad. Others, that they know damn well what they are doing. That there is something solid amongst the myth. In the day of inter-connectivity and social media admiration, can the ancient myths come back to life?

The gods are back in town and they carry a god complex.
The gods are back in town and they carry a god complex.

When the score of a lifetime falls in their lap, Deimos and his team accepts to sneak in a factory and 3D print the client’s secret design. But will they succeed when a pack of well trained Amazons tries to stop them, when things don’t quite go as planned and when the secret design turns out to be something very different?

See the product page on our shop:

Click Here to Buy the Book How to 3D Print a God

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How to 3D print a god is available on Amazon Kindle now.

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Get the first peek into the god complex universe!

We have put up our first book in the god complex series for free on Amazon.

What happens when a corporation gets a god complex?
What happens when a corporation gets a god complex?

You can get the Kindle book for free by clicking this link below: (PROMOTION ENDED)

How to 3D print a god (God Complex Short Stories Book 1)

After you read it please leave a review on the Amazon book page!

The free giveaway will last until the 29th of September.

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