Hey all! Glad to be back at home and working on my writing again. It seems that every time I go away, be it to the back woods to hike, or just for a day trip where I have no access to my devices, I find myself coming up with my best ideas. Foremost amongst these were the series of shorts I’ve been releasing of late.
And as planned, I merged these stories into my Flash Forward collection, and the result seems to be that that collection of short stories has reached its mandated length of 40,000 words – aka. the word count of a full-length novel. This means that Flash Forward is now officially complete, barring a serious final read and edit.
And I’ve managed to come up with a new cover for it too, as you can see posted below. Only the image has changed, plus of course the font color to match. It comes from NASA’s own image database, and is an artists rendition of a black hole. As a quantum singularity, it is a perfect visual representation for the book’s central theme – the technological singularity!
Anyhoo, here is the basic breakdown of the book and its stories. It comes in three parts, each one dealing with a general period that leads to, during, and after the technological revolution that will forever alter humanity’s destiny.
Part I: Transitions
AZ-286: This story is actually the seed from which Whiskey Delta grew. It takes place in the near future in New Mexico, where the National Guard is now responsible for patrolling a militarized, fortified border. As I once learned when studying the likely scenarios brought on by climate change, a future where nations have to seal their borders from refugees with barbed wire, minefields, gun towers and military forces is likely to become the norm. Its very easy to close and fortify a border, the only question is, “how many people are you willing to kill?”
Repute: In the not too distant future, a person’s professional life may be sized up based on their online persona – a mere conglomeration of their social media presence, personal photos, activities, and scandals. Out of all of this, a person’s Reputation Index Placement is calculated and used to determine whether or not they are employable, and in which capacities.
Interlopers: Tourism takes on new dimensions in a future where augmented reality allows for a form of virtual tourism that lets you see and interact with the “cultural landscape”. Basically, you strap on a set of AR glasses, and see people, structures and environments that were once there, hundreds or even thousands of years ago. In the end, the technology makes it clear that all life is transient, and we are all mere temporary occupants of any land we currently inhabit.
Highest: In the future, the world is dependent upon space-based-solar-power: massive arrays that float in orbit, absorb the power of the sun, and beam it down to Earth. Those who work the arrays are given a chance to see some pretty spectacular sights, provided they don’t mind the hazardous duty!
LPVTTMIL: Synthetic food is the norm, created largely in foundries where amino acids and essential nutrients are cobbled together to form the proteins of different kinds of meat. However, in addition to providing people with a safe and sustainable form of nourishment, synthetic meat-making also provided the black market with a means of creating the flesh of endangered and extinct animals. And like all black market trade, it is a lucrative business, and very dangerous to those who partake.
Telex: Exploration of space and exoplanets has taken on new dimensions thanks to telepresence and robotics. However, after years of sending sentient machines out to do the job or surveying and exploring, the new race of explorers are beginning to think they are entitled to the spoils of their exploration.
Organic: In the not-too-distant future, those who can afford to augment their bodies and minds do so, to the point where ongoing competition has led to the creation of a new underclass known as “organics”. These people are those who are unenhanced and therefor unable to compete in today’s job market, unless they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice!
Neurology: In the future, war is waged by fleets of Unmanned Combat Air Systems, killing machines which by law must be manned by a human being. But in a world where the line between man and machine is becoming increasingly blurry, this law is open to interpretation and distortion.
Pax: In a world where total war is the norm and all segments of society are dedicated to the war effort, pacifism has become a capital crime. However, a new neurological virus is spreading like wildfire that threatens to turn all people into peace-loving traitors. No one is safe, and everyone is suspect…
Ware: The advent of nanomachinery has revolutionized the field of medicine, and all over the world, companies are paying top dollar to get their hands on the latest ware. Enter into this an industrial thief who has been paid to grab a specialized strain, but has decided to send it to someone infinitely more deserving.
Masquerade: Personal holographics have turned the world into a playground, where anyone can look, act, and be whoever they want. And in this world of moral flexibility, democratic anarchy and open legal arrangements, people enjoy reenacting periods from the past – times when things were simpler, life was harder, and laws were more stringent.
Yellowknife: As settlement of Mars continues, excavators begin to search for traces of the life that once existed there. In time, a team stumbles upon a find that will totally change the way humanity views the Red Planet. The only problem is, the site is earmarked for “development”. As more people arrive every day, Mars’ ancient history may be bulldozed in the name of progress and expansion.
Xeno: Along the commercial space lanes of the near universe, a strange object has been detected that appears to be of extra-terrestrial origin. Once procured, researchers determine that it is in fact a sort of messaging device. And the message is simple: “Surrender or die!”
Gravitation: After generations of sailing through deep-space, the colony ship Mayflower has arrived at its destination in a distant star system. Unfortunately, deep-space travel and colonization missions appear to exact an interesting and unforseen psychological toll on some. As the latest commander of the vessel appears to have shown, the heady responsibility of planting the seed of humanity in a distant star system can have strange effects on a person’s mind, one of religious dimensions!
Jericho: They are called Seedlings, a specialized form of terraforming nanorobot that were sent out to a distant planet to convert it for the settlers who would follow. However, something went wrong with their programming. Upon arriving at the new colony, named Jericho, the settlers find a monument built onto them that represents them all as divine beings. Clearly, the Seedlings have come to see their makers as Gods and their arrival on the planet as something akin to a holy event…
Singular: Eons in the future, all consciousness in our galaxy has merged with stellar matter to form a series of super-beings known as Cognates. The time has come to experience the final existential singularity, where all Cognates will come together to create a single, thinking, galactic life form. In preparation for this momentous event, the Cognates take the time to ponder all the other singularities and breakthroughs that have led them to this point. And naturally, their thoughts stray to one complex, challenging, and enigmatic segment of the sentient universe known as humanity…
That’s the anthology in a nutshell. Most of the stories appeared as part of the April 2013 A to Z Challenge, but I was sure to add several more as that month really had a profound effect on my imagination. I’ve come to love short stories, they give you a chance to express ideas in a way that is far more cost-effective than full-length novels. In fact, Ray Bradbury said as much, when giving advice to young authors, telling them to write lots of short stories and worry about the big stuff later. Smart man…
Look for it soon. Like all my other books, I will be available on Amazon-Kindle, and for a reasonable price!